Poor police performance

Tormentors cannot be saviours.

The Inspector General Punjab Police (IG) while addressing his officers after the botched Zaman Park operation said, “We will prevail over the enemy”. Unlike the Army, the police force remains in close contact with the public. While the army remains focused on the borders, detached from the people. While the soldiers are trained to fight the enemy, the Police is trained to protect the community in which they operate. Unfor­tunately, the Police that we inherited was designed to control and harass the locals to ensure subservience to the colonialists. It in­timidated the weak while protecting the powerful who were aligned to the colonial state.

Historically, popular public leaders have re­mained out of reach of the Police. Sheikh Mu­jib-ur-Rehman as the most popular leader of the Eastern Wing of Pakistan could not be arrested by the Bengali Police. Finally, a full-fledged military operation was carried out to capture him. He was then shifted to the Western part for his trial. He later emerged as the father of the Bengali nation (Bangla Bandhu). Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) was taken into custody by the martial law authorities. He was accused of murder of his political oppo­nent’s father. Justice K.M.A. Samdani of the Lahore High Court allowed him bail. He was then arrest­ed under martial law and tried by a new bench headed by the then Chief Justice who bore a per­sonal grudge against him.

With his overwhelming support and populari­ty, IK remains out of reach of the Police force that can only go after stationary targets. During the term of Ghulam Haider Wyne as CM of Punjab, armed encounters in Police custody were com­mon. After his term ended, he was gunned down during an election campaign in his home constit­uency of Mian Channu. His assassin came from a tribe whose important member was killed in one such staged encounter. In his defence, Wyne Sb al­ways insisted that he never gave such orders but as CM he had to face the brunt. Misconduct of his Police Force let him down. It seems no lessons were learnt by his party. The Colonial era refuses to die the coercive system remains intact 75 years after independence. People continue to be treat­ed as an enemy of the state that they created with their sweetness and blood.

In the decade of the nineties, a student leader by the name of Atif Chaudhry was gunned down by the Police near MAO College in the Lower Mall area. In an academy outside the college, a brawl took place. In the exchange of fire, Atif was injured while a po­liceman was killed. With a bullet in his leg, Atif man­aged to escape to the erstwhile tribal areas. Final­ly, under a truce with the local Police, he returned. In violation of the agreement, he was taken to the same location and killed in a staged encounter. His mother came to know about the assassination plan and appealed to the President to save his son’s life but the plan was carried out as planned and Atif lost his life. People in Anarkali still remember him where he sold used books in a small stall.

The attack on IK’s house in Zaman Park on March 18, 2023, is indicative of the very character of the law enforcement force that appears on the scene to pick up the crumbs after the feud is over. To ensure the safety of the citizens major reforms are needed in a force that was never meant to serve. Tormentors cannot be saviours. One visit to a Police Station is enough to understand the tormenting behaviour of the men posted there. There was a time when they lived on the premises to regulate their behaviour as is the practice in Army units but not anymore.

Dr Farid A Malik
The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation, email: fmaliks@hotmail.com

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation, email: fmaliks@hotmail.com

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