Modern Policing in Baluchistan: A continuing challenge?

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Akhlaq Ullah Tarar |

Policing in Baluchistan has seen many moons; various experiments have shaped up the present structure. A chronological study reveals the journey of evolution. During the colonial era (the year 1883), the British Chief Commissioner of Baluchistan Sir Robert Sandeman introduced a system of governance for Baluchistan after meticulously studying the underlying peculiarities.

He conceived the idea of Levies, which would be recruited with the approval of local sardars and yet remain under the control of state’s representative – Deputy Commissioner – so as to ensure peace, stability, and dispensation of justice. Levies were created to control crime and maintain law and order.

In 1990, Baluchistan High Court, in a landmark judgment, struck down the Ordinance of 1968, thereby abolishing the justice system administered through Jirga.

He was of the opinion that for turbulent areas–which are difficult to manage and are marred with fierce enmities and endless feuds– only appeasement and pacification could work where levies would co-opt and work with the local sardars.

Therefore, classification of ‘A’ and ‘B’ areas was drawn, wherein ‘A’ areas “had regular police where the judiciary carried out trials under the CrPC of 1898 and lawyers were allowed to represent the accused and the ‘B’ areas, controlled by Levies, lacked due process.

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After the creation of Pakistan, the status quo was maintained, and Sandeman style of policing remained intact in Baluchistan. It was in the year 1968 when Criminal Law (Special Provisions) Ordinance, 1968 was issued by Ayub Khan’s government, where Jirga system was legally recognized in “B” area, all the dispute would be settled through a jirga.

This Jirga law created a parallel system of justice. Moreover, in 1970, One Unit was abolished, which consequently re-created the province of Baluchistan as a separate province. There was a renewed hope that the rule of law and due process would be introduced.

Furthermore, in April 1976, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto visited Baluchistan and ordered to abolish local tribal sardari system. Thereby, the system of private justice was abolished and no individual or group could arrest or detain anyone or have private prisons, and they could not force anyone to work against one’s will.

The aim was to shift from a force model to ‘service-oriented model’ with democratic oversight.

It was an unprecedented and historic step, which greatly repudiated the inhuman tribal practices. However, unfortunately, he could not repeal the draconian 1968 Jirga Ordinance, which was applicable in 95% of the total area of Baluchistan.

In those times, Police had limited space to operate; it was restricted to merely 5% of the total area of the province. However, there was a strong realization, even at that time, that extension of police jurisdiction was not only necessary but inevitable. In the modern statecraft, the state cannot be governed on local tribal values and customs.

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Laws reflect collective wisdom and protect the rights of all citizens alike, and above all, they represent a legal framework of the state and derive their legitimacy from the Constitution. In 1990, Baluchistan High Court, in a landmark judgment, struck down the Ordinance of 1968, thereby abolishing the justice system administered through Jirga. It was a watershed moment.

In this judgment, the procedural and substantive laws of the criminal justice system (CrPC and PPC) were extended to the entire Baluchistan province, whereby trial would be conducted by the Judicial Magistrate. In this new system, courts of law were to be established and judicial magistrates appointed to undertake judicial work.

Tariq Khosa worked diligently on the conversion process and marshaled support from all the stakeholders.

However, push to reform agenda came in the Musharraf regime. He introduced a body named National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB). It was made as an independent and autonomous body aimed at devising laws to empower people and revise colonial institutional arrangements through institutional reforms. Think tanks were created under the NRB produced Police Order, 2002. The aim was to shift from a force model to ‘service-oriented model’ with democratic oversight.

In 2003, the federal government earmarked Rs. 5 billion for the conversion of ‘B’ areas of Baluchistan into ‘A’ areas. It was an important departure from the past. The underlying aim was to empower the general public, dispense speedy justice, control crime, and curb terrorism effectively and ensure writ of the state through police in otherwise tribal areas.

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To materialize this, a project was created in Central Police Office of Baluchistan to monitor all the conversion process within the stipulated timeframe and ensure the provision of other necessary paraphernalia. The process was started under Dr. Shoaib Suddle, the-then Inspection General of Police (IGP) in Baluchistan. Fortunately, the political government, at both the federal and provincial level, extended all possible assistance.

In fact, the first three districts where the writ of police was established (Quetta, Lasbela, and Naseerabad), were the constituencies of the ruling elite. Zafarullah Khan Jamali, the Prime Minister at the time, voluntarily offered his own constituency to be brought into the fold of ‘A’ area. Similarly, Jam Muhammad Yousaf, the then-CM of Baluchistan, followed suit and offered his constituency, Lasbela, to be ‘A’ area.

It was a shattering blow that threw the province back into tribal times. It is time to gather again for rule of law and rights of people of Baluchistan.

Those were the ideal times, the police leadership was capable of steering reforms and speeding up the conversion process. The political leadership was supportive and cooperated in ushering an era of rule of law and equal treatment for everyone. Chaudhary Yaqoob replaced Dr. Shoaib Suddle as IGP Balochistan. He served for a long period of time and ensured the continuity of the conversion process without any breaks.

He brought 10 more districts into ‘A’ areas. The consolidated base formally established was further culminated by another IGP Baluchistan, Tariq Khosa. In his year-long tenure, he brought the remaining 17 districts into ‘A’ area. On August 14, 2007, Tariq Khosa gave independence gift to the people by converting all the districts to ‘A’ category.

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It was based on the premise that the state protects better than the sardars. Tariq Khosa worked diligently on the conversion process and marshaled support from all the stakeholders. He worked in close collaboration with Chief Secretary K.B. Rind to ensure that Baluchistan was governed by uniform police law. Eventually, his efforts bore fruit, and he succeeded in the most agreeable pursuit.

However, all efforts to organize the police on professional lines and ensure rule of law received a setback. In 2008, Baluchistan Provincial Assembly passed a resolution which reverted back all the areas from ‘A’ to ‘B’ category, similar to the arrangement prior to 2003.

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The resolution was passed on the pretext that the conversion process and newly established arrangements were costly and averse to the local traditions. It was a shattering blow that threw the province back into tribal times. It is time to gather again for rule of law and rights of people of Baluchistan.

Akhlaq Ullah Tarar is an officer of Police Service of Pakistan, working in Baluchistan and can be reached at akhlaqtarar5959@gmail.com. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space. 


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