Police reforms and intervention

Jan 15, 2019

Complaints against the police have received little attention in the past but Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar seeks to change that. The Police Reforms Committee has noted various areas for improvement in policing practices, alluding to violations by provinces in rejecting certain constitutional articles. This comes in a timely manner following the January 13 unrest in Karachi when an estimated 12,000 to 30,000 candidates turned up outside Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital for job interviews. Desperation resulted in the police resorting to physical violence to control the crowd. Despite the police’s success in controlling the crowd, there needs to be more introspection about how to handle such a situation especially when dealing with a crowd of emotionally-charged and desperate youth.

The sheer number of candidates lined up at Civil Hospital for lower-level jobs paints a gloomy picture because thousands are only qualified enough to seek jobs at that level. Even though some were said to have graduate degrees, it is pitiful that they also sought such jobs. This highlights the need to enforce public education for all but also focus on economic development to create job opportunities. Government intervention can facilitate this.

Societal pressure placed on men due to their assumed role as primary breadwinners in the family can have unintended consequences for mental health. The police resorting to baton charge and this being televised add insult to injury. This is downright unreasonable. We care little about human dignity, which is why the Law and Justice Commission needed to investigate complaints against provincial police forces. With respect to the three terms of reference, including model police laws and reforms, accountability is a major one with incompetence resulting in “collateral damage” like in the case of the little girl Amal in Karachi. Honest and fair investigations further need to be part of the policing framework. These measures hopefully would place a check on abuse of power.