During the past 70 years, Policing structure of Pakistan, especially Punjab and Sindh, is based on the close co-operation between the political elite and bureaucracy instead of community oriented policing. Before the partition of the subcontinent, an institution was the tool to ensure the sustainability of the British rule by suppressing the indigenous resistance by getting assistance from the pro-British feudal elite.

History of Police culture in Pakistan

However, Police was well-structured and well-organized department based on the coherent accountability, professional Excellency, and meritocracy.

Due to the absence of the democratic continuity and presence of feudal cultural values, it was perceived as the institution essential for the survival of any government due to use as the force against democratic resistance and political dissidents.

After the enactment of Police Order 2002—an act legislated by the military dictator to reform the policing culture—profound change in the principle objectives of Pakistani Police was witnessed. This act paved way for collaboration between the community and department due to the establishment of public safety commission—an institution that promulgated democratic accountability—in Pakistan. Later, the ordinance was dissolved after provinces were given legislative powers to legislate their own laws.

Importance of IT-based initiative in Police reforms

Finally, Police of Lahore, Pakistan’s second most populous city, has decided to increase the efficiency, performance, and credibility of the department by acknowledging the importance of community-oriented policing. According to Lahore Police administration head and Senior Superintendent of Police, Rana Ayyaz Saleem, who spoke to me in his office in Lahore on Tuesday said, “ we’ve developed smartphone application—named as Local Eye—by getting technical assistance from local IT firm to develop co-ordination between newly elected local bodies representatives and our officials”.

He further said that application will provide the opportunity to elected representatives to inform Police about any suspicious activity, contact the local officials on any matter and lodge complaint against any official. The application will also facilitate us in anti-terrorism operations by improving the process of rental registration.

This idea was the result of the brainstorming by the Mr Ayyaz Saleem—who is always seen as the torchbearer of the community policing in the country—and technical assistance by renowned IT professional Khurram Qaiser.

Launching ceremony of the “Local Eye” was held in Lahore engineering university attended by all local bodies’ representatives, department officials and IT professionals. The application has been installed on the smartphones of all representatives while city mayor was also asked to ensure the accountability of people who might use an application to settle their personal grievances against the people. This application might be termed as the small step in the country where hundreds of key reforms are urgently needed in Police, but step must be recognised as the game changer to begin in the right direction.

During the past few years, Police has rightly increased dependence on the information technology-based initiatives, especially under the command of IGP Mushtaq Sukhera and DIG Dr Haider Ashraf.

Final comments

According to Civil Society activists and journalists, Police needs to take more steps if officials want to enhance the trust of people. As per my opinion, time will act the adjudicator to determine the success of this initiative, but the department, especially administration head Ayyaz Saleem, must be given credit for taking right step in right direction to turn the tide