Police Reforms in Pakistan: Draft Punjab Police Act, 2010
The performance of law enforcement throughout the Pakistan is often unprofessional, unaccountable and unsatisfactory. The deficiency stems from a number of factors. First, there is tremendous political interference in the conduct of police. Second, there are very few functional mechanisms to hold the police accountable for wrongdoing. Third, the police are seriously under-resourced and ill-equipped to meet the challenges posed by violent insurgency (specifically) and maintaining law and order (generally).
Former President Musharraf engaged in a misguided effort to address these concerns. Although the language of the original Police Order, 2002 (PO 2002) was quite progressive and included many provisions that are essential for democratic policing, his efforts were “misguided” because he sought to usurp the constitutional right of provinces to legislate on matters pertaining to law and order. Granted, the 1973 Constitution permits Parliament to legislate on criminal and procedural law (including all matters found in the Pakistan Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code) by placing that power on the Concurrent Legislative List. However, the fact remains that primary responsibility for policing matters reside with the provinces.
Thus, with the expiry of the PO 2002 Punjab has decided to draft a new police act. At the moment it appears that there are multiple drafts being mooted. The version the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has managed to secure can be found here. On 12 February 2010, there will be an initial consultation bringing together various stakeholders to discuss the proposed legislation. The HRCP and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative will work closely together to critique the draft bills and provide constructive suggestions on what ideal legislation should look like.