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Police brutalities and tall claims of institutional reforms

Nelson Mandela has rightly said in his autobiography that a nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones – and South Africa treated its imprisoned African citizens like animals. But as of today the topic of discussion is not South Africa but Pakistan, a country that is confronted with so many institutional dilemmas and inefficient working of those who hold the power trigger even more constraints to already deprived system of governance.

The topic of institutional reforms is the point of discussion for so many of us but how these institutional reforms will be workable even the people within the bureaucracy are not convinced on the implementation to its full potential because of one reason or the other.

Police – the prime institution for the efficient economy, tourism, public safety, the prevalence of education culture, and promotion of peace because it is the law and order situation of any country that decides all these aspects, currently over-whelmed with the corruption.

The corruption here implies the misuse of power and authority. The politicization of the institution is off-course is a matter of ultimate concern as well but the misuse of power at the hands of even an ordinary policeman can add a lot more to the grievances of the general public.

SHO does not feel the authority to arrest anyone especially across over-influenced feudal cultural hubs without prior acceptance by the high-ups of the area and similar is the case with governing circles where power-influencers decide the police action their own way.

Some forms of police brutal torture culture prevailing in Pakistan are here to mention in which policeman can physically and mentally torture the accused and ways of physical torture vary from hanging a person upside down, tying the hands of accused to some elevated position and to keep him so overnight to repeatedly beating him with sticks or any other material suited to his(policeman’s) charm.

Some of the law enforcement personnel feel free in inflicting, even more, worst forms of torture in which they kept the accused within illegal detention cells may be the private buildings or even kill them to declare the deceased as belonging to some proscribed outfit.

Several police officers who spoke to the Human Rights Watch openly admitted to the practice of “fake-encounters” in which police stage an armed exchange to kill someone or to hit someone already in police custody.

Human Rights Watch also discovered that such practices include custodial beatings, by hand or with batons and littars (strips of leather), the stretching and crushing of detainees’ legs with roola (metal rods), sexual violence, prolonged sleep deprivation, and mental torture, including forcing detainees to witness the torture of others. Custodial deaths resulting from torture are not uncommon. Former detainees often reported long-lasting effects including physical pain, disability, and mental stress.

The recent case of Salahuddin instilled many to think about the custodial deaths and worst forms of police torture but what’s next? PM Imran Khan, reportedly, has called on to bring the reforms in the police system but no implementation plan seems to be in the offing any time soon.

The police system should work rightly to relieve the public grievances not to add more issues to the already inflation and poverty-stricken working-class (seemingly more dependent on the institutions) of the country.

About Noshin Bashir

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