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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Pakistan’s administration needs a wake-up call! – Dr. Farid A. Malik

Dr. Farid A Malik, an ex-Chairman of Pakistan Science Foundation highlights how the issues of corruption, misuse of authority and highhandedness have not been dealt with through effective internal and external accountability mechanisms. He also narrates his personal experiences to explain the issues well.

Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan in his recent tour of Lahore showed his annoyance at the delayed response of the Police to deal with the mob attack on the Tiktokers at the Greater Iqbal Park on August 14, 2021. I am sure the PM was speaking his mind based on the feedback given to him by the local leadership/administration.

Punjab Police should be renamed as the Gawalmandi-Gujrati (GG) force raised by the Sharifs and Chaudhry’s. Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi the founder of the Chaudhry Political Dynasty was himself a dismissed Foot Constable who was introduced into the arena by the first dictator Ayub Khan while Sharif’s were the find of the third usurper Zia-ul-Haq.

Together they recruited all the ruffians and criminals of the area to ensure their electability. The entire force up to the DSP (Deputy Superidentant) level consists of their inductees while the officers of Police Service of Pakistan (PSP) come through Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) and are inducted as ASP’s (Assistant Superidentant). There is a clear divide between the political appointees and those who come through open competition and merit. A PSP officer, Abbas Khan, had the unique distinction of heading the force in all the four provinces of Pakistan.

Read more: Corrupt bureaucrats: An uphill battle for Pakistan?

During his stint as Inspector General (IG) Punjab, he held a press conference in which he revealed that criminals had been recruited in the province after the 1985 party-less elections. The very next day he was removed by Shehbaz Sharif, the Chief Minister (CM).

Police reforms were high on the agenda of the PM. Nasir Durrani (Late) as IG introduced sweeping reforms in the force in KP. He was then sent to Punjab, to clean up the GG force menace in the largest province of the federation. When his honest efforts were blocked, as an honorable professional he resigned from his position. Unfortunately, good people come with smaller life spans, he fell victim to the Corona Pandemic and passed away last year. In order to improve their image, Shehbaz Sharif living up to his own demeanor of ‘Show-baz Sharif’ spent billions in changing their uniform.

Old wine in new bottles?

It proved to be proverbial. Like most other civilian departments, their services have been privatized. While all expenses are borne by the people, the force operates on the principle of ‘No payment, no service.’ There is no chain of command or monitoring as such, no response unless there is a potential financial reward. Instead of enforcement of the law, the Police act as an intermediary, forcing agreements under duress between the accused and the accuser.

Challans, FIRs are prepared at will. Every Police Station is autonomous under the SHO  (Station House Officer). Occasionally the SHO’s are removed when their conduct becomes indefensible but eventually, they manage to spring a comeback. In the famous Justice Cornelius Administrative Reforms Commission report, the unlimited powers of the SHO were discussed at length. Over the years, despite consuming increased financial resources of the nation, their performance has declined manifold.

Read more: Pakistan: World of notices, directives & tasks but no follow up

Perhaps the worst part has been the induction of criminals into the force thanks to Sharifs and Chaudhrys who now operate on both sides of the law. For the public, they have become a menace because they are untouchable. As they are mostly focused on their own illegal activities, there is no question of response.

Caught in the act!

A few years back, I had a unique encounter with the men in uniform. Across from our ancestral house, there was an Imambargah where two constables were posted for maintenance of law. My mother was abroad, so the house was unattended.

Every morning I drove up to the property for a quick check-up. One day my arrival was delayed. It was a sweltering afternoon, considering the security of the posted Police Constables, I left the car and AC running while I walked inside the gate. Very soon I noticed that someone was trying to move my car. By the time I came out, the car was being driven away. My shouts paid off and the car was stopped by the intervention of the neighbors.

To our surprise, the person on the wheels was one of the Constables on duty. He was caught red-handed. In his defense he came up with an excuse, his narrative was that it was just to teach me a lesson not to leave a running car unattended. Public opinion was divided, some wanted him to be taken to the Police station like a criminal while others wanted him to let go. I took all his details and forwarded it to my friend who was then an SP, investigating crimes committed by men in uniform.

Read more: Gen. Zia introduced Celebrations of 14th August have eroded its historic sanctity!

I remember the days gone by when we visited the Civil Lines Police Station almost every day as my father’s childhood friend Muhammad Sharif Chandi was posted there. In those days Police Officers were given titles like; Halaku Khan, Boxer, Chandi, Chitta, etc. Almost the entire force resided within the premises with complete boarding and lodging facilities. The officers lived in apartments, while the constables were in barracks. The most beloved Police Officer of his time, L.R. Niblett (Late) also resided there with his two sons, Larry and Gary. No one could slip away as their activities were accounted for.

Currently, despite all the budgetary allocations, no one lives within the station of duty. The messes are non-operative, food is mostly usurped from the nearby vendors. On my last visit to a Thana, I was offered fresh orange juice which I took for sugarcane extract, and excused myself. On inquiry, I was told that now the environment had changed but then there were complaints as well. The Investigating Officers complained that there are no allocations for travel or stay for purposes of investigation.

An insight into non-functional bureaucracy

The entire transport fleet was ill-kept with massive pilferage of fuel and parts. So for any investigation to take place, food and travel have to be covered by the aggrieved party or pray for heavenly intervention.

Now coming back to the issue of delayed response, with no enforceable SOP, no transport, no fuel, no monitoring, no check, no accountability, only a very devoted and conscientious saint could be expected to perform which I am sure the Punjab Police is not, considering the character of their founding fathers who originated from Gawalmandi and Gujrat. Unless the ground realities are understood, improved performance or good governance will remain a pipe dream. It is not only the Police, the entire bureaucracy is non-functional. Even officer hours are not kept, letters remain unrealized.

Read more: To the “reluctant honchos”, Pakistan needs honest leadership – Dr. Farid A. Malik

Responsiveness does not exist at any level. There has to be a wake-up call, perhaps only 1122 emergency is functional, rest remain unresponsive till jolted into action with unlimited response time. In Spanish, it is always ‘As talay maniana’ (will do it tomorrow). Till 1985 the Police were only corrupt, today even criminals are within its fold. A massive re-entrenchment all the way up to the rank of DSP is needed to restore it. If still around, I am sure Ex IG Abbas Khan can help.

The writer is an Ex-Chairman of the Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be reached at fmaliks@hotmail.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.