Police force in any country is responsible to maintain law and order situation and to protect its citizens. But it is very tragic and unfortunate if the same force starts killing the people for whom’s safety it is appointed. Some cases in the month of January have raised many questions about the performance of police especially in Sindh and Punjab.
The brutal murder of 27-year-old Naqeebullah Mehsud, along with three other suspected terrorists showed how some members of the law enforcement enjoy apparent impunity. Similarly, Anti-Car Lifting Cell (ACLC) of Karachi police gunned down 19-year-old Intizar Ahmad for no explicable reason. In both the cases, the preliminary reports have maintained that Naqeebullah Mehsud had no history of militancy or criminal activity and was killed in a fake encounter. Similarly, the CCTV footage showed that ACLC officials in two cars and two motorcycles stopped Intizar’s car to confirm his presence before killing him. The other examples of killing innocent people are the Model Town, Lahore incident in which fourteen people including women and children were killed in an anti encroachment derive and the subsequent murders of two protesters after the tragic death of Zainab in Kasur. These are not the only cases of extrajudicial killing; the only difference between these and others cases buried in the history is that these were highlighted by the media and civil society protested and forced the administration to take action against these.
These events have unveiled the internal incompetency and ineptness pervasive in the police department and show how police force is abandoning the basic human qualities like mercy and compassion. It is difficult to imagine that one human being is directly firing at innocent and unarmed citizens. Now the situation has reached to this extent that common masses have lost all their faith in the conduct of the police. Across the country, instead of respecting the police, the public almost always fears the law enforcers. This can be the reason that the parents of Zainab demanded justice from the army and judiciary and not the police or the provincial government.
These alarming facts make us think do something before it is too late. It is time to introduce some revolutionary changes in this department. If one observes why the police have become indifferent to the plights of citizens, the first answer comes to mind is political interference which is demoralising the department. The political intervention has taken away the realization in the police department that what are its fundamental duties. On an immediate basis, the government needs to work toward emancipating the police from the holds of local politicians and setting tough rules and regulations while giving them proper training. Ethical and moral training should be given to not only low ranking police constables but also to the officers. In this way we can expect that an element of courtesy will be ingrained in the general behavior of the regular policeman. The KP has taken an initiative and has introduced the new police reforms which are bringing a positive change.
Police accountability is an important factor of any efficient policing regime in world. The government should also devise an effective regulatory mechanism to regulate the behaviour and actions of the police. It can make an independent department which can keep check over misconduct the police officers. This body can also include honest retired police officers.
All the above mentioned facts neither mean to demoralize the police force nor should anyone think that each and every man in the force is bad rather there are always some elements like Rao Anwar which become powerful and start dominating the overall image of any department. Otherwise, police is a civil force of any state whose prime job is to enforce the law, prevent crimes and maintain public order and safety. In order to enable the police to effectively discharge these functions, the state adequately empowers this department to use legitimate physical force. However, this authority is by no means arbitrary, unrestrained and unlimited. The police are always supposed to exercise this authority within defined parameters and legal framework.
It is the right time to effect systemic change. People hope that Naqeebullah and Intizar’s killers will be identified and punished under the law. Bringing these perpetrators to justice will also send a strong message to rogue cops involved in staged encounters. At the same time all elements in the chain of command that condone such practices should also be identified and punished appropriately. It is 21st century and this there is no room for barbaric acts of Stone Age. Besides these, other people such complaints should also be resolved.
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