News / Asia

Strong Pakistani Police Cited as Key to Stability

Pakistani police officers stand guard at the office of local electrical company attacked by angry protesters to condemn  electricity shortages in Lahore, March 2012. Pakistani police officers stand guard at the office of local electrical company attacked by angry protesters to condemn electricity shortages in Lahore, March 2012.
x
Pakistani police officers stand guard at the office of local electrical company attacked by angry protesters to condemn  electricity shortages in Lahore, March 2012.
Pakistani police officers stand guard at the office of local electrical company attacked by angry protesters to condemn electricity shortages in Lahore, March 2012.
Ira MellmanMatthew Hilburn
Pakistan’s fight against internal terrorism will be significantly bolstered by improving basic policing efforts throughout the country, according to a new study by the Asia Society.

The report officially released Tuesday cites Pakistan’s high crime rate, low conviction rates and concerns of instability spilling over from neighboring Afghanistan as “urgent” and “critical” reasons to invest and reform Pakistan’s law enforcement infrastructure.

Hassan Abbas, the report’s lead researcher and a professor of International Security Studies at the Washington-based National Defense University's College of International Security Affairs, says for the past 10 years, Pakistan has seen terrorism as a problem best solved through military means. But that needs to change, he says.

“In our viewpoint, there has to be a focus on law enforcement because [it is] is directly linked to rule of law, and rule of law is linked to a representational system of government or democracy,” said Abbas, a former Pakistani government official who served in the administrations of President Pervez Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto, the late prime minister.

“Our point of view is [that] to challenge terrorism, to tackle militancy and insurgency, it is the law enforcement model…which needs help,” he said. 

Abbas’ views were echoed by Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States.

"The building of police capacity is essential to degrading terrorist resources, and to protect citizens in a rule of law framework,” she wrote in an emailed statement. “As Pakistan transitions to democracy with the first civilian government completing its term, such discussions will spur change."

Rehman says given the level of emergent threats at multiple levels, "addressing police reform and flagging its centrality to the assertion of state writ is key." 

"Police service delivery is linked to core state functions of governance and policy, and Pakistan is headed towards taking some serious measures in order to face complex security challenges," she added.

The report, Stabilizing Pakistan through Police Reform, is the culmination of extensive interviews with police officials, security analysts and legal experts throughout Pakistan and the United States. It offers several recommendations to fortify Pakistan’s domestic police force, which Abbas said is largely seen as ineffective, corrupt and inefficient.

Those recommendations include increased training, better equipment, higher salaries and better oversight.

Specifically, Abbas says Pakistan would benefit greatly from the establishment of a witness protection program, which would encourage people to come forward with tips, and the creation of something like the U.S. Secret Service because, he says, Pakistan’s police force spends a disproportionate amount of time protecting officials rather than fighting crime.

“Within Pakistan, policing and law enforcement was never prioritized,” said Abbas. “And though Pakistan had gone through so many series and phases of instability, insurgency and violence in various parts of the country, it seems it would be common sense for the country’s leaders, political as well as military, to invest in law enforcement, but it has not happened.”

According to the report, Pakistan needs to clarify the role of police in maintaining internal security. Citing the 2009 National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), as a promising step, the report says “the agency failed to take off as a result of political bickering over control.”

Furthermore, the report says anti-terrorism laws have “failed to give law enforcement agencies and civil law institutions the power to handle cases effectively.”

Building trust with ordinary people is also vital, says Abbas.

“Trust cannot be won through strong military actions type of things," he added. "It has to be done in a stable fashion where people think police are part of a larger, effective criminal justice system where people are getting justice.”

While the challenges are many, Abbas says they can be overcome.

He cited Pakistan’s National Highway and Motorway Police, which he says is known among Pakistanis for being competent and having high integrity.

“If [Pakistan] can develop one institution on these progressive, positive lines, why not others?” Abbas asked.

The report also recommends Pakistan look abroad for policing models it might be able to emulate. Abbas suggested Indonesia and Turkey are two of the most relevant largely because they have recently made strides in professionalizing and democratizing their police forces.

He says Indonesia has done a good job developing counterterrorism centers and Turkey invested heavily in training, going so far as to send police officers to the United States and the U.K. to learn law enforcement techniques.

Also, the report says there is huge untapped potential from among Pakistani police and military officers serving in United Nations peacekeeping operations around the world. The Ministry of of Interior, the report says, “has no mechanism in place to utilize the services of returning officers in a way that benefits the police.”

Pakistan is the number one contributor in the world to U.N. peacekeeping missions, with some 9,366 serving as of June 2012, according to the U.N.

Abbas says that in order for Pakistan to strengthen its police force, money must be reallocated from the military to law enforcement, and that foreign countries like the United States and Europe should do the same with their aid to Pakistan.

“For winning hearts and minds, from purely the American perspective, you need to do something for ordinary people on the street," he said. "Ordinary people want security because that is the best way for them to get more economic opportunities. We’re saying stop looking at Pakistan only from the lens of counterterrorism start thinking of doing things for the ordinary people.”

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Police Chief David Couper from: USA
July 25, 2012 1:00 PM
I agree. But what are we proposing they teach their police? I hope it is not what we are teaching in our country, nor in Iraq or Afghanistan. Instead, I would hope we all raise the bar and set a high standard for those who police a democracy. For more on this and some insights and direction, see my new book and visit my blog, “Arrested Development: A Veteran Police Chief Sounds Off About Protest, Racism, Corruption and the Seven Steps Necessary to Improve Our Nation’s Police.” My blog is at http://improvingpolice.wordpress.com/ where I discuss these and other current police improvement issues. Good luck and may we all experience great policing!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid