( Information About Police Force ) 

Pakistan: Structure of the police force; institutions and/or agencies that have been set up to receive and investigate complaints made by the public against members of the police; recourse available to individuals who file complaints against the police (January 2000 - March 2004)

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Ottawa

This Response incorporates, and in some instances updates, relevant sections of PAK35635.E of 17 October 2000.

Structure of the Police Force

The police system in Pakistan was adopted from the British through the Police Act of 1861 (Centre for Strategic and International Studies 9 Dec. 2002). According to the United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFEI), a United Nations regional institute established in 1962 (UNAFEI n.d.), this Act originally established the police as

… not [as] a politically neutral outfit for fair and just enforcement of law. Police was designed to be a public-frightening organization, not a public-friendly agency. Service to the people was not an objective of this design (UNAFEI Feb. 2003, 94).

As soon as six months after Pakistan became an independent country in 1947, many attempts were made to change the colonial police, but none were implemented until the government enacted the Police Order 2002 in August 2002 (ibid., 99-103).

The Police Act of 1861 provided that the inspector general of police (IG), as the head of the provincial police, was responsible for the formulation and execution of police policies, as well as for advising the provincial government on matters concerning police administration in the province (ibid., 97). The IG was "assisted by several Deputy Inspectors General posted on a territorial basis, usually each to a group of three to five districts called a range" (ibid.). The Deputy IG (DIG) was responsible for the supervision of the District Superintendents in his range, who acted as heads of the district police and were responsible for

… all matters relating to the internal economy of the force, its management and the maintenance of its discipline and the efficient performance of all its duties connected with the prevention, investigation and detection of crime (ibid.).

In addition to being accountable to the DIG, the district superintendent was also responsible to the district magistrate (ibid., 98). According to the IG of Police of Balochistan province, Muhammad Shoaib Suddle's paper entitled "Reforming Pakistan Police: An Overview," in practice police operations were also controlled and directed at the sub-divisional level by the assistant commissioner (who is subordinate to the district magistrate), and at the divisional level, by the commissioner (ibid.). Suddle goes on to say that

… the police were impressed upon to act as the 'hands' of the civilian authorities, thereby reducing the former to an agency of the latter and practically excluding the Inspector General and his deputies from supervision of police not only in the sphere of law and order but also, to a very large extent, even from its internal administration (ibid.).

This "constant interference with the authority of senior officers of police," according to Suddle, led to, among other things, a "spoiling [of] the discipline of the force" (ibid.).

As part of an effort to implement police accountability, on 14 August 2001, the Office of the District Magistrate was abolished (ibid., 102). One month before the abolishment of this office, a news article published in Dawn described the state of police accountability in Pakistan in the following way:

… [p]olicemen commit excesses taking advantage of their uniforms. They have killed people in dubious encounters, many have died of torture in police custody, police investigators have a habit of involving innocent people in heinous crimes to extort money and they get involved with land grabbers and in every other evil that exists in our society. Yet we find only a handful of policemen punished for misuse of authority and unlawful acts committed under legal cover (24 July 2001).

When concerns surfaced about police accountability, the Dawn article noted that police officials referred to the existence of "an internal arrangement for disciplinary action" and "a system of judicial inquiry" as mechanisms of accountability (24 July 2001). The officials reportedly highlighted that the judicial inquiry was

… conducted by judicial magistrates without the active support of the police, [who] collect[ed] evidence from the parties concerned and [came] out with a finding. However, it is ironic that in most cases where policemen had been charged with misuse of authority or committing criminal acts, the judicial inquiry findings go in favour of the police (Dawn 24 July 2001).

In his 2002 presentation on law enforcement and internal security in Pakistan at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, Hassan Abbas, a member of the Pakistan police service who had also worked for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), stated that in respect of the police structure, there were

… only two appointments [that had] real power, one [was] the Station House Officer [SHO], who [was] the man in the field and roughly equivalent to a sergeant in the army. He ha[d] about 40-50 people in his staff and look[ed] after an area with anywhere from 100,000 to 400,000 people in rural districts and even more in urban areas. The next important person [was] the Inspector General of police, who [was] in charge of the whole province (Center for Strategic and International Studies 9 Dec. 2002).

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2003 identifies the SHO as "the official who runs each precinct" (25 Feb. 2004, Sec. 1.d.).

Abbas also stated that although the police was a provincial organization, persons holding positions that were higher than the assistant superintendent were federal officers (Center for Strategic and International Studies 9 Dec. 2002).

More recent information on the structure of the police force in Pakistan could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

The Police Order 2002

In August 2002, the government enacted the Police Order 2002, which replaced the Police Act of 1861 (Center for Strategic and International Studies 9 Dec. 2002) and restructured the police in Pakistan (Dawn 10 Mar. 2003) to render it "'professionally competent, operationally neutral, functionally cohesive and organizationally responsible for all its actions'" (UNAFEI Feb. 2003, 103).

The key officials under the Police Order are the Provincial Police Officer (PPO), the Capital City Police Officer (CCPO), the Town Police Officer (TPO) and the District Police Officer (DPA) (The Herald June 2003c, 55). The PPO is equivalent to the IG under the old police structure, except that in addition to having administrative powers, the PPO also has financial powers, and cannot be removed from office for a period of three years (ibid.).

The Order also provides for the establishment of public safety commissions at the district, provincial and national levels and an independent Police Complaints Authority at the national and provincial levels (The News 10 Nov. 2003; UNAFEI Feb. 2003, 103). The role of the safety commissions is to supervise the police, while the district public safety commissions have "the added responsibility of functioning as a Police Complaints Authority" (The News 10 Nov. 2003). (Please see the attached excerpt from Dawn for the relevant section of the Police Order). Under the Police Order, the safety commissions have the authority to transfer police officers of any rank on the basis of ineffectiveness or integrity (ibid.). The role of the Police Complaints Authority at the national and the provincial level is to investigate grave complaints made against police officers (ibid.).

Implementation of the Police Order 2002

Although in early 2003 Dawn reported that a district public safety commission had not been established in Karachi (10 Mar. 2003; Dawn 19 Apr. 2003), the IG of Police of Balochistan province, Muhammad Shoaib Suddle, indicated that district public safety commissions had in fact been established throughout Pakistan (UNAFEI Feb. 2003, 103). The IG of Police of Sindh province, Afzal A. Shigri, confirmed this in late 2003, however he added that the commissions had not been given the appropriate resources and that their members had not been briefed or received any training (The News 10 Nov. 2003). Shigri also said that the members "reportedly are unaware of their responsibilities and have no clue about parameters of their powers. … [S]ome consider themselves mere members of peace committees, [while] others seem to consider themselves the replacement of the district magistrate" (ibid.).

Local news articles indicate that public safety commissions at the national and provincial levels have not been established (ibid.; The Herald June 2003b, 48; Country Reports 2003 25 Feb. 2004, Sec.1.d.), nor has the government established the Police Complaints Authority at the national and provincial levels (The News 10 Nov. 2003; Dawn 19 Apr. 2003; The Herald June 2003b, 48).

In correspondence to the Research Directorate, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said that it is difficult in Pakistan for citizens to lodge complaints against the police mainly because the agencies responsible for receiving and processing such complaints had not been set up or had not become operational (10 Mar. 2004). The HRCP indicates that under the Police Order 2002, the public safety commissions are the primary institutions responsible for receiving and investigating public complaints against the police, but to date these remain non-operational in most parts of Pakistan (ibid.). The HRCP specifies that public safety commissions have been set up at the provincial and district levels in the North-West Frontier Province as of between October 2003 and March 2004 (10 Mar. 2004). Consequently, as of April 2004 it was too early to assess the effectiveness of these commissions (HRCP 10 Mar. 2004).

In practice, writes the HRCP, the judicial system has been most commonly used for lodging complaints against the police, and the courts have tended to punish police officers more frequently than in the past (ibid.). In other instances, the HRCP indicated, persons have also used public protests, the press and non-governmental organizations such as the HRCP to lodge their complaints (ibid.).

In a May 2003 Dawn news article on district public safety commissions, the author noted that the government had not generated any public awareness concerning the commissions, including their role, functions and how an aggrieved person can file a complaint with a commission for relief (10 May 2003).

In June 2003, Jamil Yusuf, one of the authors of the new Police Order 2002, noted that only those aspects of the law that grant powers to the police had been implemented, while the aspects that provide for accountability were still awaiting implementation (The Herald June 2003b, 49). He also added that

… under the previous system, deputy commissioners acted as a buffer between the public and the police. "Now that buffer has been removed and the safeguards prescribed in the new system are not being implemented…. This way we are left with a police force which has more power but is subject to no checks on the misuse of these powers" (ibid.)

Similarly, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2003 states that "[a]t year's end, the comprehensive package of police reforms had not been implemented fully, and many local officials complained that the system had no real control over the police" (25 Feb. 2004, Sec. 1.a.). The report added that the Government did not investigate or punish offending police officers effectively (Country Reports 2003 25 Feb. 2004, Sec. 1.d.).

Dawn reported that even though the police had been restructured in accordance with the Police Order 2002, there was "no remarkable improvement in the … image, effectiveness, efficiency or behaviour" of the police, adding that "[t]he general impression that [the] police is a 'sign of terror' could not be dispelled" (10 Mar. 2003).

Citizens-Police Liaison Committees (CPLCs)

The Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) was first established in Sindh province at four police stations in 1989 (Government of Sindh n.d.a). In 1993, five district level committees were established in Karachi, each comprising seven members that are "drawn from a cross-section of apolitical citizens as recommended by the Chief of CPLC to the Governor [of] Sindh" (ibid.). These committees do not receive any funding from the government (ibid.). According to information received from the HRCP, the number of CPLC cells in Sindh province has remained unchanged (10 Mar. 2004).

The CPLC is obligated

  • [t]o satisfy itself that FIRs [First Information Requests] are duly registered and [that] no FIR / Complaint is refused.
  • To find out [whether] dilatory tactics are being adopted by the Investigating Officers in investigating … cases.
  • To find out [whether] the processes are being served properly.

  • To find out [whether] any person is unlawfully … detained at the police stations.

  • To report the acts of misconduct or neglect of duty on [the] part of any police officer (Government of Sindh n.d.b).

Other responsibilities of the CPLC include the following:

  • Citizens Complaints.

  • To create confidence, remove misunderstanding and narrow … the credibility gap between the police and members of the public.
  • To appraise the SHO of the police station with the genuine grievances of the members of the public/residents of that area, with a view to look into the causes and suggest remedial measures (ibid.).

In April 2001, Dawn reported that the Home and Tribal Affairs Department of the North West Frontier Province "directed all deputy commissioners to establish citizens-police safety commissions in their respective districts for the redressal of public grievances and complaints against [the] police" (1 Apr. 2001). The commissions were to be composed of journalists, lawyers, former bureaucrats, teachers and social workers (Dawn 1 Apr. 2001). According to the article, such a commission had already been established and had started working in some districts, such as Mansehra (ibid.). More recent information on whether and where such commissions had been established within the North West Frontier Province, could not be found by the Research Directorate among the sources consulted.

The Punjab police, according to an article published in Dawn, decided in 2001 to set up an internal accountability process to curb police "corruption and highhandedness" (9 May 2001). It also decided that it would set up CPLCs (ibid.). However, according to information provided to the Research Directorate by the HRCP, the CPLC office that was set up in Lahore "remains badly organised and [is] almost non-functional" (10 Mar. 2004).

Other Institutions Where the Public Can File Complaints Against the Police

In addition to the CPLCs, as of late 2000, the Sindh police also maintained a helpdesk on its Website to which citizens could forward complaints, problems or requests for assistance (Sindh Police n.d.), and which the Research Directorate was able access at that time. However, in March 2004, attempts by the Research Directorate to access the helpdesk via the Internet were not successful.

On 16 November 1999, Dawn reported that the Deputy IG of Police in Lahore, Punjab province, had established a Range Police Complaint Authority to hear complaints against police officials concerning inadequate or delayed investigations, and non-registration of first information reports. The article informed that complaints could be sent to the office of the Deputy IG (DIG) at the Lahore range either by mail or by fax, and that a counter had also been set up on site for the receipt of such complaints (Dawn 16 Nov. 1999). Information on the status of the Range Police Complaint Authority as of April 2004, could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

The Office of the Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman)

The Office of the Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman) is a non-political institution (Pakistan n.d.) that is governed by the Establishment of the Office of Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman) Order, 1983 (ibid.; Salam n.d., 13). The Order is a "constitutionally protected law [that] cannot be changed or amended except in the manner in which the Constitution can be changed or amended" (ibid., 13-14).

The objective of the Office of the Wafaqi Mohtasib is to enforce administrative accountability, which is achieved through the investigation and redress of injustices committed against citizens through "maladministration" on the part of a federal agency or federal government official (Pakistan n.d.; Salam n.d., 14, 15). Maladministration is defined as encompassing:

… a decision, process, recommendation, an act of omission or commission, which:

(a) is contrary to law, rules or regulations or is a departure from established practice or procedure;.

(b) is perverse, arbitrary or unreasonable, unjust, biased, oppressive or discriminatory or is based on irrelevant grounds, or

(c) involves the exercise of powers, or the failure, or refusal to do so, for corrupt or improper motives.

It also includes neglect, inattention, delay, incompetence, inefficiency, ineptitude in the administration, or in the discharge of duties and responsibilities (Pakistan n.d.).

The ombudsman however, does not have jurisdiction over matters that are already in the judicial system awaiting judicial consideration, or over matters

…relat[ing] to the external affairs of Pakistan or dealings of Pakistan with any foreign State or government; or relat[ing] to, or connected with the defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, the military, naval and air forces of Pakistan, or the matters covered by the laws relating to those forces. Also complaints on behalf of a public servant or functionary concerning any matters relating to the [federal] Agency in which he is, or has been, working in respect of any personal grievance relating to his service matters (Salam n.d., 15-16).

In addition, the relevant law provides that the Ombudsman cannot investigate or consider anonymous or pseudonymous complaints (Pakistan n.d.).

Once an investigation has been concluded, the Ombudsman can reject the claim or he can ask the relevant federal agency to (1) change or cancel its decision, (2) further review the matter, (3) take disciplinary action against the public servant, (4) process cases within the timeframe allotted, (5) enhance Agency operations (6) and/or take any other measures (ibid.). The ombudsman may also "award compensation to an aggrieved person for any loss or damage suffered by that person on account of maladministration" or to the functionary or federal agency if the complaint is found to be false or frivolous (ibid.). If the Ombudsman rejects the complaint after conducting an investigation, the decision is final and cannot be reviewed (Salam n.d., 19).

The procedure for filing a complaint with the Ombudsman requires that an aggrieved person send a completed application that sets out his or her grievances against a particular federal agency, to the headquarters of the Office of the Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman) in Islamabad, or to one of the ombudsman's regional offices located in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta (ibid.). Persons who are unable to read are provided with assistance in writing their complaints, if their complaint falls within the Ombudsman's jurisdiction (ibid., 22). Should the complaint not fall within the Ombudsman's jurisdiction, the individual is informed of where to lodge a complaint, for example, with the provincial Ombudsman or in a law court (ibid.).

The provincial government of Sindh, the provincial government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Pakistan n.d.), and the provincial government of Punjab (Dawn 28 Oct. 2003) have also established a provincial Office of the Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman) within their jurisdiction (Pakistan n.d.).

In June 2003, the provincial Ombudsman of Sindh province said that since the implementation of the Police Order 2002, there was a 25 per cent increase in complaints against the police (Dawn 5 June 2003). From 20 March 2001 to 19 March 2002, the provincial Ombudsman in Sindh province received 328 complaints against the police in Karachi alone (The Herald June 2003a, 47-48). That number increased to 480 in the period covering 20 March 2002 to 19 March 2003 (ibid.). According to the Ombudsman, the situation in the rest of Sindh province is relatively the same (ibid.). Information on the outcome of these complaints, as well as information on whether the provincial Ombudsmen in Punjab and in Azad Jammu and Kashmir process complaints against the police, including their outcome, could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

A June 2003 Dawn article reported that a regional Ombudsman office in Mirpurkhas, Sindh province, was expected to begin operations on 5 June 2003, while similar offices in Hyderabad, Sukkur and Larkana had already become operational by that date (5 June 2003). More recent information on whether the office in Mirpurkhas began operations as planned, and whether other regional offices had been established, could not be found by the Research Directorate among the sources consulted.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB)

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was established in November 1999 to detect, investigate and prosecute officials involved in corrupt practices, misuse or abuse of power, misappropriation of property and kickbacks, etc. (ADB and OEDC 18 Dec. 2003). Although members of the public cannot file complaints with the NAB, they can act as informers and are given a reward if the evidence they provide results in a conviction (NAB n.d.).

In November 1999, the NAB initiated a campaign against more than one hundred reportedly corrupt Islamabad police officials, who were suspected of bribery and of offering support to criminals (PakTribune 30 Nov. 1999). Reports on the status of these cases as of April 2004, could not be found by the Research Directorate among the sources consulted.

In January 2003, the NAB arrested and charged two police officials in Lahore with abuse of authority for "accepting gratification" (PakTribune 9 Jan. 2003). Additional information on these cases could not be found by the Research Directorate.

True Stroy About Police Officer

April 13, 1999:Cops arrested from red light area

MIRPURKHAS: Two cops of Mirpurkhas Police, posted at Red Light area, were caught red-handed while enjoying sex with prostitutes. They were identified as Constable Nasim Malik and Head Constable Dildar Hussain. The cops were arrested and suspended from the police service on the directives of DIG Mirpurkhas Range.

April 5, 1999: Gambling den running under police protection

KARACHI: Sub-divisional officials of police are running a gambling den in connivance with Bughdadi police, sources revealed to The News. According to sources, notorious gambler, Allah Dad with the backing of DSP and SHO is running a gambling den, at Mama Hotel, Gali No: 6 of Nayabad area in Bughdadi police limits. On the other hand, SSP South A.D Khawaja denies existence of any gambling den in his district. Residents, however, requested to IGP Sindh and Governor Moinuddin Haider to take serious notice and action against DSP and SHO who are receiving their 'due share' and allowing the gambling under their protection. Insiders revealed, "The 'share' is very systematic and goes to the senior officials of district police and CIA. The 'share' of DIG Karachi is Rs 100,000 per week, SSP South is getting Rs 80,000 per week, DSP Bughdadi is being paid Rs 50,000 weekly, SHO Bughdadi gets Rs 60,000, SSP CIA gets Rs 50,000 per week, IG Cell is paid Rs 60,000 and Rs 30,000 weekly is paid to CIA Saddar as share which is called as 'Beat'." "Drug trafficking is also a common feature of the den and those involved in gambling there get all kinds of drugs including heroin, charas, and other deadly narcotics," a resident of the area said. "Moreover, anti-social elements associated with the den business have made the life of women folks of the area miserable," said another resident.

April 4, 1999: Cop held for car snatching

KARACHI: A policeman, allegedly involved in car snatching, was injured in a brief shoot out with Saeedabad police on Saturday and was later arrested along with his accomplice. The sources said that three accused, hired a cab (JL-2698) from the Habib Bank area in Saeedabad and after reaching a little distance away, they took out their weapons and dragged the driver Sher Ali of the cab and took the cab away. Police chased the accused and arrested two of them while their third accomplice managed to flee. The police identified the injured accused as Ghulam Abbas, a cop of Police Lines Malir and the other as Waheed. Police also claimed to have recover TT pistols from them and looking for the third.

March 21, 1999: Police accused of looting, torture

KARACHI: A citizen on Saturday claimed that 10 to 12 people, identifying themselves as police officials, barged into his residence and looted valuables besides abusing him and his family. They also allegedly threatened the family of dire consequences. M Farooq Mannan, a resident of Kausar Niazi Colony, Block H, North Nazimabad, complained to the DIG Karachi that on March 17 at around 3:30 am 10 to 12 people barged into his house. They identified themselves as police officials and looted Rs 148,000. Naming police officials Umar Qureshi and ASI Wali Khan Talpur of Jauharabad police station, Farooq alleged that they dragged the family members into a mobile and took them to the police station. "We were locked in a room and stripped and tortured in front of my sister and other female family members." The officials, he alleged, then demanded Rs 0.5 million for their release. Later, an official went to his house and forced his father to pay Rs 20,000, he disclosed adding that police were pressuring for more money. Farooq termed the DIG complaint cell's notice to the officials as ridiculous as they had been asked to appear before the DIG on March 28, a gazetted holiday for Eid-ul-Azha.

March 20, 1999: Five cops held for looting passenger

KARACHI: The New Town police on Friday arrested five policemen of Gulshan-e-Iqbal police station for their alleged involvement in looting passengers coming from airport. One Fazal Munna was deprived of 500 dirhams by the policemen deputed at a kiosk at Rashid Minhas Road, while he was coming from airport in a cab (JL-2696). In the meanwhile, the higher authorities were informed about the incident following which a mobile van of New Town police station reached the spot and arrested five policemen and recovered the looted currency. The arrested cops were identified as Head Constable Liaquat Ali, constables Zafar Iqbal, Javed Iqbal, Ijaz and driver Ishtiaq Ali.

March 17, 1999: ASI arrested

KARACHI: N-Nazimabad police arrested its own ASI Ibadat Shah and his three accomplices who had barged into the residence of Altaf Husain in Block C some days ago and arrested him in a fake case of possessing illegal arms. Later, he released Altaf after taking Rs 3,000 as bribe. Altaf had reported the matter to the high-ups and they, after conducting inquiry, arrested ASI Ibadat and others.

Mar 2, 1999: Excise cop held after encounter

KARACHI: The Gulshan-e-Iqbal police arrested a cop, after a brief shoot out on Sunday and recovered more than 300 grams of Heroin from him Police said they were tipped off that a cop, Ameer Husain, posted at Guddap police station was allegedly involved in drug dealing and would come to deliver heroin to someone under Baloch Colony bridge. Police reached the spot there and warned the cop to stop but he started firing to clear his way to flee. Police replied the fire which left the cop injured and police after arresting him shifted him to the JPMC. Police claimed recovery of a TT pistol and 300 grams of heroin from him.