Promising tangible reforms in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan had said his government would soon introduce the Police Act in the assembly to reform the force.
Khan was speaking to participants at the launch ceremony of the Public Liaison Councils (PLCs) at Police Lines in Peshawar in November 2015.
The reforms, he said would be so effective that no succeeding government would be willing to amend them.
Khan had said that Chief Minister Pervez Khattak had empowered the K-P inspector general of police to restore peace. He had said that the IG was asked to take steps to improve security throughout the province.
He said that through PLCs, disputes could be resolved on a local level and crime rates would further decrease. He said members of the councils and local elders supported the police in their collective efforts to stop crime.
Later, in January this year, the KP Assembly passed the KP Police Bill 2017, Ehtesab Commission (amendment) Bill, 2017 and the KP Salaries, Allowances and Privileges Laws (amendment) Bill, 2017.
The Police Bill is aimed at bringing reforms in the police force. Besides other points, the bill gives financial and transfer and postings powers to the inspector general of police. Though, the bill was passed unanimously but the opposition members objected to the transfer of powers to the police chief.
Truth Tracker approached Arif Yousuf, Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) from PTI and special assistant to chief minister, who without elaborating positive changes in the police system said the police culture has totally changed and now there is visible peace in the province.
Arif said the First Information Report (FIR) could now be filed online discarding the necessity of plaintiff’s physical appearance in the police station.
When asked if the power transfer to Inspector General (IG) Police could make it a one-man show, he said that every citizen has the right to register a complaint against any police officer.
“The PTI has put an end to the culture of political interference in the police department,” he remarked.
Mian Iftikhar Hussain Shah, Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) from Awami National Party (ANP) and former information minister, said police reforms is a direly needed subject to be carried amid PTI’s converse claims of police independence and de-politicisation.
“Our police force has already gone into depression because of its poor service structure,” Mian noted. How police would turn out to be an efficient force at a time when the PTI has empowered the top most police officer (the IG) while low ranking district police officers are discouraged, he questioned.
“Look, talking non-stop is one thing and doing things practically is something different,” Mian said in an apparent reference to PTI promises of change in the province. He said that the PTI boasts of introducing online registration of FIR but he wonders how is it possible to register an online FIR when poor people face unspeakable problems when they record FIR physically.
Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha, an MPA from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said the PTI reform to improve the police system has virtually destroyed the police system.
According to police reforms, the PTI has empowered one man—the IG of the province— and when the top police officer has all the powers then the system tends to collapse, he added.
“Don’t ask me about the so-called police reforms, talk to a police station officer who will for sure reject the new system because all the powers are in the hands of one person—the IG,” he added.
Sayed Jaffar Shah, an MPA from ANP, said that according to the new police act, all powers have gone into the hands of IG who would do whatever he wants because there is no proper check and balance system.
He said reforms do not mean to empower one person but the PTI should have provided the police force with advanced weapons and vehicles to fight back criminal elements efficiently.
“I foresee, the province is going to become a sort of police state,” Jaffar observed.
Azam Khan, another MPA from Jamiat Ulamai Islam-F (JUI-F), said these all are media hype and there were zero changes on the ground during the PTI tenure.
“We have the same police culture, same police stations and same policemen with no visible changes,” Azam noted.
Muhammad Ali Shah Bacha, another MPA from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), said that he really appreciates if there are result-oriented reforms in each and every department.
“But giving powers into the hands of one person clearly means, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Bacha said in an apparent reference to powers given to the IG.
Rehmat Khan, additional inspector general (AIG) police (Retd) and an independent analyst, said he is really did not thoroughly read the police reforms package introduced by the PTI government but he would speak about police force’s requirements.
He said the police force could perform brilliantly if the force is made internally independent, no political or any other kinds of pressure, need and clean recruitment and advanced training and equipments.
He said that police officers promotion should be performance based to promote only competent officers, which would help reduce the crime rate to great extent.
In the light of comments and views of ruling, opposition lawmakers and an independent analyst, the PTI has brought some amendments in the police system but most of service men are not satisfied. Truth Tracker finds that the PTI promise to reform the police system is underway. However, until results can confirm success thumbs up to PTI will have to wait.