Start funding the police the way the army is funded and you will see a change!

Published: June 19, 2016

The police are always compared to one of the strongest institutions of Pakistan: the Pakistan Army.

Corrupt, immoral, ill-mannered, undisciplined and mostly ‘chillar’– these words strike people’s minds while thinking of the civilian government’s prime law enforcement agency: the police. Even I had such an impression, although not as vile, of the police, owing to my encounters, interactions and dealings with the paramilitary force. But, after joining it, I have seen another side of the coin that remains hidden from the limelight of the masses’ eyes.

Each kind of image or character building, whether flaunting or humiliating, takes time to build. The successive years of deep politicisation, improper institutional training, out-dated infrastructure and above all, a lack of funds coupled with an inappropriate budget have fetched ignominy to this institution.

Constables do behave harshly, investigation officers do bag money from people, and some do demand ‘kharcha pani’ (expenditure) for rendered services, but they do not represent the entire force. There are tons of officers and subordinates who don’t completely mould into the popular definition of the police department.

How can a police station operate on 10 litres of daily fuel that it is allotted to them, especially when it has multiple villages under its watch, some that are many kilometres apart? Furthermore, how will the police produce criminals in court and collect evidence against them within such limited means?

How can a police officer with a moderate salary pursue any investigation diligently when he/she has to pay money from his/her own pocket for FIR copies, criminal’s medical certificates and other proceedings because they are inadequately funded by the government? These individuals collectively bargain the pathetic condition of the police department and not only does it solicit the miseries of corruption, it also fuels their harsh behaviour.

The police are always compared to one of the strongest institutions of Pakistan: the Pakistan Army. For me, the comparison is abjectly based on non-conformity. The army is bestowed with foreign military aid, the biggest share of the country’s annual defence budget and a firm ground on the country’s policymaking for decades.

We have witnessed how the country’s primary defence force of borders has transformed its image through public relations and mass appeasing in the media. How wonderfully it has turned the tables from being subjected to trial for years of flawed policies that cost the country a great deal of money and human resources, to the champions of war on terror. This legacy has been a part of the institutional image building since the separation of East Pakistan; this was the time when the army was deeply humiliated and renounced by the people for its role in secession of the eastern wing of the country. It led to the creation of the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) – a media wing of armed forces intended to bridge the gap between the public and the army, to siphon off the positive image of the army and concealing its faults.

In the 80s and 90s, the grim media campaign of the ISPR produced several television dramas that flaunted and glorified the army, while on the other hand termed the civil institutions as corrupt, immoral and unpatriotic. The hits include Alpha Bravo Charlie, Shahpar, Andhera Ujala etc. And this image building has not halted till date; every day we witness how communication via Twitter has glorified the current Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif as the sole saviour of this country.

The story doesn’t end here. The army, apart from its professional tasks runs businesses alone, as well as in partnerships with the private sector. Despite all the impairments of small budgets, funds and political pressures, the police continue to struggle hard in keeping up with serving the people, fighting criminals and laying their lives in the line of duty.

A recent incident that embodies the woes and shortcomings of the police is the Chotu gang operation. The small contingent of police that marched on to the riverine area was not even wearing bulletproof jackets. To make matters worse, their arms were less up to date than the dacoits. But still, they resorted towards their undoubtedly suicide mission.

On the other hand, the army brought gunship helicopters, heavy armoured vehicles, tanks and all the modern weaponry to fight the small gang of roughly 200 muggers and heisters. If the police had access to all these facilities, there wouldn’t have been any need for the army to come in. The police have the onus of maintaining law and order, win people’s confidence by rendering transparent and upright services with moral conduct.

The recent campaigns of revamping the police by provincial governments are laudable steps to rejuvenate the system and abolishing the loathed thanna (prison) culture. But all this will be of no use if governments do not allocate proper budgets and the police do not conform to the latest revamping campaigns. If this continues, the woes of this department will persist because the police have no access to foreign aid, nor does it have a public relations department for image building or a 111 brigade to get a say in policymaking.

Saleem Akram

Saleem Akram

The author is a public servant in the Punjab Government, a researcher and a music lover. He tweets @SaleemAkram1

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Omer

    on point !!! the reality !!…Recommend

  • Napier Mole

    Excellent portrayal of the other side. From the few and far encounters that I had with police, I got the same impression of massive under budget and the most expectation. Absolutely no comparison with the pampered armed forces certainly.Recommend

  • Baqar Ahsan

    First make it independent out of political claws.To bring real change in selection, training,discipline and honesty in discharge of dedicated duty then supervision of at least five years.Recommend

  • Pakistani

    i cant imagine Army polishing boots of politicians even if you stop funding them! the problem is not with funds… the problem is with rotten politicians who put and promote sycophants in police on quota.Recommend

  • Muhammad Danish Siddiqui

    I completely agree on the subject matter of funding Police as Army, I left Public Service of due to the low wages and these issues. I don’t discourage or recommend to curtail Army perks, but would like to share the performance and motivation they get through when they feel secure in the social net. Police has more powers in Civil law than Army.Recommend

  • Fiaz Khan

    You’ve missed a really important point. Do you think me and you are the only ones who know this? Doesn’t every politician know why the police is as it is? The reason why they are like this is because they are deliberately kept like that, in order to be used as a tool and means of maintaining an unjust status quo. The same principles applies throughout the whole governance structure. We need corruption in the civil services in order for politician to grab what they can when they are in power. So it is not a failed system. It is doing exactly what it supposed to do.Recommend

  • Ameer Hamza

    Merely stopping political interference and making police independent would to more good than just pouring more money Recommend

  • Pakistan

    It is NOT a paramilitary force. Its a law enforcing collection of men and women of the choice of the CM and party head in power in that province except KPK.Recommend

  • Orange

    Nuce article Recommend

  • imrancl

    I wish the public could understand the working of police and hold thier malice for the institution for few seconds. Ridiculing is very easy but listening to the ground realities is difficult. A police constable works for 12 hours shift. Is this anyway near to humane or labor laws? Compare a constable routine with that of a soldier in a unit if you want, although i dont think Police should be compared to army at all. Recommend

  • Sami

    I agree with the points raised by the author.Recommend

  • Sami

    Pakistan Army Officers has promoted the biggest sycophants during its Martial Law regimes. Kindly check out the history.Recommend

  • Hank Moody

    First of all i completely disagree with you with the theme of your topic….it should be something related to Army since you didn’t discuss what can be done but instead blow off your steam on Army…Atleast give some practical measures to improve …
    Secondly you need to learn a bit regarding the defense budget which is not the country’s biggest share in budget …. update your statistics ….
    Thirdly and the most important if we go as per your topic or we can say about Police then give measures to eradicate corruption … how to improve this force …. how to remove political influences from police … merit etc etc …Recommend

  • Mirza Aasauf Baig

    I disagree with you.Recommend

  • Aizaz Sadiq

    you joined the police? so the first thing you do is whine about your salary and blame it on the funding whereas you should first try upholding your oath as a protector of society. That has to be the most ignorant and careless thing to do. “Sorry I could not save that person because my salary is not enough and I need funding.” And sorry your justification for their behaviour seems just as absurd!Recommend

  • Parvez

    Depoliticizing the police is the only answer……..throwing money at them, at this stage, would be a waste.Recommend

  • Xeric

    I wish you have joined the Army instead. Primarily because of the poor knowledge you have about it.
    You say police/thana gets 10 lits of petrol daily? But you dont know that an Army unit’s standard issue of Administrative POL is 15 lits PER MONTH!

    Perhaps, you think the idea for establishing ISPR was sent through the Heavens on some extremely Holy and Sacred night, but the fact if the matter is that the Army itself read uts officer suggested the same to the hovt and got it approved. Same case for making it head by a Lt Gen now.

    Have you ever seen the vehicles and truck being used by the Army? Less the new Hino 5 Tons, none are younger than 1960s, but they still run. On the contrary do I need to indicate to you the graveyards of 2 to 3-year-old cars/jeeps filling Police backyards? Hoe is thay Army is able to maintain its inventory albeit being archaic but the Police can’t?

    I dont disagree with you. I understand that resources are meagre, but what matters is hiw you utilize them. Excess budget is even not available to the Americans!

    They only reason for Police’s downfall is lack of accountability.

    When was the last time a police wala was kicked out (not suspended) was stealing and selling a police vehicle’s new battery which he replaced with an old one?

    When was the last time that an SSP was served with a displeasure for having lots of audit objections? Did this lapse affect his promotion? No, I guess. Yeah, I have seen Lt Cols being ‘booked’ for such mistakes.

    When was the last time a DPO had visited his Thanas? Welfare visits, farewell visits, motivational visits, inspection? Heck, when was the last time he even left the city for a village?

    And then you point out the Army for the police’s failures?!Recommend

  • analytic

    The Caption is misleading, to say the least, because not a single concrete argument has been presented in its support. The main problem with the police is politicisation and lack of accountability, both contributing to a culture of outright corruption, inefficiency and cronyism, which no amount of the above suggested police ISPRing can counter. Yes funding does play a role, but it is not the primary cause, as stated by the article. Just as an example, do I need to remind about the recent scandals of billions of rupees in procurement in Sindh Police, money which should have been spent on equipment, went into the pockets of senior police officers. Were these senior officers also short of cash, that they needed billions for themselves.Recommend

  • Sarah Uzair

    Would our army honestly want to share their god-equivalent worshipped status with the police? They are the ones who have always been our ‘saviours’ *blegh*; just the way they like it.Recommend

  • Facho

    and who the heck has allowed him to write a controversial blog being a Govt employee, thats the difference b.w u my blogger frnd and the ppl serving in armyRecommend

  • Bilal

    It’s not about the money only… It’s about the rules,systems,merit and discipline… Which is totally missing in police.. ISPR can’t do anything if Army performs poorly…. If it is good…it is goodRecommend

  • Ozzy

    A stupid article to say the least. Lets break it down
    1. Army is protecting the borders. Police is not.
    2. No where in the world would such an article even go to the editors because of the flawed arguments and incoherent debates.
    3. Even if such an amount is released for police they will still not be able to properly utilise it like army because of the corruption and politicisation.
    4. Army is involved in almost all facets of pakistan. Be it natural disaster relief, foreign diplomacy, foriegn funds, internal policing, and fighting corruption through rangers forces. This is all on top of border protection. All of these tasks should have been handled by the government which is absent since long.

  • Sane

    Police is well funded by running the criminal gangs, kidnapping for ransom and many other crimes. They help themselves and require no more funding. They earn for themselves and for their political masters.

    You idea can work only when (all) criminals from Police are removed and police is made out of political clutches. A common citizen is more scared with police than ordinary criminal.Recommend

  • Ateeq ur Rahman soomro

    So what do you imply that we should owe more debt for army. Our country with this highly facilitated army is not a secure of peaceful state. If such weapons, funds and facilities can not bring peace how same things can help police to bring it. Our country need the news system not this outdated, floped system.Recommend

  • Fahim

    What is criteria to enter police ? Little brain with big heightsRecommend

  • Sikander Abbas Basra

    People just thinking about saleem akram with out thinking about what he want to explain… This is also ILLOGICAL…Recommend

  • Mian Faizan

    In china more budget is allocated to Police than that of Army. It shows that they consider the lives of their people as important as the sovereignty of their country. It shows that they count their internal problems as important as external.Recommend

  • Imran Ahmed

    These are two distinct and different services. The Police interacts with citizens, it maintains order, imposes law, investigates crime and defends the life and property of the weak from the strong. The Army should normally have no interaction with citizens as it is an armed force to defend our borders with zero jurisdiction over civilians. It may serve civilian agencies like Fire Brigade, Rescue or even Police but only when ordered to do so, as a subordinate of civilian administration. However, its main role is only to engage other armies at our borders.Recommend

  • Sufian

    Although I don’t agree with the author’s rant at the Army, I do agree with his view on the salary issue of the police. If you’re not going to provide someone with sufficient money, he would turn to unethical ways.

    Unethical ways include turning blind eye by taking bribe, not performing because of “pakki nokri” and being a pawn of these corrupt politicians.

    Of course we can not expect the Police department to become corruption-free just by doing this alone. The idea is to make it financially feasible and appealing for good guys to work in this department. Also, we could punish those who do corruption without anyone feeling sympathy for them.Recommend

  • Sufian

    Without accountability, even that would be insufficient. And this is something which we all see throughout the government sector.”pakki nokri “at its finest. Recommend

  • Sufian

    Finally someone agrees that salary is an issue for those who wish to stay away from bribes.Recommend

  • Ahmad

    Poorly.. I see, what exactly is the army doing good? Could you highlight? Except for the coverage by ISPR, Songs and anthems??

    What has changed on ground, if you can please highlight?Recommend