Dr. Shoaib Suddle is regarded as a leading police reforms and justice sector reforms specialist in South Asia. He is a visiting criminal justice expert at the United Nations Asia and Far East Institute on Crime Prevention and Treatment of Offenders, Tokyo, Advisor Turkish National Police, and a resource person with several national and international organizations, including United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Vienna. He is also International Director of Asia Crime Prevention Foundation, Tokyo.
Dr. Suddle has an MSc (Econ.) in criminology and a PhD in white-collar crime from Cardiff University, UK, MSc (Physics) from Government College Lahore, and an LLB from the University of the Punjab. His doctoral thesis was on ‘Nature, Extent and Control of Income Tax Evasion in Pakistan’. He is author of several publications on justice sector issues published both in Pakistan and abroad.
Dr. Suddle’s most recent public service assignment was as the Federal Tax Ombudsman of Pakistan. Before this, he headed the Intelligence Bureau, following his stint as Inspector General Police, Sindh. He began his police career in 1973 and has held several key positions both at operational and strategic levels, including as Provincial Police Officer of Balochistan, Director General National Police Bureau, Consultant National Reconstruction Bureau, Director General Bureau of Police Research & Development, Police Chief of Karachi, Deputy Commandant National Police Academy, and Director (Economic Crime), Federal Investigation Agency. His role in controlling urban terrorism in Karachi in mid 1990s and difficult law and order situation in Balochistan (2001-04) earned him wide acclaim, both nationally and abroad. In recognition of his exceptional contribution, he was decorated with the top gallantry award of Hilal-e-Shujaat (HSt) in 1996 and top excellence award of Hilal-e-Imtiaz (HI) in 2008.
Dr. Suddle was kind enough to talk to Safety & Security Today regarding policing problems and the need for police reforms.
S&ST: Tell us something about your experience of appearing in the Central Superior Services (CSS) exam and your motivation to join Police service?
To be very honest I had never considered appearing for the CSS exam. I wanted to do a PhD in nuclear physics and I had even got admission at the University of Cambridge. But destiny had something else in store for me. While I was preparing to go aboard my mother passed away. Since I was eldest among my siblings my father asked me to stay in the country. This is when I started my career as a lecturer in Physics. It was at this time that one of my friends asked me to consider appearing for the CSS exam, which I did. When the result came out my name was not in the list of candidates who were declared successful. However, a couple of months later I received a telegram intimating me the schedule of my CSS interview. I assumed that there was some kind of a mix-up but on the insistence of a colleague when I contacted the Federal Public Service Commission I was told that my name was always in the list of candidates who had cleared the written test. Anyway, I appeared in the interview and cleared it. Interestingly in the list of service group preferences, I had not opted for police service. This was due to the fact that while growing up in my village I had a couple of bad memories of the police working.
In those days successful candidates were not allotted service groups after the interview but were inducted in the Common Training Program (CTP). While attending the CTP, the in charge of our group was Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Hafiz S. D. Jamy (a great police leader who later went on to become the Inspector General of Police Punjab). At the conclusion of the CTP, we were again given an option to change our service group preferences. Jamy Sahib asked me about my preferences and when he got to know that police service was not among them he emphatically asked me to select it as my number one preference. That is how I ended up joining the police service.
S&ST: You have served at various top positions throughout your career and are considered an authority on not just law enforcement but also justice sector reforms, crime prevention, and white-collar crime, among others. In your view what are the major problems in police departments in Pakistan?
To answer this question you need to first understand the purpose behind the creation of police department by the British. If it wasn’t for the 1857 war of independence the police model that was introduced in the sub-continent would have been fundamentally different. Because of the war of independence (which the British considered as a mutiny), keeping the natives on a tight leash became the overriding objective of the colonial government. So, instead of following the London model of police which had existed since 1829 the British went for the Irish Constabulary model. Ireland back in those days was also turbulent and controlling Ireland was akin to controlling a colony. Whereas the London model was designed to provide service to the people by upholding the rule of law, the Irish model was primarily meant for controlling a hostile population. Even the reform bill placed in the Madras Legislative Assembly was changed and what we got was the colonial Police Act of 1861.
Interestingly, in the three metropolitan cities of the time Calcutta, Madras (now Chennai) and Bombay (now Mumbai) the London police model was emulated. However, no city that later became part of Pakistan had any experience of the London model.
Soon after Pakistan attained independence in 1947, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah underscored the importance of adopting the Bombay police model for the city of Karachi but the bureaucratic elite succeeded in scuttling this contemporaneous initiative notwithstanding that the new law had already been passed by the Sindh Assembly. After that, more than 25 national/international police reforms committees and commissions recommended that the foremost need of Pakistan Police was to get rid of the Police Act of 1861. However, nothing came out of these initiatives because of politics of policing and lack of will to carry out necessary reforms.
Finally, after 141 years, we managed to formulate a new law in 2002 which came to be known as the Police Order 2002. I had drafted the blueprint of this modern law in 1997. However, this new law did not bear much fruit as the provincial governments forced the federal government, in 2004, to amend the law on a massive scale. This distorted its original form, even intent. Whereas a major aim of the new law was to depoliticize the police, it actually ended up in politicizing the police on a statutory basis which was not the case even under the Police Act 1861. The mutilated Police Order 2002 continued to operate for almost five years but in practice hardly anything changed. If anything, the policing became even more retrograde. Interestingly, Police Order 2002 in original shape got restored in 2010 as the new government didn’t continue the Police Order (Amendment) Ordinance. Though the Police Order 2002, in its original form, was duly protected as a valid federal law under the 18thAmendment [Article 270AA (2)], it was repealed by Sindh, followed by Balochistan, in 2011, and replaced with the Police Act 1861. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also introduced its own provincial law in 2016, although this law was almost 90% based on the Police Order 2002. This left Punjab as the only province where the Police Order 2002 continued functioning, though with little implementation. Interestingly, the Police Act 1861 was never replaced with Police Order 2002 in Islamabad Capital Territory, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and Gilgit Baltistan.
As far as other problems are concerned they include severe budgetary constraints, poor professionalism, arbitrary and whimsical (mis)management, corruption, lack of accountability, poor incentive system, oppressive working condition, and outdated criminal justice system. But the major problem remains the anachronistic Police Act 1861 which refuses to go away, neither in letter nor in spirit.
S&ST: What are some of the key aspects of Police Order 2002 and what were the reasons for lack of implementation on it?
The Police Order 2002 had numerous modern provisions that would have made policing a lot more efficient, effective, and accountable. Independent Public Safety Commissions were to be set up at District, Provincial and National level. The latter was to recommend a panel of three police officers for the selection of Provincial Police Officer by the Provincial Government. As far as the composition of these Commissions is concerned, it was exceptional that opposition parties were given equal representation and one-third membership was reserved for women. For instance, half of the members of the National Public Safety Commission were to be nominated by the Speaker of the National Assembly from amongst its members, three each from the treasury and the opposition in consultation with the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition. The other half comprising independent members were to be appointed by the President from a list of names recommended by the National Selection Panel headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan. Additionally, Federal and Provincial Police Complaints Authorities were to receive and independently investigate complaints of neglect, excess or misconduct against the police. This would have ensured more credible and effective external accountability of the police.
Under the Police Order 2002, the police administration for the first time became the exclusive responsibility of the Inspector General of Police. This was a complete change from the Police Act of 1861 in which there was a duality of control. Under the 1861 system, the Superintendent Police of a district was subject to vertical hierarchical control of Deputy Inspector General Police and the Inspector General Police on one hand and lateral control of District Magistrate/Deputy Commissioner, on the other hand. This dual control was a negation of the basic principles of public administration.
Last but not least, the preamble of the Police Order 2002 clearly states that the police has an obligation and duty to function according to the Constitution, law, and democratic aspirations of the people and that functioning of the police requires it to be professional, service-oriented, and accountable to the people. Under the Police Act 1861, the principal police mission was to enforce orders of the political executive.
S&ST: You have served in Punjab, Sindh as well as Balochistan. There is a different view about the police of every province and it is considered that every province has a different ‘police culture’. For instance, without going into the merits of these tags but the term ‘Thana culture’ is often used for Punjab, ‘police encounters’ have become synonymous to Sindh police (and maybe Punjab police as well) whereas the KP police seem to hold a better reputation. Does police in every province has an altogether different culture and how this ‘culture’ affects the functioning of the police?
The culture of society does affect the police and that is why the police department in every province has a different culture. In Sindh and Punjab, the police culture has taken a hit because of politicians and the rich and powerful influence the system to their advantage. Historically, the police of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan has remained less oppressive and more accessible than the police of other provinces.
S&ST: You have served as the police chief of Balochistan and are credited with extensive reforms in the police department of the province. When it comes to Balochistan, the police rarely get any mention. Even though the province has suffered massively on the law and order, other law enforcement agencies are credited for maintaining law and order in the province. How true is this perception and what are the reasons behind this?
Balochistan constitutes 44% of Pakistan’s total land mass but its share in the country’s population is less than 8%. When I was posted in Balochistan in 2001 as Inspector General of Police, only 5% of its total area was under the police jurisdiction, the rest being under the centuries-old ragtag ‘Levies’ system. The area that is under police is called ‘A’ area and the area under the Levies ‘B’ area. Police presence was restricted to towns and cities. In 2003, I gave a presentation to the Chief Executive and top federal/provincial government representatives, urging strongly that post-9/11 Balochistan needed to be brought at par with the standard policing system of other provinces. The recommendation culminated in the extension of regular police to the entire Balochistan. The federal government gave a grant of Rs. 10 billion for the conversion of ‘B’ area to ‘A’ area and by 2007 entire Balochistan became ‘A’ area. However, in 2008, the once-in-a-century reform to organize the Balochistan law and order machinery on professional lines received a setback as Balochistan again reverted to the old ‘A’ to ‘B’ areas. This is one major factor why law and order in Balochistan remains a huge challenge.
S&ST: How serious is the issue of political interference in promotions, postings, and transfers? How does this affect the working of the police?
Political interference in policing is a very serious issue that adversely affects the functioning, morale and accountability of the police.
S&ST: Is the police Order 2002 functional in all provinces as of now or did some provinces revert to the Police Act of 1861?
As already stated, the Police Order 2002 was repealed in the aftermath of 18th Amendment in Sindh, followed by Balochistan and then Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, leaving Punjab the only province where the Police Order 2002 still exists, though only in letter, while the spirit of the ghost of Police Act 1861 continues to pervade all over Pakistan.
S&ST: In your view should police in every province operate under laws that are tailor-made for the prevailing circumstances/problems or should the law be uniform on the pattern of the Criminal Procedure Code, Pakistan Penal Code and Evidence Act?
It is my firm opinion that the basic police law should be the same across the country like it is the case with the Pakistan Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code or Qanoon-e-Shahadat. However, minor changes could be made to the law by the provinces as per their specific local needs. Any fragmentation of central police law only exacerbates police ineffectiveness, inefficiency, waste of resources, and poor coordination.
S&ST: Apart from police reforms how urgent is the need for reforms in the criminal justice system?
There is a need to carry out fundamental reforms in the entire criminal justice system on an urgent basis. Without reforming the prosecution system, the courts and the prison system, the police alone cannot meet the 21st-century difficult law and order challenges. The Police Order 2002 was a serious attempt not only to reform police but also to improve much needed inter-agency cooperation through statutory District Criminal Justice Coordination Committees. The Committee consists of District and Sessions Judge (as the Chairperson), Head of District Police, District Public Prosecutor, District Superintendent Jail, District Probation Officer, District Parole Officer and District Head of Investigation. The Criminal Justice Coordination Committee is statutorily required to hold its meeting at least once a month. The Committee’s mandate is to address macro generic issues confronting the criminal justice system rather than details of individual cases. The Committee keeps under review the operation of the criminal justice system and works towards the improvement of the system as a whole, promoting understanding, co-operation and coordination in the administration of the criminal justice system. It provides a good forum to raise inter-agency issues with the appropriate authorities and share good practices, among other responsibilities.
S&ST: What are some of the areas in the criminal justice system that need urgent attention?
The primary institutions of the criminal justice system are the police, prosecution and defense lawyers, the courts and prisons. Police reforms alone cannot fix the dysfunctions of the system which needs to be restructured and overhauled to promote efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and public trust. As a starting point, all relevant – more than a century old – laws need to be updated and equipped with the required capacity and capability to deal with present-day criminal justice challenges.
S&ST: Police reforms is not a new topic, more or less every new government be it Federal or provincial talks about it. How hopeful are you that the current talk of police reforms will result in concrete action and why despite being on everyone’s agenda this is something that never results in concrete action?
Meaningful police reforms require exceptional and sustained political will which in case of Pakistan has, by and large, remained a missing element. The vested interests already seem to have succeeded in ensuring that the latest reform promises prove to be empty rhetoric. However, the good news is that the time is not on the side of the forces of status quo. If Pakistan has to emerge as a progressive democratic state in the comity of nations, the birth of a state underpinned by the universal principles of good governance, rule of law, accountability, and fairness cannot be dilly-dallied for long. Let’s remain hopeful that the rhetoric of police reform will turn into reality at not too distant a future.
S&ST: The government has changed three IGs in Punjab within a short span of 8 months, what is your take on such frequent changes and do these changes affect police morale in any way?
Such knee-jerk changes in top command of police seriously debilitate its morale and functioning. Appointments on top posts need to be carefully made, after thorough search for the best of the best. Once an appointment is made through a transparent and independent mechanism, you cannot make changes at will due to extraneous considerations. However, instances of misconduct or poor performance fall in exceptions and can be dealt with at any time as provided in the Efficiency and Discipline Rules.
S&ST: Pakistan is ranked 117 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s ‘Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2018’. Police department has developed a reputation of being rife with corruption. Can corruption in police be lessened if not completely eradicated?
The problem of police corruption cannot be dealt with effectively in isolation. You need to provide living wage, reasonable working conditions, and adequate operational budget to the police force, especially at the police station level, to seriously tame the dinosaur of police corruption. Expecting that police may become corruption-free without basic facilities like housing and medical, eight-hour working shift, a five-day working week, and appropriate work ecology will be no more than a day dream. Without addressing conditions that create unnecessary mental and physical stress, it will be too much to expect a policeman to smile in his routine interactions with the aggrieved citizen. Let’s not forget under the Police Act of 1861 the police force was designed to frighten people, instead of providing essential service to them. Keeping police on low salaries was part of the design that aimed at forcing them to indulge in routine corruption and high-handedness. If we are serious that police should behave differently, we will have to change this long outmoded and anachronistic design.
S&ST: You are well-traveled, police of which country has impressed you the most and why?
I am a student of comparative policing and have studied and observed many police forces in the world. No police can be effective without being public-friendly, and it cannot become public-friendly without reasonably improved working conditions, better professional standards, operational independence, and adequate budgets. Let me say that I have been most impressed with the Japanese police but I also admire the British police system.