Police in Pakistan

By: Zeeshan Ahmed

On Jan 2, 2021, Osama Nadeem Satti, a 22-year-old boy in Islamabad was shot dead while returning home after dropping his friend at National University of Science and Technology (NUST) at 2 AM. According to the official statements of Islamabad Police, they suspected Osama, a Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA) graduate, to be a robber, merely because an informer had told cops that robbers were traveling in a white car, so instead of trying to finding out whether driver is a robber or an innocent citizen, the police started firing on Osama Satti’s white Suzuki after he failed to stop on police’s orders. The vehicle was later found to carry 22 bullets, six of them hit the victim himself, I am unable to paint a better picture than imagining poor Osama Satti stopping after finding out he can’t escape and brave cops firing at a standstill car in the center of the road. Later a news channel aired the news that a robber was encountered by the capital city police. This is not an incident but a repetition of events, in similar fashion, around January 2019, a family in Sahiwal was subject to same police brutality and four members of a single family named Mohammad Khalil, his wife Nabila, their 13-year-old daughter Areeba and their friend Zeeshan Javed, who was driving the car were killed by Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in a fake police encounter. Police claimed that the victims were kidnappers and in series of blantant lies they further claimed that the driver, Zeeshan, was indeed an ISIS operator. Police took another stance that cops were conducting an anti-terrorism operation and four deceased were killed by their own collaborators and remaining terrorists fleed. All six police officers of CTD were later acquitted by trial court, “The prosecution has failed to prove the case against the accused… while dispensing justice the court has to see the evidence available on record…,” trial judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta wrote in his verdict.

Another case happened in Karachi in August, 2018, where three police men near a parked police mobile opened fired at a motorbike, after suspecting that one of the riders was pulling out pistol from pocket, which turned out that they were pulling out just a harmless mobile phone, I think pulling out a mobile phone during riding a bike is also a crime?

I can’t write on Model Town Lahore case because much has been said and written about it but, I will not forget to mention Salahudin Ayubi of Gujranwala’s Kamonkay district who was a mentally unstable and susceptible patient of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder was beaten to death under custody by Rahim Yar Khan police after his video went viral breaking an ATM in Faisalabad, and in such a sensational country we are, we forgot him after a week of mourning as thousands of others killed and raped.

Article 9 of Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan reads “No person shall be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with law.”

Article 14 (2) reads “No person shall be subjected to torture for the purpose of extracting evidence.”

I would like to post another question on police affairs that police continue to resort to victim blaming, on 9th September 2020, a woman ran out of fuel on a motorway in Pakistan at 3 AM, she telephoned the motorway helpline but nobody came to her help, until she was helped, she had been gang raped by robbers in front of her children, the next day then CCPO Lahore Umar Sheikh gave statement that why the woman travelled at night on a lone and less crowded roadway? I want to remind him of Article 15 of Constitution of Pakistan which reads as follows “Every citizen shall have the right to remain in, and, subject to any reasonable restriction imposed by law in the public interest, enter and move freely throughout Pakistan and to reside and settle in any part thereof.” There is no mention of any time table for the citizens to travel and move freely and state is responsible for security of its citizens in it’s airspace, territorial waters and land mass because Constitution is applicable everywhere regardless of time, date or place, and police has the duty to protect life, honor and property of the every citizen.

According to Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), 3,345 people were killed in police encounters from January 2014 to May 2018. The deceased include 23 women and 12 minors subjected to police brutality, only 1,914 people of the total encounter victims had criminal record.

These all facts pose a serious question to the quality of police recruitment, training and operational capacities and culture. The purpose of this write up is to tell the quarters of power, who don’t get tired mentioning Scandinavian countries in every election campaign, A welfare state can’t stand be developed by blood-stained hands nor Police can be reformed merely by changing the Inspector-General, it is a deep-rooted problem and requires a complete overhauling of the police force, from advertising the jobs in police to their recruitment, training and the manner they operate. In Sweden, nobody is sent to perform duty of a cop with a gun to defend the law before teaching him exactly what law is. For a police officer in Sweden, it takes two-and-a half years of training to become a police officer where applicants must pass physical, psychological and legal exams, hold a driver’s license, and should be able to swim. In Norway, Police training is a bachelors degree of three years, where only a single year is reserved for physical training, rest of the course is designed to train police officers psychologically and legally.

In the end I just want to say that just 4 people are killed in Norway since 2002 by police. Just 7 people are killed by police in Finland since 2000. just a single person ever killed by police in Iceland and 3,345 were killed in Pakistan by Police in just 4 years, from January 2014 to May 2018.