Police brutality is not a new concept for Pakistanis. But it’s about time something is done about it.
People in Pakistan have always had a hard time trusting the police force. Particularly the lower-middle-class and lower classes. But with the majority of the population believing in the promise of a “Naya Pakistan”, police brutality has come under fire more than once in recent times. People who voted for change are now pressurizing government to put an end to the barbaric conduct of our police force.
The Pakistani police force has more than one problem. They are underpaid, understaffed, lack technological equipment to solve a crime, etc. To top it all, the weak judicial system, where cases against rich and powerful are dropped while poor people are persecuted without any evidence, adds to the unjust law enforcement system in Pakistan. Police have been known to beat people into confessions.
But the biggest problem is the attitude of Pakistani police officers. Instead of protecting citizens, they have a reputation for terrorizing innocent people.
As always, women, minorities, and needy are hit the worst. If a woman or a poor person decides to go to the police department they are met with unsupportive and at times derogatory or humiliating remarks and questions. The women who are raped, victims of domestic violence or cyber crimes are usually met with disdain and prying questions of male police officers. Similarly, the common people who do not have a powerful connection to call for a favor, are usually ignored and at times police officers even refuse to register their complaints.
The Pakistani police force has also been known to illegally arrest and murder poor citizens, in fake shoot-out to close cases. Thousands lounge in state prisons under false cases. Some police officers are even discovered to have private torture cells, where they make poor citizens of the country for their own twisted fun or to make them confess.
To top it all, untrained officers are allowed to roam around with weapons. More than one innocent civilian has been shot dead for a trivial thing by the police officers on duty. If something as small as not stopping a car at signal is enough for an officer to open fire at your vehicle, we seriously need to reform the police department.
Recommendations to End Police Brutality:
First off, the government needs to stop with political hirings and promotions. Even the current government has been known to remove and appoint officers on a high post on a whim. Officers should work their way to the top, and their hirings should be done on merit. Similarly, no minister should have the power to remove an honest officer without a thorough inquiry.
Officers should be vetted before they join the police force. They should properly be checked for any signs of psychological disorders and trained in conflict management rather than “shoot first ask questions later” technique.
Police officers should be trained in a courteous attitude and ethics to treat victims. Women should be entertained by women officers when it comes to sensitive issues such as rape and harassment, so they don’t feel uncomfortable with male officers asking the necessary questions.
Police officers need to be held accountable for their actions. While recently, the force has started suspending officers involved in misconduct, but the top tier always goes free. An example of this is Rao Anwar, the officer who kept a torture cell and shot Naqeebullah Mehsud under fake terrorism charges.
It is time we leave behind the old and corrupt ways, and create a much better and peaceful society. The purpose behind the police department is to make the citizens feel safe and protected, not to add to the list of problems an average Pakistani citizen feels on a daily basis.
There is a need for major changes in the police department, their training, officers, and mindsets. Heres to hoping the current government can pay attention to this matter the same way they have launched a movement to rid the country of corrupt politicians.
Read more about students protesting unwarranted arrests of their class-fellows here.