Before coming to power, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had claimed to have brought reforms in the Punjab Police and the most important task in these reforms was to eliminate political interference from the police.
However, some documents obtained from the Punjab Police revealed that in the last two years, recommendations for the transfer and posting of more than 250 police officials, including junior and senior staff, had been given out by political figures. Most of these figures are members of the Provincial and National Assemblies who belong to the PTI. However, some personalities also belong to other political parties.
Documents revealed that former special assistant to the prime minister on information and broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, who hails from Sialkot, had recommended the transfer of two policemen last year. One of them was Nasir Mahmood while the other was Zaheer Abbas. Nasir was recommended to be transferred from Lahore CTD to District Police Sialkot and Zaheer from Lahore Police to District Police Sialkot.
Punjab Minister for Auqaf and Religious Affairs Pir Syed Saeedul Hassan approached Punjab Police for the transfer of Ali Zaman from Dolphin Force Lahore to Gujranwala, Muhammad Asif from Traffic Punjab to District Police Chiniot, Muhammad Ilyas from Elite Force Lahore to District Narowal and Ali Kamran for reinstated into service. The Punjab Police also received recommendations from the minister for the transfer and posting of a few more police officials.
Punjab Higher Education Minister Raja Yassir Humayun Sarfraz also recommended to the Punjab Police for the transfer posting of three police personnel.
The father and brother of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Ahmed Buzdar have also recommended the transfer of police personnel.
Ghulam Sarwar Khan, who is the current Federal Minister for Aviation, has approached Punjab police for the reinstatement of Khurram Shahzad.
In the last two years, the sitting members of PTI in Punjab Assembly, including Shahabuddin Khan, Ghulam Ali Asghar Khan Lahri, and Chaudhry Iftikhar Hussain, Mian Khalid Mahmood, Ghazanfar Abbas, have interfered politically in the police department for transfers, postings, reinstatement and cancelation of transfers and postings.
Similarly, the sitting members of PTI in National Assembly, including Rai Hasan Nawaz Khan, Haji Imtiaz Ahmed Chaudhary, Raza Nasrullah, Shoukat Ali Bhatti, Sardar Talib Hassan Nakai, Niaz Ahmed, have also approached Punjab Police for various transfer postings of their blue eyed.
Sources in Punjab Police believe that most of these recommendations may have been implemented, but it is also possible that these recommendations have been rejected by police officers because many officials are against political interference in the department and they do not like the hierarchy of the department to be disturbed without knowing any background.
Sources also claimed that no funds have been allocated by the government for police reforms so far while political interference in Punjab police has increased even more than the previous government.
Two years of the present government have come to an end but the Punjab Police has not been reformed and political interference has not ended. The incumbent government has replaced six inspector generals of police (IGP) in Punjab in its two years. In the first year, Chief Minister Buzdar replaced IGP Kaleem Imam with Muhammad Tahir, while a few weeks after his appointment, he was replaced by Additional IG Amjad Javed Salimi. Nasir Durrani, the chairman of Police Reforms Commission, also resigned after the Tahir’s removal.
It is also pertinent to mention here that the PTI government had appointed former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) IGP Nasir Khan Durrani as chairman of the Punjab Police Reforms Commission and gave him a special task of police reform. Sources said that Durrani had resigned on the issue of change of Tahir and political interference in the police, and he also expressed disappointment that he had been given the responsibility of reforming the Punjab Police and assured for the non-political interference.
Even after the recent appointment of Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Umar Sheikh, there was an uproar that there were political hands behind this posting, which were aimed at removing anti-government elements through police in Punjab and that was the reason why Shoaib Dastgir, the then-IGP, who was an obstacle in the way of the posting of Sheikh, was also replaced.
Punjab Government Spokesperson Mussarat Jamshed Cheema told Pakistan Today that the culture of police in rural areas is very different from that in cities, “Our government is still trying to depoliticise the police but unfortunately the police have become depoliticised for the PTI but are still facilitating other political parties. The police have to be de-politicised after all and that will happen soon. Of course, the amount of time it took to complete the process was beyond our expectations. We are developing a comprehensive program to prevent political interference in the police. Political interference in the police will not be noticed but action will be taken.”
“We also want to run the Punjab Police on the model of KP police as it is the best system which has neither political interference nor recommendation culture. We have to make the police department unbiased and when parliamentarians and politicians know that the police have become unbiased, the culture of political interference will end automatically,” she concluded.
The police are already considered to be one of the most corrupt institutions in Pakistan and it is believed that they are engaged in giving the services to a certain class instead of protecting the common man and this particular class gives them every comfort in return for their services.
If we take a historical look at the police system in the subcontinent, policing existed here during the Mughal era, but when the British occupied it, it changed the police system, among other things, according to the psyche of each occupier.
British imperialism introduced a magisterial system in which the Darogha and other subordinate officers were recruited for policing. The British rulers had introduced that modern system of policing to achieve their specific goals so that they could maintain their control over the locals but unfortunately this system made by the British is not only running in our country even after independence but also the specific objectives of running this system have not changed. That is to say, even today, the ruling class and other influential classes are using the police for their specific purposes, the result of which is the destruction of this institution.
It is strange that the rulers who have come in every era have first raised the slogan of stopping political interference in the police and later obstructed it themselves because their personal system cannot function without the police.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had in many of his meetings and speeches before coming to power stressed that if he came to power, he would improve the structure of this corrupt department through reforms and make it a professional and strong institution which will be free from any kind of political interference. He had repeatedly mentioned that parties like the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) have interfered in the police and made it a powerless and paralysed institution but it is unfortunate that members of PM Imran’s own party are promoting political interference in the police department and there has been no progress on police reforms.
There is no denying the fact that the PTI’s reforms in the KP Police have significantly improved the performance of the provincial police force, but the problem of the Punjab Police is more complex than that of the KP Police and the main reason is its structure and political interference. Unless there is a comprehensive system of police reforms and its accountability and it is free from political interference, it will not make any difference if six IGPs are replaced again by 20 more IGPs. Instead of changing the IGPs and chief secretaries in Punjab, the prime minister should use the option of reforming the police and removing it from politics and changing important political figures.