Being a cop in Pakistan is no joke
Being a policeman is a tough job in Pakistan. Police officers have for long been scorned by the society, viewed as part of an inefficient, ineffective and corrupt system. Some police officers have also been known to aid warring gangs in major metropolitan cities like Karachi and do more harm than good. It is not the most lucrative job to assume either.
Police officers earn meager salaries but are expected to honestly perform their duties without accepting any bribes or adopting other unfair means of income. However, recent killings and acts of violence have swung public sympathies in favor of the police force. Pakistan’s policemen battling terrorism are faced with an unprecedented threat. Largely untrained in counterterrorism operations, Pakistan police is up against Taleban and other local militant groups.
The enemy is determined and often resorts to suicide missions to cause civilian deaths, spread panic or expose claims by security agencies of ensuring foolproof security arrangements. While no region remains safe for the police officers on duty, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa province remains the most dangerous. Last year, more than 24 policemen in the province lost their lives in line of duty. Recently, local militants scored a major victory by assassinating Pakistan’s chief of counterterrorism operations in Karachi. The death of Chaudhry Aslam, one of Pakistan’s most decorated officers, has sown fear among ordinary citizens who are concerned about the hapless response by police after such violent attacks. The martyred officer had played a lead role in foiling several terror attacks and nabbed key members of terrorist networks in Karachi. While the government continues to applaud police for thwarting terrorist attacks across the country, it needs to make a sincere effort in ensuring that sacrifices of these brave men do not go in vain. The authorities must chalk out an anti-terrorism strategy and take a firm stance on whether peace negotiations will be pursued with the militants. A well-defined national security policy must clearly state the role to be played by police and then equip them with the necessary skills and resources to diligently perform their duties. To be fair, the police should only be responsible for supporting the military in counterinsurgency operations. The main responsibility of police lies in protecting civilian lives and property by maintaining law and order in the country.
The government also needs to strongly follow up on the cases of slain policemen by bringing the militants and criminals to justice. A weak response by the government has dampened morale of the police force, which often finds itself ill-equipped or heavily outnumbered in the face of threats. A demoralized police force would lack the will to put its life in danger to protect ordinary citizens. Political intervention in the working of police department is known to have hampered its performance. By removing the political clout and recruiting honest officers, the government can improve law and order situation in the country. It would also help in abolishing certain “no-go areas” within large metropolitan cities and restore the confidence of civilians in security agencies of Pakistan.