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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid