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Reforming Pakistan’s police

Based on extensive interviews with current and retired police officers, this report analyses the existing system of policing in Pakistan. It seeks to identifiy flaws and proposes tangible ways of reform under the new civilian dispensation. It also attempts to examine police functioning and service conditions and assesses the force’s potential to maintain law and order, counter growing extremist violence and eliminate terrorist threats.

The authors assert that after decades of misuse and neglect, Pakistan’s police force is incapable of combating crime, upholding the law or protecting citizens and the state against militant violence. With an elected government taking over power after more than eight years of military rule, the paper claims that the importance of reforming this dysfunctional force has assumed new importance. The authors state that elected representatives will be held accountable if citizens continue to see the police, the public face of government, as brutal and corrupt. Whilst the research believes that if it is still used for political ends, the police force may well be damaged beyond repair, at great cost to the peace in Pakistan.

Key recommendations put forward include:

  • the government of Pakistan must give the police and their affiliated intelligence organisations primary responsibility for internal security and greater capacity to do the job
  • it must rebuild morale, reduce corruption and increase efficiency. One way to do this is removing corrupt, inefficient or politically biased officers from senior positions and positions of authority over the police
  • the government should also undertake to make the police more accountable. A number of measures are suggested such as setting up a parliamentary subcommittee on policing under the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on the Interior, and empowering the public safety commissions meaningfully by devising stringent enforcement mechanisms for police accountability
  • the International Community, particularly the U.S. and the European Union should increase security-related assistance to and strengthen counter-terrorism capabilities of the police and civilian security organisations.