PESHAWAR: If the views of IGP Nasir Khan Durrani are to be believed, a glaring lack of resources, infrastructure and power have inhibited the police from fulfilling their responsibilities. He is also of the impression that the police’s failure to handle perilous circumstance springs from the absence of training to deal with situation in a “state of war”.
A few days ago, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police observed Youm-e-Shuhada to pay tribute to officers who have sacrificed their lives in combatting militancy in the province. A large number of gatherings were held across the province.
Tales of sacrifice
Durrani and his team must be commended for arranging such events to pay tribute to slain police officials. No one can ignore the unprecedented sacrifices rendered by the police force in the war against militancy.
Before and after the 2008 general elections, law and order had deteriorated in K-P and the scourge of militancy had made life practically unlivable for the public. Most officials were reluctant to perform their duties. According to statistics, more than 280 security force personnel were held hostage by militants in the tribal belt.
The K-P police must be given due credit for taking steps to restore the writ of the law in all districts of the province and protect the public.
The police force has not only cleared K-P of terrorists but has also extended its support to the Frontier Corps and Frontier Constabulary in challenging militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Eye on the shortcomings
On Youm-e-Shuhada, Durrani not only drew attention to the sacrifices of the police but also shed light on the shortcomings. Command and authority are integral ingredients that can enable the police to fulfil its responsibilities. In a similar vein, the provincial police are also facing a shortage manpower, skills and training. At least 10,000 personnel who were inducted in the Special Police Force are still uncertain about their future.
For a long time, successive governments have making tall claims to strengthen the force. From time to time, special grants and funds were being announced for the purpose. However, no government has managed to take steps to implement these promises.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led provincial government has yet to give a tangible shape to the tall claims of empowering the police and ensuring it depoliticized and independent. On the contrary, the provincial government has gone a step forward by creating mistrust between the civil and police bureaucracy. The Civil Superior Services is at loggerhead with the Provincial Civil Services. On the other hand, PTI Chairperson Imran Khan and his aides are reluctant to strengthen the police force and make it independent and responsible.
A majority of police stations have been established in rented buildings that are in a state of disrepair. Most personnel are compelled to extract bribe from people as they do not have adequate funds. Many of them do not receive additional allowances for working round-the-clock. Some officers live in dilapidated barracks or tents put up at police station. Their ways of life can be likened with refugees.
The public is particularly optimistic about the police as they have suffered for little more than four decades and have been sandwiched among personnel of multiple law-enforcement agencies.
The K-P police also comprises elements who have added to the miseries of the public. At this critical juncture, special attention must be paid to improving the attitude of police officers. They must be made responsive to the public as their counterparts are in the west.
The times have changed. Young people are aware about the approach adopted by the police in the west. Durrani is bound to make the force is responsive. Unless the police force manages to win the hearts of the public, it will be hard for it to build its image and fulfil its responsibilities.