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CONCEPTUAL CHALLENGES OF LAW AND ORDER IN PAKISTAN I

The latest book entitled ‘Lee Kuan Yew’, based on the interviews with the legendary Singapore leader, Lee Kuan Yew, is being widely acclaimed the world over.

In this book, Lee Kuan Yew expresses his views about the law and order in Pakistan in the chapter ‘On Islamic Extremism’ in the following words:

‘We should learn to live with the Pakistan terror nexus for a long time. My fear is Pakistan may get worse.’

If his words are any measure of reality, it will be quite difficult to disagree with him given the present state of affairs in Pakistan.

Delineating the law and order challenges confronting the present-day Pakistan is not an easy task as it has its share of definitional, administrative, functional, geographical and sector-specific dimensions. On the definitional side, there is no clear-cut definition of law and order. The term is loosely applied to anything that is related to criminal justice and to security of any part of the country. On administrative side, the budgetary allocations are made under the omnibus term of ‘law and order’; likewise, the administrative division of work is that law and order is treated as a provincial subject. The geographic topology of the law and order of Pakistan is very interesting as it offers provinces, FATA, PATA, police and non-police areas, and sui generis areas as its subjects with federal, provincial and concurrent jurisdiction. The sector-specific dimension of law and order invites in the plethora of issues associated with civil-military relationship as some aspects are dealt with by military exclusively, while other aspects are left to police and non-police agencies with superimposed superintendence by the bureaucracy. The extant concept of law and order in Pakistan also begs differentiation from the phenomenon of terrorism which calls for not-normal response, while law and order is all about normalcy.

An inward analysis of the governance structures in Pakistan being mindful of the aforesaid nuances reveals that following three chief conceptual challenges befall the governments (federal and provincial) of Pakistan:

First and foremost is the civil-military relationship. It affects the very anatomy of the challenges of law and order. Defining a challenge of law and order is the exclusive domain of military establishment. For example, the policy on Afghan refugees in Pakistan may appear a simple issue of foreign and security policy, but a deeper analysis reveals that far too many Afghans are involved in many of the crimes from gun running to kidnapping for ransom, therefore, a policy on Afghan refugees changes the chemistry of a law and order challenge. The civil-military relationship has deeper impact as it also affects the federal and provincial working, which is more or less asymmetrical. The provinces have been entrusted with law and order domain; however, the federal government and military have all the wherewithal of technical and real-time intelligence.

Secondly, the empowerment of primary law enforcement agency (i.e. Police) is no small challenge given the level of mistrust on the agency and its poor image in the public. Within the dominion of empowerment, the following issues are worth mentioning:

 The provinces have been entrusted with law and order domain; however, the federal government and military have all the wherewithal of technical and real-time intelligence.
1. The law related to Police needs absolute clarity as far as its legislative position is concerned. Though many reform-minded police officers repel any suggestion regarding the legal position of the Police Order, the fact is that in Sindh and Balochistan, the Police Act of 1861 has been reenacted. Police Order 2002, though applied in Punjab and KPK, it never functioned in Islamabad Capital Territory. The absence of uniform law on police ensues in uneven, fragmented and diluted Police organizations.2. The police organizations in Pakistan are modelled on ‘manpower-model’, which is absolutely outdated given the present security environment. This model has political dividends and is financially burdensome on an already faltering economy. There is a strong case to add a component of technology in the police organization. This can be done in two ways: one is to train the police officers in modern gadgetry and empower them to use it; second is the format followed in Metropolitan Police Service in London, where specially-trained civilians form the technical corps of the police. The technology component can only be added with proper backing of the law to treat the evidence collected as admissible; otherwise the whole exercise will be counterproductive in terms of cost and will augment the experimentation failure track of police improvement in Pakistan.

3. The functional fragmentation of Police also needs to be addressed. In the name of poor image and lack of trustworthiness, many a segment in bureaucracy has usurped the functions of police. For example, arms licences are issued by the DCO office, whereas curbing its illegal use is with the police. It means the Police department is held responsible without authority and it manifests that the principle of administration that ‘no responsibility without authority’ is most flouted in the case of police. Likewise, the licences to security companies are issued by Home Department in a province, and by Interior Ministry at the federal level, but the onus of supervising them is with the Police. Another example is the presence of Sindh Rangers in Karachi where it is difficult to hold any one agency responsible for the deteriorating law and order.This dichotomy has led to multiple and loose controls on the delinquent entities. The functional fragmentation cannot yield results as is evident by the failure of A and B areas policing in Balochistan also. This makes the point that there should be a single authority fully empowered and responsible.

Thirdly, the synergy amongst components of criminal justice system has to be achieved. The point of departure in this regard is that all the organs of criminal justice system must move in one direction with judiciary to lead the move. Though executive and judiciary must remain separate in terms of Article 175 of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, it does not mean that they should exclude each other. Mutual exclusion has always led to blame game; coordinated and targeted synchronization can lead to synergy.

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