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Pakistani police outpaced by criminal, terror networks: report

Maverick Report

ISLAMABAD: A report by the Asia Society Independent Commission on Pakistan Police Reform has found that Pakistan’s efforts to combat crime and counterterrorism activities are being outpaced by the innovation and agility of criminal networks and terrorist organisations.

Without comprehensive reform of the legal framework governing police action, the police force as an institution, Pakistan’s law-enforcement strategy, and interagency and international coordination, Pakistan’s progress toward political stability and economic security will be limited.

The report, titled ‘Stabilising Pakistan through Police Reform’, was launched through panel discussions on July 24 at Asia Society New York and July 25 in Washington DC at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in partnership with the Middle East Institute. Additional launch events have been held in Pakistan from July 27 to 31.

The report is the result of an unprecedented convening of law-enforcement and legal experts in Pakistan and the United States led by Asia Society Senior Advisor Hassan Abbas. Senator Aitzaz Ahsan is also a member of the independent commission on police reform.

In the report, Senator Aitzaz Ahsan writes: “Pakistani governments lack the political will to reform the country’s police force. The main reasons for this absence of will fall into three areas: societal, structural, and historical. The societal reality is that the measure of all power in Pakistan is the ability to abuse it. The structural reality is that the civil and military bureaucracy, including the police, is far more entrenched than its political masters, who, on occasion, get an opportunity to come into government but not into power.”

According to the report, the lack of resources, poor training, insufficient and outmoded equipment, and political manipulation pose difficulties to the police force as it works to maintain law and order. To be successful, reforms must aim to improve police technology, personnel, training and intelligence capability. A well-defined national counterterrorism strategy is essential to establish a clearer role for the police in overseeing internal security. Increased international support will be useful in the spheres of technical assistance, training and modern equipment.

The report explores aspects of reform that are crucial for jump-starting this process and highlights the obstacles that have derailed previous efforts. Contributors assess the current state of Pakistan’s police force and offer recommendations for enhancing the institutional capacity needed to check the growth of organised crime and effectively conduct critical counterterrorism operations throughout the country.

The members of the Independent Commission on Pakistan Police Reform include: Hassan Abbas (Project Director), senior adviser to Asia Society and professor at College of International Security Affairs at National Defence University; Iftikhar Ahmed, former inspector general of police of Islamabad; Aitzaz Ahsan, Member of Senate, former interior minister (1988-90) and former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association; Arif Ali Khan, former distinguished professor of homeland security and counterterrorism at National Defence University and former assistant secretary for policy development at the US Department of Homeland Security; Hasan Asad Alvi, chief security officer of the prime minister of Pakistan, Islamabad; Mohib Asad, former director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA); Brigadier Syed Shafqat Asghar, serving Pakistan Army officer and currently visiting faculty member at the College of International Security Affairs at the National Defence University; Andrew Carpenter, chief of the Strategic Policy and Development Section, Police Division, Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions, Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), United Nations; Zulfikar Hameed, assistant inspector general of police administration in Punjab; Syed Ejaz Hussain, deputy inspector general of police in Punjab; Tahira Khan, scholar of South Asian studies; Tariq Khosa, adviser on rule of law and criminal justice at the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and former inspector general of police in Balochistan; Roger B Myerson, Glen A Lloyd distinguished service professor of economics at the University of Chicago; Tariq Pervez, former director general of FIA and former chairman of National Counterterrorism Authority (NACTA); Amir Rana, director of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), Islamabad; Afzal Ali Shigri, former inspector general of police in Sindh; Shoaib Suddle, federal tax ombudsman of Pakistan and former inspector general of police in Sindh; Muhammad Tahir, former senior superintendent of police in Peshawar and currently Humphrey Fellow at the University of Minnesota; Sohail Habib Tajik, former senior superintendent of police in Rahim Yar Khan (Punjab); Sheikh Muhammad Umar, currently community affairs counsellor at the Pakistan Embassy and former senior superintendent of police in Sindh.

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