Police Reforms in Balochistan

Editorial written by me for Daily Balochistan Express on 27th August, 2018

It is heartening to see that the incumbent Chief Minister Balochistan has felt the immediate need of police reforms in the province to counter terrorism,

bring down rate of crimes, and build confidence of the masses in the very institution of Police. A news piece published in the columns of this newspaper also said that Chief Minister Balochistan Mr. Jam Kamal Aliyani took cognizance of the delay in establishment of Traffic Engineering Bureau and the traffic issues of Quetta city. Among other policy outlines which were envisaged for improving the Police Force in Balochistan,

establishment of a forensic laboratory, up-gradation of the police stations to a digitalized system, provision of modern equipment to the Police Department and up-gradation of the police officials and officers’ scales were keynote policy lines discussed during a five hour long session held with the high ups of Police Department.

There is no doubt that Police Force that functions within the urban centres of the province and Levies Force that covers the rural areas, making 80% of the province, have both rendered huge sacrifices in the previous decade that has been marked by the phenomenon of international terrorism. During his briefing to the Chief Minister Balochistan,

IG Police Mohsin Hassan Butt told CM that as many as 399 Policemen have lost their lives since 2013 in the conflict that has afflicted this province. Balochistan has been undergoing multiple predicaments since the second Afghan War that America launched in the neighbouring country. Call it sectarian violence, international terrorism, tribal conflicts within the province, political unrest, insurgency or any other form of violence, that finds a fine abode in Balochistan.

Under such challenging circumstances, the task of policing needs special training, equipment and intelligence. However, in Balochistan, trainings on micro-level have been witnessed in the past for Police under Army’s supervision but an overall overhaul and a paradigm shift in the policing has never taken place. The Balochistan police still functions on the outdated system introduced by the Colonial British era.

On other hand, adhocism has hampered much needed reforms in the way of the institutions. No doubt the paramilitary forces have a positive role to play in maintenance of peace and order but they are not a permanent solution to replace police as they lack basic police training to deal with the masses.

It is unfortunate to see that instead of making police a fully functional institution that should stand on its own footings, their powers have been delegated to paramilitary forces since 2012 with no foreseeable measures to handover responsibility where it belongs. On the other hand,

the Levies Force that is basically a community police, needs huge reforms, modernization, and equipment to stand as a rock against terrorism. But that too is functioning on the decades old lines demarcated by British colonial masters. The new government should, first of all,

change the outdated mindset that is a bottleneck in the way of change in the department. Modern technology is a good idea but the problem with the institutions in Balochistan is that majority of people in these very institutions are computer illiterate. Along with introduction of modern technology, government should also inject some fresh blood in the Police Force through Balochistan Public Service Commission (BPSC) on merit on positions such Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP).

Faulty system of promotions will only bring dead woods on the top that cause further decay of the institution. The Levies Force should also be upgraded and modernized in modern techniques of counter terrorism with fresh recruitments on the high positions through competitive exams.

There is no doubt that no institution in the province is free from the stigma of corruption and allegations of corruption are leveled against the office bearers of all departments off and on but when it comes to police department, the complaints are much higher. It is an institution that people see as a provider of justice but many a times many cases go unreported for fear of undergoing further ordeal at the hands of police.

Police Stations are temporary confinement centres and they keep an accused in detention under the legal obligation of ‘innocent until proved guilty’. But very unfortunately the lockups of these temporary institutions are even not suitable for animals to stay in. No cleanliness, no proper washrooms,

no proper heating or cooling system exist in these very confinement centres. Even accused who are yet to be proved guilty are not allowed to attend washrooms which happen to be outside lockups more than three times. This is against the fundamental human rights that a person who is yet to be proved guilty is treated worse than criminals. Moreover, the police also needs training in handling the juvenile cases properly.

Law defines a juvenile inherently innocent who doesn’t have criminal instinct and if a crime is committed by a juvenile unintentionally or by accident, he needs to be confined at a place known as Borstal institutions and not with hardened criminals. But practices seem to be contrary in Balochistan.

Forensic laboratories are not existent in Balochistan and as the need was conveyed by the IG police, at least one forensic laboratory should be established in the province to give police skills of modern ways of investigation. Similarly,

Police should connect itself with the masses through online communication and online FIR system. Establishment of Reconciliatory Committees (RCs) is really a good idea that provides instances for Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) to reduce burden not only on police but also on the judiciary and that must be implemented sooner than later.

The Chief Minister should carry out radical changes in this institution on infrastructural, human resource, and training fronts.

This only achievement would be enough to bring him back as leader of the house in the next general elections, if political will and level of seriousness is really high.

 

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