Police and Judicial reform in Pakistan is no Goliath

It is simple really.

No conspiracy against a country can succeed, if the country is not weak from within. Strong law enforcement can thwart any number of efforts on the part of individuals or militant groups to destabilize the country.

Rule of law in the civilian population is enforced by the police. Judgment is the business of the courts.

A few simple steps can make a tangible qualitative difference in both. A difference that a person on the street can feel.

The example of the motorway police is our starting point. When the government of Pakistan really wants to get something done it gets it done. It raised a new police force that is the standard of professionalism in the country. There is little debate, that motorway police is better educated, better trained and yes better paid than the police in the rest of the country.

For starters the same formula can be applied to the police force in selected cities of Pakistan. A two year pilot program can focus on district Rawalpindi.

Currently there are 6,381 police out of 4.2 million citizens in district Rawalpindi. Their total expense in 2007 was Rs1.4 billion out of which Rs119 million was non-salary expense. That means a salary expense of Rs17,000 per police officer per month for the entire district police. This number runs counter to the notion that police is grossly underpaid. However let’s say we wanted to double the salary of police personnel in the district, and have the people of district Rawalpindi pay for it, the additional expense would be about Rs28 per person per month.

A negligible price to pay for greatly enhanced law and order.

Now let’s look at their performance.

In 2008 15,348 cases were registered, out of which 1,662 were under investigation. Only 1,669 convictions were obtained in 2008 while 4,514 were acquitted.

The real sticking point is that about one tenth of cases registered were under investigation, the rest are lying dormant. It is obvious from these statistics that the scope for performance enhancement is quite extensive.

Rs28 per person per month would go a long way in solving this problem. And this is a problem worth solving, one district at a time.

The police force will be extremely amenable to reform if the reward a doubling of their salaries.

One can argue that for starters, we don’t need more police personnel, we just need the existing ones to be better educated, better trained, better motivated and better paid.

Once a problem is divided down to a manageable unit, the problem does not seem as daunting. Changing the behavior of 6,400 people is a very manageable task. In terms of a one man job this equal to that of the CEO of a medium sized organization or that of a Brigadier in the army. The money required is also a manageable sum and when divided into the population that will benefit from it, it turns out to be a negligible amount. In comparison, an average family can spend upto 400 times that amount on security guard and that safety does not extend beyond a few feet.

The same formula can be used to upgrade the police in the entire country, one district at a time.

A starting point is important.

Retrain the police force one district at a time, or one city at a time, bring the pay scales at par with the motorway police. Then take the same model to the courts. There are 54 judges on the Lahore High Court bench and they are responsible for all of Punjab which is about 70 million people. Increasing this number ten fold should not make a dent of any noticable nature in the treasury. It will however guarantee a more accessible and responsive justice system. Something, I suspect, the ruling elite of this country fear.

By: Kathay Kalame

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