Brevity of Tenures in Pakistan’s Police Service

By Muntazir Hussain 

Institutional history vindicates that the police department of any state holds multifaceted responsibilities pertaining to internal administrative management and externally to maintain law and order situations in the assigned areas. However, in context of Pakistan this department has failed to achieve considerable targeted endeavors due to numerous intervening impediments. Unfortunately, the entire history of Pakistan’s police has been ignored by the ruling leadership. The department fell short in terms of policy reformation as the dominant elites completely failed to introduce any purely indigenous Police Act. Pakistan has inherited the colonial version of policing with few amendments. The “British Police Act of 1861” had provided the blueprint for policing. Under this Act the Inspector General of Police (IGP) was the highest ranking police officer in the province appointed by the federal government. The function of the IGP was to assist or advisory to maintain the law and order in the province. The Act of 1861 continued till 2002. President Musharraf had tried to replace it with the indigenous one (not purely) and assigned a specified name and referred it as the “Police Order 2002”. With the promulgation of order the term Inspector General of Police was replaced and styled as the Provincial Police officer (PPO).

Since its inception, Pakistan’s political elite had made no significant progressive development to reform the police institution adequately. Whenever they had initiated, it proved counterproductive. Citing the reference of Police Act of 1861 and 2002, these police acts can be concluded that instead of improving the position and structure, Pakistan’s ruling elite utterly kept maximum influence over police institution. Although, the Police Act 1861 has been criticized time and again for being a colonial law, public and most importantly owing to its control of power, for instance subordinate status of Police to Magistrate, but in reality the “District Magistrate” provided a kind of barrier to police excess. Now, it is important to critically analyze the Police Order 2002. Pragmatically approach was that it “politicized the police”. This really harmed the institutional integrity of police organization by giving supervisory role and power to politically immature class (Zila Nazims) and an honest analysis reveals that police performance under the DC was better than local political cadre (Zila Nazims). Moreover, Police Order 2002 was a federal legislation made by military regime which lacks the consensus and consent of people’s representatives.

The above mentioned Police Acts provides three to five years fixed tenure but in many cases due to the political and some other intrusions continued to weakening the efficacy. It is cynicism in Pakistan that political leadership had always tried to breed like-minded officers in the civil bureaucracy. Those officers who are loyal to the soil had never given a reasonable tenure. On the contrary, in army there is a very strict system of tenure. It amplifies the working capabilities of the army cadre. But as far as the police working in Pakistan are concerned, the smooth policing have been bitterly affected by the premature postings. Resultantly, brevity of tenures ultimately left many cases unresolved. Hence, fixed tenure is quite important, if you do not have fixed tenure you are not able to plan yourself. If you cannot plan yourself, you cannot deliver, you do not deliver, you have the law and order problems, you have the crime problems and you have that situation. So, fixed tenure is quite important for maintaining the law and order in the country.

Stability or fixed tenure is considering internationally best practice for enabling police leadership to improve performance, for instance, the Police Commissioner of London Metropolitan Police has been fixed by law for five years. On the other hand, the Police Chief of the New York has fixed tenure of four years. In the context of the Pakistan, there is a broad consensus that the premature postings of police officers have bitterly affected to combat crimes in the country effectively. Generally speaking, policing nowadays is becoming an increasingly complex challenge because of the brevity of tenures in the services. Therefore, tenure should be fixed, government should not be allowed and their hands should be tied. In the Police Order 2002, a process has been put in place. Under this process, if you have to remove the Inspector General (IG) or other police officers then the police officers should have to be given the reason for his removal. He/ She has to be appearing before the National Public Safety Commission (NPSC). The NPSC after considering these explanation will take a decision his/her removal is justified or not and if say no then it is overruled the case.

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