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Time to address systemic issues


Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s policy of transfers of officers without identifying and addressing the systemic problems is not a solution in itself. It is just delaying an issue or diverting attention from the real issues.
This practice does not resolve the issue. Rather it gets piled up leading towards a thorough collapse. Brushing matters under the carpet also promotes a culture of secrecy that is detrimental to democracy.
The Government of Punjab while being annoyed over failure to stop the march of the proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has shuffled the whole command of Lahore Police — CCPO, DIG Operations and Investigations, SSP Investigations and Operations and many DPOs, RPOs.
The transfers were made in haste. On the other hand, no measures to identify the systemic flaws that led to the brewing of the chaos to this level were made.
Lahore police have a strength of over 30,000 with specialized units like the Anti-Riot Force (ARF) at its disposal. It also has a designated wing: a security branch headed by an officer of a rank not less than that of a DIG (Grade 20). An additional IG rank officer (21) serves as City Police chief aided by three DIGs, six SSPs (grade 19 officers) and around 20 SPs.
Punjab Police have a whole wing, Special Branch responsible for intelligence gathering throughout the province.
Read Police to send more force to contain TLP
How did a few thousand workers of the proscribed TLP manage to swiftly move out of the provincial capital? Is this because of poor command or inefficiency of the officers or is it because the police lacked the capacity to stop such types of crowds or are there other underlying reasons?
The facts and truth must be brought forth. The taxpayers, the citizens of Pakistan, bear the expenditure of operations, infrastructure, etc., of this huge force.
They must know the truth.
Identifying the underlying causes may also help in reshaping Lahore Police’s ability to cope with the ensuing law and order situations.
This was not the first time that the Lahore Police were found to be utterly helpless in dealing with a law and order situation. It looks as if the Lahore Police were handicapped when a serious law and order situation arose. Even if the recent episode is blurred, their response has been even worse in the Model Town tragedy and PIC Hospital ransacking by the lawyers.
Lahore police had invested billions of rupees into building the Anti-Riot Force (ARF) after the Model Town tragedy.
Trainers from Turkey were engaged. The master trainers were also sent to Turkey. Modern equipment was acquired. The squad went through multiple dress rehearsals. These were flashed a lot on the media also.
It proved good for nothing.
The government’s oscillating policies in dealing with such law and order situation led towards the brewing of the chaos. The political elite would not give a clear-cut policy. When any mishandling happens, they are the first ones to distance themselves from the police.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2021.

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