The Punjab police have disappointed us

Pakistan on 25 June 2014
Location : Pakistan | Source : Express Tribune. Image Source: Express Tribune

The brutal killing of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek workers in a police shootout has raised many questions and exposed claims of the rulers who intend to change the shabby ‘thana culture’ in Punjab.

Being a common citizen, I am not sorely concerned about the audacity with which extra-judicial killings were carried out. The PML-N government, since the last six years, is making promises of rooting out police high-handedness and abuse of authority. There have been promises that the police will be friendly, polite and will not be used for the political victimisation of opponents. Much public money has been channelled out to police force to lift its morale and remove the trust deficit with citizens. A police reform committee was established for the purpose.

But the recent tyranny of the police in Lahore, mere arm’s length from the chief minister’s residence, has exposed the truth of all the tall claims being made to make the police a ‘pleasanter’ law-enforcing body. The activists may pelt stones in their zeal — but the firing of bullets on political workers, that too by a force which is part of the state machinery, is not justified. Normally, the police uses plastic bullets, water guns and tear gas to overcome an unruly mob.

But it was ghastly to learn that bullets were used — the sort that are used to target enemies and criminals. They were fired so skillfully that all the deceased and injured received bullets at front side, the upper half of the body. Firing was not indiscriminate; it was targeted. What compelled me most to write this piece was the senseless actions by the Police Service of Pakistan (PSP) officers in handling of female workers. TV footages exposed how PSP officials roughly beat some women. One must note that the PSP comprises some of the most educated people in the police force, who come in after passing the prestigious CSS exam. They are given training as per international standard. These educated people are tasked with civilising the police force, fostering a friendly environment in police and curbing high-handedness. The tragedy confirms that the force is clearly disappointing us.

The claim by the provincial chief minister that he was not in the loop of that operation was a ridiculous one. If he is so ignorant, then maybe he does not deserve his office. If he knows, then is responsible for the tragedy. That said, it is time for some serious police reforms.

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