By Iftikhar Ahmed Qazi
MULTAN, Feb 27 (APP): Policing has always been a tricky affair to manage in South Punjab — an area of varied topography and landscape inhabiting diverse population mix with more dwelling in rural areas.
Comprising three divisions including Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Bahawalpur, previously policing in the region was administrative control of Inspector General Police (IGP) Punjab.
However, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, honoring the demands of South Punjab people has established a separate police secretariat under Additional Inspector General of Police with more authority and liberty to resolve problems of people at home. The development was well received by the people as a first step towards materializing their dream of a separate South Punjab province.
Policing in any country, region or area means curbing the crimes and promoting sense of security among the masses. Safety and well being of its people had always been among top priorities of any government since ancient times. But, through the ages the concept was modified in view of emerging mode of communications and requirements of the day. In the modern world, experts believe that a devolved policing mechanism serve the people better.
“It is a good omen and would help promote better policing,” said Additional IGP South Punjab Capt (retd) Zafar Iqbal. “Having powers at this secretariat would improve police investigation, improve efficiency and promote police image.”
“South Punjab police office has been entrusted with supervisory and monitoring powers to transfer/posting of police officers up to BPS-18 and punish or reward personnel from constable to inspector level,” he said.
After coming into power, the PTI led government leaped forward with reforms agenda and establishment of civil and police secretariats in South Punjab to man law and order in its 11 districts housing 44% populace of Punjab.
“To ensure and fair investigations, we have introduced a special board for deputing honest investigating officers in agreement with the confronting parties. We have addressed 2700 complaints out of total 3000 during last one and half year,” Zafar Iqbal said.
“Many initiatives were taken during this period including the horse riding cops or mounted police to provide security to tourists, especially at Fort Qasim.”
He said despite operational difficulties, police countered dangerous “Laadi” dacoit gang, eliminating this symbol of fear in mountainous areas of Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur.
Moreover, he said, to improve law and order, especially in “Kacha areas”, two sub-divisions have been introduced in Bhong (Sadiqabad) and Sanawan (Kotaddu) that helped in effective monitoring and curbing crimes.
“Curbing crime in riverine (Katcha) areas was a big challenge and establishing police pickets in the area had brought down crime significantly,” Zafar Iqbal said. “I myself pay surprise visits to police stations to improve performance of cops.”
He said a new police training school has been set up in Dera Ghazi Khan in addition to one already working in Multan, to impart modern training to police personnel.
To overcome corruption and proper funding, the government has promised direct funding to police stations that would help resolve many issues. Moreover, an internal accountability department under supervision of additional IG Punjab was also working to check corruption.
“A project for establishment of a forensic science laboratory in Multan has been finalized that would help expedite investigation process during days ahead,” he informed. “We need such labs at every division level across Punjab.”
The Additional IGP revealed that under Multan Safe City project 100 cameras had been installed so far and linked to police control room. “We are also planning to link private CCTV cameras, installed at shops and houses, with main police control room to ensure round the clock monitoring.”
Since, South Punjab secretariat is also imparting information technology skills to train cops in latest investigation techniques, presently IT trained staff has been deputed at front desk to evaluate FIRs and ensure their earliest possible registration.
“Separate secretariat is benefiting in a big way showing improvement in service delivery for the people in South Punjab,” remarked Punjab Parliamentary Secretary on Information and Culture, Muhammad Nadeem Qureshi. “People who had to travel to Lahore for change of investigations or other related matters, can now get their issues resolved at this Secretariat.”
Nadeem said, it is equally beneficial for the people, administration and even the parliamentarians. “There was a time when people had to stay at Lahore for days to meet the provincial police chief. But, now their problems are resolved at this secretariat without much hassle.”
Like common people, this initiative has also benefited the lawyers community as Acting Vice President, Multan High Court Bar Association, Shahzad Jafri appreciates improving law and order situation.
“Police infrastructure in South Punjab witnessed progress in policing and law and order with establishment of more police stations,” Jafri said. “It has reduced crime rate in target areas. However, we need to further promote modern policing for masses safety and better life.”
Muhammad Tariq Ismail, another legal practitioner from Vehari termed the new police set up as a step forward for mitigating masses hardships.
“But, still we need to bridge the gap between police and citizens on top priority to make them feel a sense of security and safety,” Tariq said. “Once it happens it will propel a new era of community policing and a better partnership against crimes.
Masses believe that this journey to have better policing should be a continuous process to keep benefiting the people from the initiative awaited since decades.