Police highhandedness

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The Sindh police are at it again. Rather than protecting and facilitating people it is out to kill them and humiliate them. Their very uniform is enough to instill fear in the public. Their nomenclature might have taken the word ‘service’ but they still remain a force, a colonial relic that the British used to quell any riot, any dissent.

Four policemen at Karachi’s Sea View on Sunday resorted to manhandling a couple in full view of the public. The couple resisted and it was captured on a mobile camera. Not only did they ask for money but also pointed a gun at them as if they were dealing with a criminal. Taking action, the city’s top cop suspended the four officials involved and initiated an enquiry against them.

As per a media report, the initial investigation reveals that the four policemen worked as a gang to harass and extort couples. Two of the said policemen were deputed elsewhere and went to the Sea View abandoning their duty.

Admitting to the prevalence of such practice, a police official said earlier four personnel of the Police Qaumi Razakars force were arrested and later punished for extortion from couples at the Sea View. The practice is so prevalent that the Karachi police chief through a notification had to stop the policemen from harassing couples and asking them to produce the marriage certificate.

A senior official speaking on record said few policemen bring a bad name to the entire force, asking people to come forward and report such incidents.

The general image of the police ‘force’ among Pakistanis is that it is marked by corruption, human rights violations, arbitrary arrests, detention, torture, extrajudicial killings and harassment.

Criticism of the police is rampant not only because of the behaviour of low-rank police officers but also because of the apathy of those sitting at the helm yet doing nothing to reform the culture. For the last many years, the authorities have paid little attention to reforming the police system.

The PPP, being in the government for over a decade in the province needs to focus on reforming the police department that is in line with new realities. Cities such as Karachi need urban policing. The law enforcement agencies should act responsibly and not indulge in such acts that bring shame to the service.