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Police + Pak = Paupers!
Unless Zardari massively increases investment on modernising the police, his war against terror will fail

Ever heard of a weak foundation making a building stronger?

Strangely, the under-trained, under-equipped and underpaid Pakistani police seems to fit the bill aptly in Pakistan’s fight against terrorism and Taliban.

It’s true that the US alone has invested $12 billion in Pakistan to fight terror. But a large portion of the money – perhaps correctly – was used to assist the Pakistani Army. Still, merely 2.2% of the funding, a meager $268 million, has been spent on Pakistan’s police force in seven years (from 2002 to 2008). It’s important for the Pakistani government as well as foreign donors to understand that the Pakistani police force has a greater role to play than military for many reasons. One – according to the Rand Corporation, a US based think-tank – is that the Pakistani army generally believes that the primary reason it has been created has been to fight a war against India. Presumably, this means that even though the current ‘will to fight’ quotient against Taliban is pretty high within the Pakistani army, it should not be long before the generals realign sentiments once again to become pro-Taliban, as had been the case before (In the first week of July, while speaking at Capitol Hill, Zardari accepted that militants were deliberately created and nurtured [by Pakistan] as a policy).

Secondly, while any army is best suited for conventional warfare, the fight against insurgency is generally a low-intensity domestic conflict, which demands high police involvement. Thirdly, large scale army operations almost always will devastate establishments/villages and forced people to flee (in Pakistan’s case, over 3 million). Engagement of police, along with intelligence, in counter-insurgency operations have historically proved to be more successful across the globe than similar operations led by army. Unfortunately, the ill-equipped, under-funded, corrupt and mostly bureaucratized Pakistan police is still many miles off even average benchmarks. A major portion of the police force is engaged on VVIP duty.

The police to people ratio is a critically low 1:625. Reportedly, some policemen have dated weapons that have not been used even a single time. Over 80% of the police force comprises constables, showing an ungainly lack of middle leadership. Horrifyingly, over 70% of them are sick suffer from diseases like Hepatitis C, TB, and AIDS. There are only six forensic labs accessible for police nationally.

Three years ago, it was the Pakistani police that had arrested Zardari when he attempted to return to Pakistan from Dubai. Today, critically, Zardari’s upstart fight to combat terrorism could well come up a cropper if he fails to invest in the Pakistani police force. Will he do it? If not for the war, perhaps for the 10%?

By:- Akram Hoque

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