Mian Saifur Rehman
A cop can never be a soldier, thus goes a superstition. But after having gone through a PML (N) lawyers' press release, retrieved from hundreds of our newspaper's unused mail, I have started disbelieving this superstition. And to make my belief yet firmer in this new discovery of mine, I have come across a report by a one-time super cop of Sindh which deals with a strange subject.
The subject is Humanizing or De-brutalizing the Police. What a subject! But why I've preferred to describe it as strange? Because no one is willing to believe that our cops can ever think of 'exorcising' their own department of the evil of high-handedness that makes the cops superior over all others (barring the eternally mighty ones). Likewise, no one from amongst the followers of our ever-charismatic President, Asif Ali Zardari is ready to believe that the architect of this humanizing report is none other than former IG Police Sindh, Rana Maqbool Ahmad, whom they have been teasing with epithets like master of tongue-cutting technology. No way, says the report.
If a cop knows- and performs- his duties properly, no need to pick (read abduct) persons in the dark of the night. There won't be resentments- and gang wars- any more. Similarly, no armed or violent backlashes and no 'missing persons'. Obviously, when the inner pique is gone and when people and their law-enforces stop being pitted against one another, social peace and tranquility has to prevail. Shouldn't then this recipe be given a try, first and foremost, in the violence-ridden Karachi particularly because the architect of 'humane police' has himself been holding the fort in Sindh. His critics say that the peace during his days owed to peaceful conditions of those times. Not that way.
The reality is that peace at that time did not prevail automatically. Instead, measures were taken to keep the warring factions at peace. The gruesome target killings that we witness today every now and then, was at its lowest ebb. According to Advocate Ghulam Mustafa, a legal practitioner of standing, the total number of people killed during the period 1998-99 did not exceed 35 as against the death toll of 537 during the tenure of former regimes.
Giving it a serious pondering and discussing the matters with legal eagles and people from different shades of life, one arrives at the conclusion that there is no alternative to humanization of law-enforcement structure. The greater the element of humanitarianism in policing, the greater are the chances of lasting peace returning to the society. When I asked someone close to the then IG Police of Sindh as to how did he describe the police model introduced by Rana Maqbool, he replied that it could be named 'inspirational, food-supply model'. On the inspiration side, it means a cop practically assuming the role of a welfare officer of the community.
Doesn't it sound odd, given the brutality that has taken roots among majority of our police personnel who are now very much used to behaving like a force and not like a department of public service? Believe you me, even during the days of oppression (or suppression) which many of my friends remember as British colonial Raj, a police officer was supposed to perform as a welfare officer of the area.
A well-informed person, elaborating the inspirational, food-supply model and the story of its success, told me that as for inspiration, it came through cultivating relationships with people from all walks and tiers of life instead of a cop resorting to conceit and self-importance, giving diktats and making sure that they were 'obeyed' (obviously through coercion). And as for the food supply model, it means not leaving even one ordinary cop hungry while on duty, even at remote and distant spots where food supply was understood to be a casual routine. A cop, served even ordinary food like lentils and onions, with honour and comfort, is like a soldier, say the proponents of this model.
And a cop inspired by his seniors who respect their juniors, instead of hating them as plebeians, is like a determined, unyielding soldier on the toughest battlefront on earth. I recommend to the government to adopt this inspirational model of governance or to introduce inspirational governance at all levels and modes of administration and then see the results. And for God's sake, don't take the food supply side as some kind of stuffing programme. It is just meant to explain that senior-junior amity (not hatred) always pays.
And I'm also convinced that once this model is put in place, our politicians like the iron man Mian Shahbaz Sharif won't need to resort to "Kaifare Kirdaar" (bringing to justice without reins of justice in his hands) threat every now and then. When the graph of crime or that of anti-social activities falls so steeply, we might enter an era where we don't need to put the blame for escalation of crime on legal eagles, law-enforcers or media.