Undemocratic policing

Undemocratic policing
Sanjay Patil, Maja Daruwala and Asad Jamal
The News, March 27, 2009

With the restoration of Chief Justice ftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, it would be easy to overlook the role of the police in the preceding saga and how the police has been manipulated by vested interests to serve as an instrument of oppression. The undemocratic use of force by the democratically elected government in Islamabad is particularly disappointing. While the Pakistan People's Party takes pride in its struggles against military dictatorships, it has imposed governor's rule in Punjab. Governor Salmaan Taseer's orders for transfer of "unfriendly" senior police officials and for application of Section 144 throughout the province in advance of the lawyers' long march are examples of how the police have been used to secure and solidify power.

The immediate desire of a newly-elected member of Parliament is usually to get appointed in his area police officials he knows and can "trust." When Shabhaz Sharif was compelled to step down as chief minister, Governor Taseer immediately removed the inspector general of police and replaced him with Khalid Farooq, a handpicked appointee. In fact, four police chiefs in local stations in Lahore were dismissed on March 11 for alerting Muslim League workers to the fact that the authorities were looking to detain them for their involvement in organising protests. Across Punjab, 22 police chiefs considered loyal to the Sharifs had been replaced.

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