Former top police officer blames successive military regimes for destroying police force

By Zulfiqar Ahmad

ISLAMABAD: A top former police officer, Shoaib Suddle, who is widely regarded for his unblemished career record, on Thursday blamed successive military regimes of making the country’s police force redundant.

Briefing Senate Committee of the Whole House along with Afzal Ali Shigri, a former inspector-general of Sindh police, who is also known for his integrity, on the special invitation of chairman Senate, Suddle said that the martial law regimes made the role of the police irrelevant.

The Committee of the Whole House of Senate, is currently debating a motion on how to ensure speedy and inexpensive justice to the people, where the experts from diverse background are invited to give their opinion so it can give its recommendations.

Speaking on bringing reforms in the police, which is thought to be very corrupt, Suddle underlined the need of political will for transforming the police into a model institution like the Motorway Police, a police force responsible for enforcement of traffic and safety laws on national highways and motorway network.

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif used to travel via motorway from Lahore to Islamabad when it was first built …he [Nawaz sharif] was also issued a challan by the motorway police, which he accepted and this helped it making a model institution,” he added.

The political interference, he added, is one of major reasons, the police are unable to perform its duties. “Even a tiny police constable should not accept the illegal and unlawful order of the politicians,” he said.

“Political interference, recruitment without following the merit, lack of enough resources, are some of the factors, coupled with the fear of saying no to the political bosses by the seniors police officers of IG level, are the reasons due to which we could not improve our policing,” he maintained.

“Nawaz sharif was also issued a challan by the motorway police, which he accepted and this helped it making a model institution.”

The two top former police officers said that the Police Ordinance 2002 was introduced with much gusto, aimed at reinventing the police to prevent and detect crime more efficiently and maintain public order, was also not implemented by successive civilian governments.

They said that it was such a comprehensive piece of legislation, which was also endorsed by some international agencies such as EU and was adopted by a good number of foreign countries including India, “but we, the Pakistanis are only good at making policies, and implementation has never been our priority.”

Suddle, who also served as director general, National Police Bureau (NPB), said that if the government had made the bureau fully operational by giving it all the resources, there would be no need to create National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta), which has again become dysfunctional due to lack of proper resources and funding.

About the institution of Federal Tax Ombudsman, he said it could play an important role in resolving the issues if made a proper institution with adequate resources and powers, saying that the current one has no importance as it does not have powers.

He recommended to set up independent ombudsman on criminal justice at the provinces. He said that there was a need to pay special attention towards detection instead of putting people behind the bars on the basis of FIRs, which turn out to be fake in most of the cases.

Terming the intelligence gathering as the lifeline of the policing, he proposed to do away with the policy of inducting non-PSP officers in the Intelligence Bureau (IB). He said that the presence of special branch at sensitive tehsil level as well as at sensitive police stations is a must in order to control the crime.

To a question by Senator Mushahid Hussain on an effective counter-terrorism policy, he said there should be close co-ordination among all the intelligence agencies, and the key role should be played by the interior ministry.

He also said that National Public Safety Commission, which has been made dysfunctional for the last 8-9 years, should be made functional. Suddle also underscored the need to ensure accountability within the police service.

To a question by Senator Farhatullah Babar that police should not make arrests only on the basis of FIRs without investigation under public pressure, he said a policeman should be worth his a salt to resist the pressure if he is a soldier.

“I would like to stress that the media should out-rightly condemn the arrests without evidence and the courts. Frequent transfers of IGs and the SHOs should be stopped and once an SHO is punished, he should not be appointed at this position ever again, which will help in streamlining the corrupt police system,” he added.

To a question about A and B-Areas – which are manned by and are under the control of the Levies are called B-Areas while those under the control of the Balochistan Police are dubbed A-Areas – he said there should be one system whether A or B.

Chaudhry Muhammad Asharf Gujjar, advocate Supreme Court, who is also convenor of a committee on legal reforms set up by the prime minister, said that notary public and oath commissioner – a legally authorised individual who can administer oath and witness and authenticate documents – should be abolished, as their role is nothing but stamping a document without any verification.

He said that the fine for extending stay orders on fake grounds should be increased from the current Rs10,000 to Rs100,000 to 150,000. Another proposal from Gujjar was not to give adjournment on the request of the lawyer, adding there should be a proper law, binding the judge of the lower courts to conclude criminal cases within six months while civil cases should be disposed of within a year.

He said that in case of any delay by the judges within the given time frame, he/she should bound to explain the reason before the chief justice of the concerned high court, saying that over 90 percent cases in lower judiciary are pending for several years, depriving the people from their right to justice.

Source: Business Recorder