Policing Reforms

Cybercrime and police corruption have increasingly become pervasive issues in our country, and Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz’s proactive approach towards addressing these issues is commendable, given their significance in ensuring public safety and security.

Although these areas clearly need our attention, we must exercise some caution against the tendency of relying solely on standalone projects, as we have seen throughout previous experiences in Pakistan’s law enforcement sector. This old habit of reforming through new projects with egregiously high funding has proven to be a broken strategy in addressing extremely niche issues in the country that do not require such massive steps of reformation as much as they need improvements on our pre-existing structures.

The launch of initiatives such as our Dolphin police force unit last year and the digitally integrated Safe City project were very well-intentioned efforts to modernise our law enforcement and security through specialised units with heavy funding. However, we saw that the factor that brings these projects down is their sustainability. Economic and budget constraints have always been a persistent problem for Pakistan in the near future, and inadequate funding in these projects will inevitably lead to them crumbling in some shape or form.

Despite initial enthusiasm and support from federal authorities, the Dolphin Force now faces constant challenges in maintaining its operations due to budgetary limitations and its duties overlapping with our pre-existing police forces and patrol units. Similar concerns arose with the Safe City project, which aimed to bolster surveillance systems but encountered financial hurdles and over half the installed surveillance devices are now offline. These are clearly well-intentioned projects, but they are simply too disconnected and spontaneous to be effective long term. We already have structures and systems in place that are in desperate need of renovation and improvements. Why focus on a brand new unit when we already have a cybercrime unit in the FIA?

A more considered and thoughtful approach to police reform with adequate long-term planning and funding, rather than relying solely on isolated projects, will be much more effective in addressing these issues. The last thing we need is a duplication of efforts, as this will lead to more inefficient resource allocation and ultimately, a failure to address underlying systemic issues in what we already have.

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