Tag Archives: Policing

Pakistan : Rule of Law through Technology Oriented Policing

This is English Version of an analysis published on BBC URDU ONLINE SERVICE by the Author. 

According to prevalent thinking of security officials, deployment of maximum number of security officials is an indicator of quality of protection of persons and premises in urban spaces. Emphasis is on visible security measures to deter the assailants and saboteurs. There is another social dimension to this visibility because in our society presence of uniformed and armed personnel with a person is correlated with stature and power one holds in the higher echelons. Moreover, fact that there is need to respond any response to threats will still in human form, it is considered economical to rely on the traditional deployment of security officials for all purposes. In some cases, CCTV cameras are also used in addition to physical deployment but the response remains primarily through human resources with little value addition by technology.

There may be many other factors behind display of arms and armed guards but there is miniscule evidence that these measures unsupported by additional intelligence sources have helped in thwarting attacks on important personalities and on key locations. It is required, therefore, to think about shifting the focus from visible paraphernalia to invisible measures for ensuring security in urban settings.

In many big cities of the world like London, Glasgow, New York, Mexico, Nairobi, Dubai and Qatar, it is considered to replace human foot print on streets with digital eyes and ears through an integrated command and control system. It is not a conventional approach prevalent in most of the countries of the world as it calls for high investments as well as application of highly advanced technology to come up with a virtual security information collection mechanism. But if we think strategically, the future belongs to Technology Oriented Policing (TOP) paradigm.

This shift is due to fiver factors. First, increasing rate of urbanization and spatial extensions of cities making it difficult to monitor the public spaces through only human resources. Application of cameras and allied applications at vintage points not only broadens the field of view but also reduces the cost and risks of permanent presence of security officials in any place. Second, automation of surveillance mechanisms reduces variations of human application of law and takes out individual discretions out of the equation. Electronic devices installed on public places ensure certainty of a uniform action against all and sundry. For example issuance of e-challan tickets of traffic violations issued to every violator, regardless of his social status and nuisance in the society and size and brand of the vehicle! Third, early information available to law enforcement agent through integrated technological solution enables them to act in more safe and confidant manner against any potential threat. Every police officer and first responder is equipped with mobile applications on smart phones displaying details of vehicles and persons manifesting suspicious behaviour. Fourth, this invisible security mechanism is not completely run by machines. Smarter people use smart phones better. Police officers running the centralised integrated command, control and communication centres are not only more qualified but also imparted better training to handle complex situations in metropolitan cities. Quality of decision-making and resource allocation also improves by deputing senior and responsible decision makers in the centre rather on the ground for addressing the galleries only. Lastly, by improving the monitoring mechanism through electronic eyes and recording of all events in electronic gazetteers accountability of all police officers and public response increases many folds. Major beneficiary of this electronic evidence are investigators, prosecution departments and courts. It will help them in fixing the responsibility through face recognition capacity and giving a verdict which even defence lawyers cannot question. Thus TOP becomes decisive intervention in the justice sector and all urban population becomes beneficiary.

For cost benefit analysis, the initial high costs would be justified by four indicators, i.e. 1. Reduction in crimes, 2. Reduction in traffic casualties 3. Increase in revenue through zero tolerance on traffic violations and 4. Satisfaction of the public won through transparency, accountability and good governance in civilian security sector. Whereas first three can be measured by comparing results in short time frame but last and most important indicator cannot be ensured without committed response by the law enforcement agencies, in this case, Police.

This public trust is not easy to achieve due to many risks involved in implementing this paradigm of invisible security to develop safe cities in Pakistan. In developed countries civilian security apparatus is designed, mostly, in sync with requirements of urban development, population planning and economic growth framework but it is not happening here. Scarcity of resources, despite positive economic development evidenced by Forbs and Times remains a challenge. The biggest challenge, however, remains the police response to this advanced technology intervention e.g. in Islamabad and Lahore Safe Cities Projects. The way to do business changes dramatically and unless there is huge effort of change management it becomes an unbridgeable chasm. Equally important and in much bigger in scale, is cooperation of public. People are bosses and bosses do not like surprises! Preparing people for even better services require a well thought out strategy and action plan. Here comes role of Media and Courts. Media plays positive role by informing them about developments but also forms public opinion in favour of such fundamental changes which require modification of public behaviour on traffic signals and in law and order situations. Courts have to respond positively for admission of electronic evidence and bar councils are also partner to defend the cases on evidence rather than conventional oral accounts of witnesses, accused and complainants. If these stakeholders do not support the whole scheme of things then they may become spoilers.

Of course there is always a counter narrative and actors who can turn into spoilers if their concerns are not addressed or if they are not taken on board. Most evident question: why cities only? Will it not draw sharper lines between urban and rural areas? One should be mindful that TOP have limitations because it is an expensive solution and scaling it up is not envisaged even in developed cities like London. In some cases TOP is not as flexible and as intelligent as a human resource can be. Other key factor will be the way the system is being utilised. It will be defeating the purpose of invisible security if there are no active response teams of Police to nab the violators of laws or if lawyers tried to question the unquestionable electronic evidence or if courts did not convict the culprits due to other mitigating circumstances. Changing public behaviour and improving road safety are other determinants for positive outcome in country like Pakistan where such interventions are in the offing.

At the moment, there is strong political will to implement TOP in the form of Punjab Police Integrated Command, Control and Communication Centre (PPIC4) project Lahore. Punjab Safe Cities Authority is established to develop PPIC4s for at least five major cities i.e. Multan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi and Lahore. This is biggest intervention by the Chief Minister Punjab to change Police Culture not only in Punjab but also in Pakistan. TOP is the future of Punjab Police.

Media has the key role to shape the public opinion to support the positive steps but Media cannot change the reality on the ground. Real success depends upon a number of factors: phenomenal leadership both at operational and political level; meticulous implementation by Police as well as support extended by other public departments. Public response to this apocalyptic change is yet to be seen. There is a big question for public: are you ready to support this stride towards a change in Police Culture by following the rule of law through technology?

Akbar Nasir Khan : COO Punjab Safe Cities Authority (psca.gop.pk)


More Laws Less Order

Marcus Tullius Cicero more than two thousand years ago, said, “the more laws, the less justice”. Justice means much more than mere order in society. Order remains missing in everyday life of a common man in this land of the pure. Like other policies of the state, enforcement remains the Achill’s heel of the executives since 2002. Unfortunately, in National Action Plan, reforming the criminal justice system is given the least importance. Senior bureaucrats complain about absence of political will to implement National Action Plan. Changes in legal framework in the Punjab have yet to trickle down at enforcement level. Focus has been on making local and special laws to address misuse of loud speakers or graffiti and even this trend is not followed in other provinces with same zeal.

In FATA age old system is not delivering results and Karachi has temporarily come under control after investing huge resources in the form of Sindh Rangers to shield police from political interference in criminal justice administration. Major urban centres remain under threat of public commotion and prevention of once very ordinary street crimes, like one wheeling, are not tackled effectively. Senior bureaucrats complain about absence of political will to implement National Action Plan. Changes in legal framework in the Punjab have yet to trickle down at enforcement level. If removing graffiti by some sectarian organisations becomes threat to personal safety of law enforcement officers then what to say about preventing illegal road blocks and action against proscribed organisations aka armed militias? How can mere changes in legal frameworks, despite its importance, can yield results?

At least five police laws are operational in Pakistan in federal and provincial territories. In the wake of plethora of changes after the 18th Constitutional (Amendment) Act, 2010, Police Order 2002 (PO 2002) was replaced by the Police Act 1861 (PA 1861) in Sindh. Balochistan followed suit and enacted Balochistan Police Act 2011 which is just another version of Police Act of 1861. The Punjab was only to follow it in 2013 by making fundamental changes in Article 7, 18, 21 and repealing Article 184 which required approval of the Chief Executive, for any province level amendments. This has opened Pandora’s Box for all the provinces to make changes in the Police Laws. It is interesting to note that none of the provinces has made any meaningful changes in eighty years old Police Rules 1934 which deals with functioning of Police Stations and which has direct impact on “service delivery”. Without changing the management style of Police Station, it is not possible to expect any change in organisational culture of Police at ground level.

To top it, new laws are being passed by the legislature like The Fair Trial Act 2013 and The Protection of Pakistan Act 2014. Changes in role of prosecutors, evidence submission procedures and witness protection are brought in pieces without incorporating them in the Penal Code of Pakistan 1860, the Evidence Act 1984 and the prosecution laws of the provinces. Situation is more interesting in federally controlled areas like Islamabad and Gilgit-Baltistan because these areas remained as they were since 1947. Position of Police laws is also not different in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and what to talk about FATA where pundits do not want to bring any change at the cost of rights of people of FATA. Whose interests are served if not the people who want order in their lives through state institutions? International Crisis Group and many other local and international NGOs and experts demand replacing Frontier Crime Regulation of 1901 in FATA with Police Act 2002 and abolishing B areas of Balochistan where poorly trained levies are performing the role of law enforcement agency even in 21st century.

There are two views about legal position of Police Act and role of Federal Government and the Provincial Governments. Proponent of provincial autonomy claim that after the 18th Amendment, Policing is not mentioned in Federal Lists I or II and it is exclusively in the provincial domain to amend the Police Order 2002 or Police Act 1861. In addition Article 142 (b) also empowers the provincial governments to make changes in criminal law and criminal procedure i.e. Cr.P.C. 1898 and Pakistan Penal Code 1860. However, Police Act or Police order is not mentioned in this article specifically.

Advocates of a uniform Policing legal framework make a point that Policing was always a provincial subject in the constitutions of 1934, 1956, 1962 and 1973. However Police laws, just like a centralised and uniform judicial structure, were in the federal ambit to ensure uniformity across the country. Even in 1955 when changes in laws inherited from Indian Constitution of 1934 were brought by the then Governor General, Police Act remained within the scope of the federal government. This point of view is buttressed by the ruling given by the Chief Justice of Pakistan in Karachi law and order case when he declared that Police Order 2002 is a federal law and provinces cannot change it unilaterally.

Rule of law trough a professionally trained police service requires uniform standards of recruitment, training, investigation and prosecutions across the country. If present trend of creating provincial police laws continues there are less chances that interprovincial coordination will improve for exchange of prisoners or for transfer of cases from one province to other under a common legal framework. Uniformity of police laws, just like judicial framework, is pre-condition of an effective policing system in the country. Implementation of National Internal Security Policy is needed which states, “the police system of every province is functioning under different Police Acts but somewhat uniform judicial set up. A uniform and coordinated response needs uniformity in Police Laws and enforcement procedures”.

From international coordination perspective, it makes more sense to have a uniform Policing structure and legal framework in the country. It is hard to liaise with the international community through a variety of local laws and nuances of each law enacted in various federating units of the country. In countries where there are various local laws of counties or states, there is one umbrella law which makes it easy for the other states to coordinate and cooperate on issues of mutual legal assistance. A uniform legal framework of law enforcement was in vogue before and after enactment of PO 2002 and after trying variety of laws in post 18th Amendment scenario, it is pertinent to enforce PO 2002 across the country including FATA, GB, ICT and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Is political leadership, with the support of able bureaucrats and police commanders, capable to handle this challenge? Can National Action Plan succeed without implementation of robust uniform police laws and reforming criminal justice system?

Akbar Nasir Khan      (ank@post.harvard.edu)