The police are expected to play a critical, if not the most important, role in creating a safe environment in any country. Pakistan’s Police have been very irresponsible towards their duty. It is not a secret that the people of Pakistan avoid encounters with Police and have very little trust on its very own Police. It is not an exaggeration to say in some areas of Pakistan people would rather deal with bandits than Police? Why is it though? Why could people not even sympathize with the force when they lost 11 innocent officers in riots of TLP 2021? Because the police who is supposed to ensure peace and maintain order are the one’s violating the rights of public the most.
On July 12, 2010, Allah Rakha’s son died before his eyes, shot dead by police. Neither side disputes that officers killed Shahbaz, 24, on that day. What they do disagree upon are the circumstances in which he died and the reasons that police fired that day. According to Allah Rahka, Shahbaz was unarmed and the police shot him in cold blood. The police say they were chasing criminal suspects and fired in self-defense after Shahbaz shot at them. More than six years later, Allah Rakha said he still waits for justice:
There are many other witnesses to his killing… Not only have the police killed my son, they have also sullied his name by making it seem as if he was a criminal. He was not a criminal
Pakistan Police has just displayed another very much expected display of police brutality. It is to wonder why the People of Pakistan still expect something different. Their actions include, raiding into houses without warrants, attacking people on the streets brutally, smashing cars of people not involved in the following riots and violating multiple women rights.
Moreover, Pakistani police also use their extensive powers of registration of cases, arrest, and detention at the behest of powerful societal elites (the wealthy, politicians, landowners, and civil and military bureaucracy) to bring false charges against perceived opponents as a form of intimidation or punishment. Many are arbitrarily arrested. Under Pakistan’s Criminal Procedure Code, police can arrest without a warrant anyone “reasonably suspected” of being involved in certain criminal activities or against whom a “reasonable complaint” or “credible information” exists. They can also arrest without a warrant someone “suspected of planning” certain offenses. Family members’ alleged police threatened to file bogus cases against them if they continued to report police brutality.
Public surveys and reports of government accountability and redress institutions show that the police are one of the most widely feared, complained against, and least trusted government institutions in Pakistan, lacking a clear system of accountability and plagued by corruption at the highest levels. District-level police are often under the control of powerful politicians, wealthy landowners, and other influential members of society. There are numerous reported cases of police extra-judicial killings of criminal suspects, torture of detainees to obtain confessions, and harassment as well as extortion of individuals who seek to files criminal cases, especially against members of the security forces.