I had a chance to address the senior officers of Police Service of Pakistan in the seminar arranged by National Police Bureau. As a retired police officer I had noted the absence of an organized institutional arrangement for the welfare of the families of the police officers who had laid down their lives in line of duty of or had been injured I used this opportunity to raise this issue in my address. It is disappointing that despite thousands of causalities police leadership have yet to create a functional institutional arrangement to look after the suffering families of the Shaheeds and the injured. I hope that the officers who were present in the seminar will take some action to address this most important matter that has a direct impact on the morale of the force that they command.
Afzal Ali Shigri
Address in opening session of
National Police Executive Seminar held on 19th October, 2015 by National Police Bureau
in collaboration with ICITAP Pakistan
My dear Bother Officers distinguished guests:
Let me begin by expressing my immense pleasure at the opportunity to participate in this prestigious forum. I consider it to be a great honour and privilege to be called upon to address and to participate in this conference for the senior executives of the Police.
Indeed, today’s conference serves as a delightful occasion for me to be once again sharing a platform with my ‘brother in arms’, in order to highlight key challenges facing today’s police force and to explore possible solutions to these conundrums.
In attempting to discuss the challenges confronting the contemporary police force, we must be mindful of the fact that today’s police force is not a force operating in times of peace. Rather, it is an embattled one, fighting against an amorphous, and at times, invisible enemy, constrained by political interests and held back by a lack of resources. The people are looking up to you to restore peace and make Pakistan safe. We can only do it if we can win the trust of the men that we command. Police in Pakistan despite its negative image is in reality a fine force that has repeatedly proved to be a dependable body of men who have ultimately maintained order in the society. The key to success is with its leadership and I have the honour to be speaking to them in this conference.
The police force now numbers about 400,000 personnel, and every day, these brave men and women lock eyes with death, as they skirmish with terrorists, carry out dangerous door-to-door searches, raid terror cells and protect key installations and the public alike from the rabid threat of terror attacks. Countless police officers and men have embraced martyrdom in this endless battle or sustained life-altering injuries. Their families now languish in obscurity, largely neglected by the force, in the service of which these officers and men sacrificed their lives.
Let me share with you some of the cases that came to my notice where this apathy was visible. In one case a young policeman lost his life in confronting a rowdy crowd and the committee set up to examine his compensation case in its collective wisdom declared that he could not be declared a shaheed depriving his five year daughter and three years old son and a young wife from the special compensation package for the shaheeds. I had to seek the intervention of the IGP. In another case an ASI was dismissed on the specific orders of a superior for alleged recording the recovery of narcotics less than the actual recovery. Later on it transpired that the complaint lodged through electronic means was false and initiated by the terrorists who were smuggling the drug. Tragically the officer was also killed by them in his home town. Yet in another case reportedly gallantry award was not recommended to an officer who was seriously injured in stopping a suicide attack. The reason sighted was inadequate security arrangement by him. Yet in a very well known case a number of police officers charged under anti terrorism law continue to suffer for years while stopping a torch bearing lawyers protest procession. Police as an institution failed to protect them from the wrath of the lawyers and indifference of the courts.
It is a great pity that despite great losses, the police service has neglected to create a solid structure for the welfare of officers and men, especially those who have paid the ultimate price in the service of their country. At a time when their morale needs to be the strongest and when faith in the ability of their service to take care of their dependents has to be vindicated, the police service has done little to merit the sacrifice of its officers and men. It is also critical that those who take the initiative and confront the criminals are also fully protected from malicious and false allegations and in case of law suits the institution provides the best defense lawyers in the never ending litigation.
It is my considered belief that if we want to win the battle against the terrorists and radicals, we must create an exemplary support network, structure for welfare and relevant provisions for our personnel, so that when they face the enemy in the battleground, they do so in the assurance, rather than vain hope, that their families will be looked after and provided for, in the event of their martyrdom. They also expect to be protected against any prosecution for their acts in good faith in line of duty and not abandoned just because of a media report that someone in power has taken note of. That is what the men demand of the commander and in return give loyalty.
I must end by thanking Mr Inam Ghani the Director General, Mr. Kaleem Imam Director and Mr. Miller head of the ICITAP in Pakistan for having the foresight to arrange this forum so that we may set into motion changes, which will address the core challenges besetting today’s police force. I hope that today’s conference will one day be remembered as the symbolic and practical turning point in the efforts to strengthen the morale and resolve of police officers and men, so that the police force gains a reputation for ‘taking care of its own’.