Political stability prerequisite to police reforms, Ahsan Iqbal

ISLAMABAD: One of the biggest challenges, Pakistan is faced with for the last 70 years, is the lack of a stable political system and discontinuity in policies, said Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Interior.

He was speaking at a seminar titled: “Disparities in police systems in provinces and the federal capital”, organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and attended by a select number of police officials, lawyers, and legislators here on Thursday.

The Interior Minister said since independence, every single political government was either derailed or destabilized, which led to non-implementation of reforms, especially in the police department. He added that in this situation, even countries whole machinery cannot function. “The failure in the implementation of previous police reforms resulted in an unstable society, lack of key stakeholder’s involvement and lack of consensus on the reforms initiative.” For the implementation of reforms in any sector, including police, we have to ensure a peaceful and stable democratic system, which is the future of Pakistan. Otherwise, he warned, the same story of destabilization of political system will be repeated every time and the country will remain in the state of oblivion.

Gen ® Moinuddin Haider, Ex- Governor Sindh on the occasion said that in any society local government and policing are two important pillars and institutions for wellbeing and prosperity of public. However, in Pakistan our police is highly politicized and is being used for serving personnel interest, he said adding that police order 2002 is an excellent document and should be implemented in all four provinces, including in the GB, AJK, FATA and B areas of Baluchistan.

SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said that Pakistan has witnessed around 28 different police reform initiatives, but none yielded its fruits due to lack of ownership at all levels. “The implementation of different police orders in parts of Pakistan, in fact, has generated disparities among the police force”, he said, adding that it also has reflection on the people experiencing policing in a different manner.  A person at work in Islamabad has to experience policing according to the Police Act 1861 while the same person in Rawalpindi has to experience policing according to the Punjab Police Order 2013, which is an amended version of the Police Order 2002, he maintained.

One of challenges of rule of law in our country is reforming police on modern methods to ensure a just and peaceful society, said Dr Abid, adding that for that matter there is a need to analyse the pros and cons of the two diverse prevailing police orders being implemented in the federal and provincial capital.

Speaking later, Dr Shoaib Suddle, Ex-DG of Intelligence Bureau, said that the Police Order 2002, which was promulgated on 14 August 2002 replaced the Police Act 1861 in all four provinces of Pakistan. “This was not extended to the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) or Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK)”, he said, adding that based on the Police Order 2002, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa introduced their own police orders. Sindh initially adopted the same but later on in 2011, Sindh reverted back to the Police Act 1861, where, ICT and FATA also have the Police Act 1861 in place with some minor changes, he added.

Our police service is now in the state of fragmentation, which was exposed in the recent Faizabad sit-ins, where there was no coordination and collaboration between ICT police and Punjab police, Dr Suddle said, adding that unless we move toward a uniformed police law, we may not get out of this quagmire. While referring to the Article 148 of the Constitution, which says it is the duty of the federation to protect every province from the external aggression as well as internal chaos, he said that there should be one law for police service in the whole country.

Former judge Majid Bashir advocate said that there is no conviction on merit in our judicial system, where only five per cent conviction rates are on merit. Weak prosecution and poor investigation by the police is responsible for this sorry state of affairs, he said, adding that police should also play proactive and leadership role in current circumstances.

Javed Sikandar, Chief Governance Section, Planning Commission said that the police reforms cannot be effectively implemented unless criminal system was not reformed. He said that the planning commission has consulted several consultations with all stakeholders and it was concluded that the lack of political will, lack of resources, lack of monetary support, external interferences and resistance from bureaucracy were the major hurdles in effectively implementing Police Order 2002.

Humaira Masiuddin advocate said that our police have become a public frightening service, rather a public friendly service. “I am horrified that in the federal capital we have yet to change the one and a half centuries old police act, which is not compatible to the modern day needs, she said, adding that public friendly policing service in Pakistan is not possible with the presence of 150-year old police act.  She said the police order 2002 is an excellent document which ensures that the police force will be a role model for the society.

Shazia Sohail Meer PMLN MNA, Naeema Kishwar MNA JUIF, IG Motorway Dr Kalim Imam, IG ICT Dr Sultan Azam Temuri and IG Railway Dr Mujeeb-ur-Rehman e also participated in the seminar.