LAHORE - Every third influential visiting the offices of the top police officers, these days, wants his man to be inducted in the police department as Constable as the much-awaited recruitments are underway in 14 districts of Punjab.
The authorities did not mention, in the advertisement, the exact number of vacancies of Constables and Lady Constables to be filled in 14 out of 35 districts of the province by the end of this month. Officials say the chief minister had given approval for recruitment of 4000 policemen in the Punjab police recently. The influential included individual and pressure groups from all sections of the society especially ministers, local politicians, leading lawyers, members of the judiciary, journalists, and even the close relatives of the top police officers.
Insiders say that the police hierarchy is under immense pressure to ‘accommodate’ the candidates of the influential politicians, belonging to the ruling PML-N. There are also rumours in the police circles that the MNAs and MPAs of the PML-N are given job quota to help strengthen the political party ahead of local body polls.
A police officer during informal chat revealed that the top cops serving on key posts could not ignore all the powerful politicians “since they want to retain their positions.”
Ironically, the “market-rate” for the job of a Constable, on permanent basis, in the Punjab police is currently ranging from Rs 150,000 to Rs 200,000. Tens of thousands of graduate youth are struggling hard to get a government job in the cash-strapped economy.
Many police officials say they believe the influential directly or indirectly collecting bribe from the helpless and unemployed youth to help them inducted in the police department by hook and crook.
The political leadership must understand that if these vacancies would be sold to the politicians and influential persons then there is a strong possibility that the black sheep would penetrate into the country’s largest law enforcing agency. Corruption would swell further in the already corruption-riddled police department.
In their campaign manifesto, the political leadership had pledged police reforms to bring positive changes in the Thana Culture. The much-needed reforms in the police would remain a distance dream unless policy of 100 percent merit is implemented across the board particularly in the administrative affairs of the police.
Out of tens of thousands of youth are vying for the job of Constable, hundreds of graduate and post-graduate are also among the aspirants. The authorities should consider appointing deserving candidates rather than preferring to the matriculates. “If one gets a job in the police by bribing someone how can we expect anything good from that guy. Obviously, he would collect bribe from the underworld to get back the money, which he had paid to someone for the job,” according to a former police officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Under such circumstances, not only corruption will flourish but the crime rate would also swell in the crime-prone society, he observed.
Last week, the Punjab police began the process of recruitment which was deferred thrice in 2011 and 2012 due to one or another reason.
Early this year, the recruitments of constables in the police department had also been deferred twice since the leading political parties – the PML-N in Punjab and the PPP in Center – were at loggerheads over the recruitment policy before the May polls. Both the parties wanted to entertain their ‘diehard’ supporters and voters.
Every year, the Punjab police department recruits thousands of new constables to overcome the staff shortage amid sprawling population and high crimes rate.
The Constables’ recruitment had been lying in abeyance in the province for the last three years. The process to recruit 6000 policemen had been initiated many times in the previous years but the authorities had to suspend it later. By selling application forms to the unemployed youth, the police department collected millions of rupees, causing frustration among the candidates who had to apply for many times for the same post.
As the recruitment process has been initiated, tens of thousands of graduate youth are seen in district police headquarters struggling for a job amid massive unemployment. To prevent political pressure, officials say, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Punjab Khan Baig has constituted three-member Recruitment Boards in 14 districts of the province to ensure transparency and merit.
These Boards are comprised of an officer of DIG-rank as its Chairman, the DPO or CPO concerned as Secretary and one officer of SP or SSP rank as Member of the board. Officials say these special recruitment boards are supposed to ensure merit-based recruitments. Interestingly, these boards are comprised of senior officers serving in the same province and many believe they are approachable.
Will the top cops resist to all kinds of pressure to promote merit-based recruitments by inducting talented, deserving, and genuine candidates in the otherwise corruption-riddled department?, is a million-dollar question. Both the Punjab chief minister and the IGP should personally monitor the recruitment process in order to promote merit and transparency in the province. The influential persons should be discouraged so that neat and clean people could be recruited in the provincial police department.