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Attacks expose shortcomings of police department.

LAHORE, June 7 -- The twin attacks on the worship places of Ahmedis not only exposed the police department's negligence, but also got senior officials to admit that the department faces a serious shortage of equipment and lacks training.

It is still to be established as to who was responsible for the barbaric attacks on the Ahmedis.

After such a horrific incident, the police department has demanded bulletproof jackets and other equipment from the government, besides better training facilities for its personnel. During the last several months, the police department itself had to suffer at the hands of several terrorist attacks in the provincial metropolis, where many of its offices and buildings were targeted by the extremists. The attacks have exposed their extreme vulnerability as the police had to turn to other law enforcement agencies for help every time. Lack of state-of-the-art equipment was cited as an excuse at one point in time while lack of training was put forward as another excuse for the department's negligence and failure to perform its duty responsibly.

Such a poor state of affairs of the police department at present seems incomprehensible if one looks back at the amount of effort and thought put into improving the force's performance, dating back as far as the 19th century. In every era, under every type of government or ruler - whether it be the British Raj of the colonial times - the police department was at the centre of every ruler's attention. This can be reflected by the number of committees set up in every era, like the Select Committee of 1832, the Police Commission of 1860, the Police Commission of 1902, the Lumsden Committe of 1926, the Police Commission of 1961 under Justice JB Constantine, the Pakistan Police Commission of 1969 under Major General AO Mitha, the Police Station Inquiry Committee of 1976 under MAK Chaudhry, the Police Reforms Committee of 1976 under Rafi Raza, the Police Committee of 1976 under Aslam Hayat, the Police Reforms Implementation Committee of 1990 under MAK Chaudhry, the Punjab Government Committee of 2001 under Shahzad Hassan Pervaiz and the Focal Group on Police Reforms of 2000.

A century and a half later, it seems all those efforts were in vain. Corruption still runs deep in the police force and 'political favoritism' is deeply ingrained in the department's functioning. All high-ranking police officials are linked with different political parties and remain dependent on the political leaders' influence for securing their jobs.

Discontinuity: One major factor behind the police department's continuing failure is the fact that every succeeding government - intentionally or unintentionally - puts a stop to the previous government's plans and projects as soon as taking charge of office. Consequently, the reforms put in place or projects initiated by the outgoing government are never allowed to be implemented in full effect, which means the police department's state of affairs remain the same.

Growing presence: This 'inconsistency' in implementing reforms led to the worsening performance of the police force, which in turn led to the spread of crime at an alarming rate. One grave consequence of this has been the growing presence of terrorists in Southern Punjab. According to a statement issued on June 2, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that the Punjabi Taliban in South Punjab had become more dangerous and were planning large-scale attacks in the country. The interior minister went on to reveal that the Laskhar-e-Jhangvi had been involved in the Marriott Hotel bombing in Islamabad, the General Headquarters (GHQ) attack in Rawalpindi and the terror incidents in Lahore. Malik maintained that the Punjab government has been asked to take action against these suspected outfits.

The beginning of the current situation prevailing in South Punjab can be traced back to about three years ago. It was in 2007 when hardened militants started settling in the south of the province. At that time, following intelligence reports, the Punjab police hierarchy had planned a massive crackdown in the area in August 2007.

The Punjab police's think-tank at that time decided to eliminate all terrorists from the area under the cover of launching an 'anti-weapon campaign' ahead of the general elections. The homework for the operation had also been completed by curbing weapons' smuggling in the rural areas along Punjab's inter-provincial border.

At that time, the Punjab police also purchased a lot of equipment including 6,000 9 MM pistols, 2,320 UHF Walkie Talkies, explosive detectors and Signal Tracers. The Punjab Police Research and Analysis Department had submitted proposals during January 2007 and the inspector general of police had approved a major operation in southern Punjab in light of these proposals.

Interestingly, talking on the subject, Sardar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa - the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Punjab president at that time - had said, "During the last seven years (2000 to 2007), the Punjab police and Rangers have failed to combat hardened criminals and have been unable to conduct any operations against them until now. There are lot of criminal gangs settled along Punjab's inter-provincial border areas, which operate across the country, but take refuge in Southern Punjab or along its border with Sindh and Balochistan. These criminals manage to do so with the support of influential people, and in exchange they (criminals) help the influential achieve their political goals," he had said.

Materialise: And then, all the planning and all the preparation went up into thin air. All the talk about driving the terrorists out of Southern Punjab ceased to materialise. Everyone forgot everything; there was no surveillance, no monitoring and no operation. Many raised several questions but no one stepped forward to say 'why' and importantly 'who' stopped the operation? Who was above the government and above the law? We might never know what actually transpired, but many cannot help but think this might be the destiny of Pakistan and its citizens.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Daily Times. For more information on news feed please contact Sarabjit Jagirdar at

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Publication:Daily Times (Lahore, Pakistan)
Date:Jun 7, 2010
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