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WORLD NEWS | Causes and consequences of police policing in Pakistan: Report

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Islamabad [Pakistan], May 15 (ANI): A common misconception about the Pakistani state is that it is a military organization, and the military makes all internal and external decisions that affect Pakistani citizens. According to the Afghan Diaspora Network, the Pakistan Police is a colonial-era organization that has for years conducted policing activities on behalf of the country’s political elite or covertly on behalf of the state.

In her recent online article, Professor Zoha Waseem, reported by the Afghan Diaspora Network, makes a strong case that police policing has been a key tool in Pakistan’s authoritarian and violent politics. She went on to say that Pakistan’s security state’s reliance on extrajudicial police violence serves to advance specific political and economic agendas. The conclusions drawn by Professor Wasim, assistant professor of criminology at the University of Warwick in the UK, are supported by multiple sources, including media reports, human rights records and police investigations.

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Statistics from several cities in Pakistan show police-led violence. According to data collected by Zoha Waseem in Karachi, more than 3,400 people were killed in police clashes between 2011 and 2022. Likewise, police have killed more than 600 people in confrontations between 2018 and 2022, according to official Punjab figures. As a result, the police killed an average of more than 100 people per year during the reporting period, according to the Afghan Diaspora Network.

According to the study, at least 217 people were killed at the hands of police, 194 of them in clashes across Pakistan. Based on these numbers, there will be an average of 27.16 reports of police violence per month in 2021. In the last year, 1 incident was reported per day, an average of 0.9 per day.

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December 2021 was the deadliest month with 22 encounters, 20 extrajudicial executions, custodial deaths and accidental deaths recorded. A total of 34 people died in December, 30 of whom were shot dead during the conflict, 3 died in custody and 1 died accidentally while participating in the conflict.

Pakistan’s police force has its roots in British colonial-era organisations. Zoha Waseem, author of Insecure Guardians, argues that the colonial logic of policing still governs law enforcement today. This makes it possible for the state to continue to rely on extrajudicial violence by the police. The police officer class is clearly separated from the lower ranks and images are clearly separated by the colonial framework of the police. Lower-level personnel are under institutional pressure to carry out their missions because their primary responsibility is to follow orders. Therefore, excessive use of force is inevitable, whether or not authorized by superiors in the police department. According to the Afghan Diaspora Network, this tactic is easier to employ when police operations are framed as part of responding to national security threats, leading to police acting as “workers of violence”.

On a more general level, it is easier for the state to justify police vigilance as “necessary” when it uses war tropes such as police being on the “front line” and waging a “war on terror.” This militarism and resulting violence is also fueled by a continued lack of confidence in Pakistan’s general criminal justice system.

State favoritism of selected police officers is another aspect that promotes police vigilance. Zoha Waseem informed that the case of Rao Anwar SSP in the 1990s is a persuasive example. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Karachi appears to be the greatest threat to national security and both civilian and military elites expect and reward the police for “fighting terror with terror.” However, Anwar (and later Choudhury Aslam ) are not the only police personnel to be used as pawns to achieve political goals, nor are Karachi or Sindh the only ones who have experienced this unofficial method of policing.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government in Punjab state used its control of the bureaucracy, especially the police, to influence the outcome of the 2013 elections, according to research by Lahore history professor Hassan Javid. According to the Afghan Diaspora Network, this was made possible by the “extensive sponsorship and patronage network” developed by PML-N.

However, the PML-N’s grip on the police doesn’t stop there. Similar incidents occurred in Punjab in the 1980s and 1990s, when police encounters first became common. From 1997 to 1999, encounters and killings escalated rapidly as they were militarized against PML-N adversaries.

This is partly due to the link between PML-N, crime and policing in Punjab. During this period, two notorious policemen – Naveed Saeed and Abed Boxer – became known as “encounter specialists”, both with close ties to the Punjab government. The Gogi Butt gang is known to have close ties to Saeed, who also killed gangster Hanifa Baba, who “just happened to oppose the PML-N government and its criminal allies”.

According to Javid, the link between political parties, criminal activity, and the police “must be understood in the context of how Pakistani governments have historically used their control of the police to check on their political opponents.” “Informal” operations, ie those involved in police vigilante activities are required to maintain a form of opposition to political opposition (ie opposition political party operatives, insurgent groups, dissidents, and even journalists), according to the Afghan Diaspora Network.

Zoha Waseem concludes that Pakistan is unlikely to abandon policing as a strategy as it fits with their view of governance. In many countries around the world, the police first and foremost carry out the “job” of the government. Political elites invent security risks and criminalize things and people as they see fit. Given this fact, there remains the risk of internal state policy being securitized. This policy also became entrenched due to the continued application of the logic of colonial policing.

For any government to even begin to seriously consider police reform in Pakistan, where police accountability and openness are the watchwords, the country’s current predicament is simply too dire.

It also means that, in most cases, police vigilance remains under-investigated. According to the Afghan Diaspora Network, Pakistan still has a long way to go. (Arnie)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)


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