Karachi at one point in time (2014) was 6th in the World Crime Index, however, in recent years crime has decreased exponentially and today it’s at 70th with many first world cities behind. Safety & Security Today had the chance to talk to Dr. Syed Kaleem Imam who is the Inspector General of Police, Sindh to get an insight into the law enforcement challenges in the province and Karachi in particular. Following are the excerpts of his interview.
S&ST: Tell us something about your educational and professional background?
I hold a Master Degree in Philosophy, an LLM in Human Rights Law and Doctorate in Politics and International Relations. After passing Central Superior Services (CSS) exam, I was appointed as ASP in 1988 (16th CTP) and rose to my present rank of Inspector General of Police (IGP) in 2017. From ASP to my present rank of IGP, I have served in the federal capital and three provinces i.e. Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan. I have held postings of IGP Islamabad, IGP NH&MP, IGP Punjab and currently I am holding the post of IGP Sindh since September 2018.
I have also worked for United Nations (UN) as Chief of Operations in Mozambique, Police Planning Coordinator in Liberia and Deputy Police Commissioner and Commissioner in Darfur, Sudan.
S&ST: You have served at top posts in Punjab and Islamabad and also have the experience of serving in Balochistan. Compared to your previous assignments how challenging do you find your current role?
Policing Sindh Province as IGP Sindh is more challenging as compared to my previous assignments as IGP Punjab and IGP Islamabad because Sindh has multi-cultural and multi-ethnic population. Karachi is the biggest city of Pakistan having a population of 14.90 million which is highly charged and ethnically divided into various groups. Policing such divergent city which provides 60% revenue of total GDP is not an easy job particularly when the remnants of armed local wings and ethnic and sectarian activities often challenge the writ of law. Since Sindh shares a large border with Balochistan, having anti-state and hardened criminal hideouts, therefore policing in Sindh is more complex then policing in the rest of Pakistan.
S&ST: With a population of 14.90 million, Karachi is the largest city in the country, what are the major law and order challenges that such a city poses?
Besides law and order situation created due to political, ethnic and sectarian fault lines, police remains engaged in tackling the law and order problems as a result of load shedding, water shortage, mass urbanization, poverty, unemployment, traffic congestion and protests/rallies. During March and April of the current year, 402 rallies and protests were peacefully handled by Sindh Police. Tackling these challenges is not an easy task and needs professionalism and dedication on the part of the Police Force.
Despite the shortage of resources and manpower Sindh Police is trying its best to meet these challenges and provide peace and stability to the citizens of Karachi and the rest of Sindh. That is the reason Police Force has been able to maintain a peaceful environment during the recent mega-events in Karachi such as by-elections, IDEAS-2018, visit of West Indies Women Cricket Team, Naval Exercise AMAN, Emerging Asia Cup and Pakistan Super League. Owing to the performance of Sindh Police, Karachi which was declared sixth most dangerous city in 2013 is now at number seventy. This remarkable performance was achieved due to relentless and sustainable efforts.
S&ST: Have you set any goals or are there any key areas that you have already worked on or will do in your capacity as the IG Sindh?
Being IGP Sindh I am already focusing on following key areas to increase the capacity building of police to meet the challenges.
An elevated post of DIGP Investigation has been created. A new investigation manual has been issued to achieve the pinnacle of capacity building for police as a viable institution for effective crime fighting and maintaining law and order situation with the help of other stakeholders. The cost of investigation of cases will now be paid in advance so that I.Os do not face any problem in conducting and finalizing the investigation as per current national judicial policy.
Several MoUs have been signed with different NGOs and Educational Institutions for providing better education to the children of police personnel. Now almost every person injured in the line of duty is treated, and ailing cops are provided medical facilities.
Capacity building is a backbone for efficient policing. In this regard School of Intelligence and Investigation, School of Finance and Procurement and School of CTD and Special Branch have been established at various training centers.
Complaint Redressal Mechanism
To provide an efficient, reliable and organized public complaints redressal mechanism, the public complaint cells are established in all Ranges/ Districts.
Workshop/ Symposium/Capacity Building:
To enhance and upgrade the police performance, National Level workshops are being arranged. Recently two workshops have been arranged by Sindh Police.
1. Strategic Workshop “Retreat”, to know where current policing is standing and the way forward.
2. Workshop by Special Branch on “Intelligence Based Policing”, to discuss the issues/challenges.
S&ST: Law and order situation remained fragile in Karachi for many years; the situation has however improved in recent years. However, apart from Karachi how satisfied are you with the performance of Sindh Police in other major cities of the province and the rural areas?
The Police Force is also performing well in Interior of Sindh especially in rural areas where a massive crackdown has been carried out in the recent past against dacoits in Katcha areas. Now complete writ of law has been established in the areas which were earlier a hotbed of crime.
As a result of proactive policing in other cities of interior Sindh especially in rural areas, the graph of the cases of murder, dacoity, robbery, kidnapping for ransom and Karo-Kari has fallen. Murders have been reduced by 6.3%, dacoities 17.2 %, robbery 12.6% and kidnapping for ransom by 66.7%. The post of Regional Police Officer has been created recently for Hyderabad and Sukkur Regions to ensure close monitoring over Zonal and District Police officers, to further curb crime in the interior of Sindh. Issues like tribal feuds and Karo-Kari still exist, however, they have been reduced due to proactive policing. An awareness program has already been started involving tribal heads and respective DIGs to hammer out an Alternate Dispute Resolution system to resolve the tribal feuds and disputes.
S&ST: Is it true that the colonial-era Police Act of 1861 is still functional in Sindh?
Yes, Police Act of 1861 is functional in Sindh. There were efforts to bring reform in Police Act in 2002 and many good changes were made. But some were not implemented in their true spirit. However, on the direction of the judiciary, the Sindh government is going to enact the new Police Act catering for present day complex policing needs.
S&ST: Does the Police Act of 1861 conform to the ground realities of policing in the present day?
It does not conform to the ground realities of policing in the present day. It needs to be changed as the same was promulgated by the British era to extract revenue from the subjugated people of sub-continent and maintain order. Since we are an independent and democratic nation, Police Act 1861 needs to be changed to effectively tackle crime, terrorism, cybercrime and facilitating the law-abiding citizens to gain their cooperation in fighting crime.
S&ST: How would you compare the Police Act of 1861 to Police Order 2002?
Baring a few articles of Police Order 2002, the major part was practical based on community policing and as per the current needs for enhancement of professionalism and better service delivery.
S&ST: How serious is the need for modern and progressive law to ensure better performance of the Police Department (with regards to Sindh)?
It is the need of time to have a modern and progressive law to counter problems like terrorism, organized crime, cybercrime and other law and order issues.
S&ST: In your view is having a uniformed Police Law in the country a better option or provinces should bring their laws for Police considering their ground realities?
There has to be a police law that conforms to the basic requirements of police and policing in any province of Pakistan. However, due to cultural and demographic variations, minor alteration from province to the province can be made allowing the best possible practices by each province based on this law. Original Police order 2002 in alignment with recent court orders is the best way forward.
S&ST: Political interference in the working of Police is a much talked about issue (especially in Punjab and Sindh), in your view how serious is this particular issue and how does it affect the working of Police?
Extraneous influence is a serious issue and a hurdle in the working of Police. But professionalism is the best course for service delivery and proficient working is an answer for all pressures.
S&ST: How would you comment on the general perception that Police system in Pakistan is not only outdated but also arbitrary and whimsical which reflects in the performance?
It is not completely true that Police System is outdated. However, it needs efforts 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.
S&ST: Talking about perceptions, another common perception is that there is a glaring lack of accountability in the Police department. Would you agree?
I disagree with the perception that there is a lack of accountability in the Police Department. An effective system of accountability exists in Police Department whereby the guilty officers are awarded appropriate punishments under the existing Efficiency and Disciplinary Rules while the good officers are appreciated by granting them commendation certificates and cash rewards for their encouragement. It is a matter of record that the Police Department has awarded more punishments to its employees (Police Personnel) as compared to any other department of Sindh government.
During the current year 4028 major/minor punishments were awarded to officers/officials of different ranks of Sindh Police, whereas an amount of PKR 98,984,675/- has been distributed as a reward to motivate the force.
Recently Internal Accountability Branch (IAB) has also been established under the Chairmanship of DIGP L&T Sindh Karachi. Besides this, a Complaint Redressal Cell under the command of SP (or DSP) has also been established (in every district of Sindh) which directly reports to IGP Office to ensure transparency and accountability.
S&ST: Extra-judicial killings and alleged ‘fake encounters’ have become somewhat of a common occurrence in Karachi with some particular cases resulting in country-wide protests. It is hard to fathom that such cruel things could still happen that too in a city like Karachi. How would you comment on the issue of extrajudicial killings and fake encounters, do you believe that is a serious blemish on the conduct of Police?
Leaving aside a few incidents majority of civilians causalities during encounters cannot be brought in the purview of fake encounters as such killings occurred in pursuit of criminals. In some of the cases, killings occur due to training issues as the concerned Police Officials lacked proper weapon handling especially in crowded public places. However, those police officials, involved in such killings, have not only been prosecuted in the concerned courts but strict departmental action has also been taken against them. 23 police officials have been arrested, 12 suspended and 26 dismissed. The existing training program of police is being revamped in order to minimize the collateral damage arising from poor weapon handling.
S&ST: Outdated investigation methods are often cited as a reason for the inability to resolve cases. How have the investigation methods changed over the years in Police Departments in Pakistan and how much more do we need to improve?
Improvement in investigation is required to counter modern ways adopted by criminals. We have already revamped Crime Branch Sindh by designating it as Investigation Branch Sindh under the command of a DIGP to conduct investigation in heinous cases by adopting modern techniques of forensic science. However, the present investigation methods can also be further improved by conducting the investigations with the help of DNA techniques and using the services of NADRA Database. Investigation experts from US and France are also giving training to the investigation staff of Sindh Police.
S&ST: In your view has public trust in police improved in recent years. Kindly also comment on the importance of public trust for efficient working of a police force and steps necessary to further increase the trust of the public?
Yes, it is important but still needs more efforts to improve Police Public cooperation. Initiatives such as “Victims Support Program” and “Rewards for the Brave Citizens” have also been undertaken to enhance public trust in police.
S&ST: What is your view on the concept of community policing?
Sindh Police is already working with the community. CPLC is an example of Police Public partnership in curbing crime with joint efforts of the community. The model of CPLC based community policing will also be introduced in all the Ranges of Sindh Province.
The population of Sindh is 47.89 million, whereas, the strength of Sindh Police Department is 123,025, which is not enough to fight crime effectively in the entire province. Hence the police needs the cooperation of the general public to fight crime.
S&ST: Information Technology has become a part of life in every sphere. Do you think information technology can transform how the Police force works and enhance its effectiveness?
Yes, the use of information technology is need of the day and Sindh Police is well aware of such technology. A full-time post of Director IT, CPO under DIGP IT has already been created to transform the manual working system of Sindh Police into computerized working system for which various programs have already been started. The following are the new projects of Information Technology:-
- Individual Record Authentication Services
- Human Resource Management Information System (HRMIS)
- Criminal Record Management System (CRMS)
- Police Station Record Management System (PSRMS)
- IGP’s Complaint Management System (CMS)
- Hotel Eye Management System (HEMS)
- Resource Management System (RMS)
- Criminal Record Identification (CRI)
One of the recent IT based success stories is tracing culprits of the attack on Chinese Consulate in Karachi which was worked out in few hours by using the modern computer technology and NADRA Database.
S&ST: Prosecution and justice system are vital in bringing criminals and terrorists to justice; are those two aspects also in major need of improvement?
Yes, this is the need of the hour as the existing criminal justice system needs to be revamped to bring criminals and terrorists to speedy justice. Police Department is already working in strengthening the prosecution and justice system through the steering committee based on directions issued by the Honorable Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan.
S&ST: You recently announced that transgender people in Sindh will be able to serve as regular duty Police officers. For a country where participation of even women remains limited in many fields, this is indeed historic. However, are you satisfied with the current ratio of male to female in the Police Force?
The current ratio of female police officers in the Sindh police department is 1.4% of the total workforce. Sindh Police is set to encourage women to join at ASI level and bring the ratio to 5%. Transgender are also a part of the society, therefore, to bring them to the mainstream, Sindh Police has decided to appoint transgender as Police Officers. Initially, they will be appointed as operators and for indoor duties and then their scope of work will be gradually expanded. Sindh is going to be the first province to appoint transgender in Police Department.
S&ST: What are some of the major changes/initiatives you have brought in your current capacity?
- Formulation Of Internal Accountability Bureau For Internal Accountability In Sindh Police
- Complaint Redressal Mechanism System
- Addition Of 10 Police Facilitation Centers And 33 Reporting Rooms To Facilitate Public
- Legislative Reforms
- National Level Workshop For Capacity Building Of Police Command.
- “An Hour With Guest” Program To Learn How To Achieve Success From Senior Officers
- More Than 13 Campaigns Have Been Launched Related To Various Fields Of Policing To Enhance Capacity Building Of Police And Improve Its Performance.
S&ST: Any message for our readers and the general public?
The Sindh Police in pursuit of its mission believes in providing quality service with the highest possible degree of excellence, based on the principles of fairness, integrity, honesty and respect for human dignity. All the officers/officials of Sindh police are already been directed to familiarize themselves with the mission statement and to continue its tradition of service to the people along with firm enforcement of law in a courteous manner. The police is bound to serve all the law abiding citizens regardless of caste, race and religion. The Sindh Police has sacrificed more than 2500 of its officers/officials in the line of duty to save precious lives and property of the citizens of Sindh and will continue to do so.