Born in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1962, IGP Dr. Syed Kaleem Imam is among some of the most decorated and educated officers in the police department. He holds a PhD in Politics and International Relations from the International Islamic University, Islamabad. Dr Imam also holds an LLM in Human Rights from the University of London’s prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), besides a Master’s degree in Philosophy.
He has previously worked on high-profile posts both at the national and international levels with stints as Inspector General of Police, Punjab and Inspector General of Police, Sindh. Dr Imam has also held the post of Deputy Police Commissioner (Operations) for the African Union – United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), besides serving in UN peacekeeping operations in Mozambique and Liberia. This is his second stint as Inspector General of Police, National Highways & Motorway Police. The IG NH&MP recently spoke in a webinar arranged by Iqbal Institute of Policy Studies titled ‘Covid-19 environment and crime in Pakistan’. Below are the excerpts of his talk.
PRE COVID- 19 CRIME SCENARIO?
If we talk about the Pre Covid-19 scenario, crime generally increases with the increase in population. There is also a direct link of increase in crime with socioeconomic factors such as education, unemployment, inflation and poverty. However, in the Pre Covid-19 scenario systems were in place and working efficiently to curb crime.
CRIME DURING LOCKDOWN?
During the lockdown and smart lockdown rate of crime actually reduced. This is because since more people were staying at their homes. However, cases of civil disputes (particularly in rural areas) and cases of domestic violence saw a surge even during lockdowns.
Once the lockdown was eased there was a visible surge in crime. There are mainly two reasons for it, firstly Covid-19 lockdowns have squeezed people financially and with lesser earning opportunities more people are pushed towards crime. Secondly, the enforcement of law was weakened. This is because a large number of the police force in all provinces was affected by the coronavirus and wasn’t able to carry out its duties. With weakened enforcement crime was bound to increase.
SURGE IN TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS?
As far as situation on our national highways and motorways is concerned, there was a surge in violations. Although during lockdown the flow of traffic was greatly reduced but since there was a decrease in enforcement because of our force suffering from coronavirus, violations increased. The number of accidents on our motorways increased during the lockdown, which also hints at irresponsibility on part of the general public.
COULD IT GET WORSE?
We also need to be mindful of the fact that millions have lost jobs due to the pandemic. This has put tremendous financial burden on people. With much reduced economic activity and shrinking employment opportunities more and more people will be pushed towards crime. To tackle this community policing must be encouraged, as it could be very effective in minimizing crime. However, the most important task at hand would be to provide adequate earning opportunities to those who have lost employment. Financial aid can also help cushion this loss.
IS OUR POLICING OUTDATED?
It is not completely true that Police System is outdated. However, effort is needed to bring it at par with the Police System of developed countries. The performance is not directly related to Police System, it depends on Police Command who fail or succeed in implementing a good police system.
VIOLENCE AGAINST DOCTORS?
Violence against any stakeholder be it doctors or law enforcement personnel stems from a lack of trust in them. We have seen police stations getting attacked in the past, the violence against doctors stems from a similar mindset i.e. one of mistrust. I would strongly urge medical professionals to report any violence against them. If legal action is taken in these cases, it will create a deterrence against such incidents.
ARE YOU HOPEFUL ABOUT THE FUTURE?
Humankind has overcome even worse pandemics and disasters before. It may take some time but we will definitely defeat coronavirus. As far as finding hope, we have a very limited time in this life. We need to spread as much love and care as we can. Standing by people when they are down and being a part of their happiness is what we should all aspire to do. These are testing times but these littles gestures of kindness is what will give not only us but those around us hope.