Inspector General Police – Sindh, A.D. Khowaja, while highlighting some of his targets for the next three months, informed that his first and foremost objective was to depoliticize police department and promote merit. Hence, in order to attain this particular objective, police officers will now be recruited purely on the basis of merit with the assistance from the army and only after successfully qualifying in NTS examination. Speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) on Monday, IG Sindh added, “Police simply cannot stand on its feet unless it is completely depoliticized”.
Chairman Businessmen Group & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, Vice Chairman BMG & Former President KCCI Haroon Farooki, President KCCI Younus Muhammad Bashir, Senior Vice President KCCI Zia Ahmed Khan, Former President KCCI AQ Khalil, Chairman Special Committee for Small Traders Majeed Memon, Chief of Police Chamber Liaison Committee Hafeez Aziz, Managing Committee members and scores of small traders were present on the occasion.
IG Sindh further informed that the police helpline 15, which is currently weak, will be completely revamped and a state of the art response facility will be introduced whereas all broken and malfunctioned cameras across the city will be made operational during the next three months. He said that the Sindh Government was currently considering upgrading surveillance cameras with greater mega pixel cameras but that can take up to a year however, efforts will be made to restore the existing cameras within the next three months. A.D. Khowaja advised the business community to come forward and help the police department by installing cameras in their respective markets and also hire private security guards to supplement the efforts being made by police department to maintain peace.
Referring to the demand made by business community pertaining to enhancing the number of police officers, he admitted that the number of police officers was very low for maintaining peace of a city with a massive population of 25 million which keeps on growing day by day. “At least 20,000 more police officers were needed to effectively maintain peace in Karachi but in order to provide immediate relief, a proposal has been sent to Sindh government for urgent recruitment of at least 10,000 officers for Karachi only”, he added.
IG Sindh further informed that only 2200 traffic police officers were responsible for controlling the massive traffic of entire Karachi which is the basic reason behind the messy traffic and constants jams in different parts of the city. However, the situation will definitely improve now as 4,700 traffic officers have been recruited, who upon completion of their training in the next 6 to 8 months, will be on the streets of Karachi to control traffic flow situation which would yield positive results.
He further asked Karachi Chamber to advocate his proposal pertaining to replacing of the obsolete Police Act 1861 with a new version which would definitely help in improving many issues being faced in effectively policing the city. “The Police Act 1861 has weakened and collapsed so there is a need to devise a new system and laws for dealing with advanced crimes”, he opined.
Referring to arrests and release of criminals due to lack of evidences and failure of witnesses to appear, he said that police department has made total arrests of 80,000 criminal elements in between 2013 to 2016 but many criminals were released within a couple of months as witnesses fail to appear in the courts for identifying them which was reason behind rampant street crimes. He urged the public to come forward and fearlessly identify these criminals which will surely result in improving the situation as upon identification, such elements would stay behind bars for a period of at least four year or may be more.
Touching upon the issue of self-defense, IG Sindh informed that Section 59 of CrPC and Section 100 and 101 of PPC give full right of defense to citizens who can use their licensed arms if they face any security issue or suffer due to any criminal activity but that does not mean that people start using their licensed arms to deal with their personal enmity or make unnecessary showoff of these arms which will not be accepted.
Speaking on the occasion, Chairman Businessmen Group & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli assured that the Karachi Chamber will surely support IG Sindh’s proposal to replace the obsolete Police Act 1861 which is the basic reason behind all policing issues. Police Act 1861 was replaced with Police Act 2002 but, unfortunately, the same old 1861 Act was once again reinstated, he noted and stressed that the Police Act 2002 should be implemented at once with some amendments which would yield positive results.
Siraj Teli, while referring to Karachi Operation initiated in 2013, said that the operation, being jointly conducted by Pakistan Rangers and Sindh Police, has definitely resulted in improving the law and order scenario as today’s Karachi is much better to what it was some three years ago. “But at the same time, I firmly believe that there is still lot more to be done and this operation must continue at least for a period of next three to four years or may be more”, he added.
He was of the view that Karachi Operation must not be stopped till such time when the capacity building of police department reaches a certain level i.e. at par with Rangers so that they could easily take control of security situation. The level of working, intelligence, weaponry and every other aspect including qualifications must be at par with Rangers only then the Karachi Operation can be suspended. “If Karachi Operation is suspended now without the capacity building of police, it will result in running the situation and all achievements of last three years will be wasted within a couple of months.
Siraj Teli said that although the constitution allows citizens to exercise their right to defend and the right to arrest but people are usually scared to using these rights due to bad perception about police which has to be changed. To raise awareness amongst the masses about these rights, he requested the IG to provide pamphlets and advertisement to KCCI so that they could get them published in newspapers and distributed amongst the masses with a view to help them better understand about how to use their rights. “This is a deterrent and deterrent is more important than ground reality”, he said, adding that if an impression was created that every citizen may be armed and he or she may use their right to defend, it would substantially reduce street crimes.
On the occasion, BMG Chairman also urged the government to give arms licenses to the members of the business community who are being recommended by Karachi so that they could defend their lives and property. He also underscored the need for paving a speedy way to effectively deal with depoliticizing of police and recruitment purely on the basis of merit. Commenting on massive violation of traffic rules, Siraj Teli said that the traffic police officers and the public were equally responsible for the mess. But, traffic police officers must intercept the traffic rules violators and at least issue them a warning which, if done, would substantially improve the situation.
Earlier, while welcoming the IG-Sindh, President KCCI Younus Muhammad Bashir appreciated the role played by police department in Karachi Operation which has resulted in improving the situation as people find themselves safer now and it has been observed that many people, who went abroad, have started to return back due to the improved situation of law and order. He was of the view that the security of Karachi, which is a city-state of an estimated 24 million people, will continue to be a massive challenge. Although many severe law and order issues have been addressed during the last three years but the menace of street crimes continues to be a very serious problem.
Underscoring the need to introduce reforms in police department, Younus Bashir said that corrections must be made which can only be made through training of qualified officers who must be recruited purely on merit. President KCCI stated that Rangers will ultimately correct matters regarding law & order and will hand over the same to the Police; therefore it is imperative that the Police must be depoliticized and corrected in order to have sustainable peace and harmony in the city. “Let us hope that our soil be freed from the terrorism and there be no more bloodshed in the days to come”, he concluded.