Simmering PSP unrest to cause adverse affects on terror combat, law & order

-PSP leadership aging due to poor promotional procedure
– Professional PSP lot shocked, demoralized over Nazims’ ACR authority

Makhdoom Babar

WHILE the government places anti-terror combat and general law and order stability on top of it’s priority lists, both these government priorities appear to be heading towards a sort of double jeopardy, owing to a simmering unrest amongst officers belonging to PSP (Police Services of Pakistan) Group in the backdrop of a variety of grievances and problems, being faced by the PSP officers with complete ignorance of the same on part of the government, reveal the findings of The Daily Mail.
Background interviews with the PSP officers indicate that these officers are marching on a track of constant demoralization and dejection due to a turtle pace promotional procedure, politicization of the field postings by shift of the authority of writing the ACR of senior police officers to the politically elected District Nazims, ignorance of the safety of combating police officers after their ouster from field postings and lack of comparative facilities and security covers that are available to contemporary officials of intelligence services.
These background interviews indicate that mid-career PSP officers are severely dejected because of remote chances of getting promotions, particularly from BPS-19 to BPS-20. These officers note it with a great agony and irony that despite completing 25 years of their service and that too with professionally shiny service records, a majority of them is still serving in BPS-19 while there counterparts in other service groups got promoted to BPS-20 and BPS-21 a long time ago.
A comparative study indicates that the officers belonging to the 10th and 11th CTPs (Common Training Programme) of some other groups have got promotions to BPS-17 while in the PSP only the 6th CTP was considered for this promotion. Astonishingly the officers holding the highest career post of posts, the prestigious IGP, promoted to BPS-20 only after more or less 25 years of service. The PSP officers argue that while the PSP and the DMG were having similar job specification than how can the DMG officers occupy more than double the vacancies in BPS-20 than that of the PSP officers, particularly when they have similar base in BPS-18. The PSP officers also question as to how can the DMG and the OMG officers occupy a large number of posts in the federal and provincial government secretariats and attached departments as compared to the presence of PSP over there particularly when all the 3, i.e. PSP, DMG and OMG are part of the APUG. The PSP officers claim that there is a limit placed on the post available to the PSP, reducing the number of vacancies for promotion while this unfair practice was a crystal clear violation of IPCC-1993 service sharing formula that requires due shares for all APUG service.
The PSP officers allege that the regular sequence of the promotion in the police service was very badly jolted by the direct induction of nearly 50 military officers on the rank of major of equivalent in BPS-18 in the PSP.
On the other side, the PSP officers are deeply perturbed over the new development in which the government authorizes district nazims to write the Annual Confidential Report (ACRs) of the District Police Officers. PSP officers say that this was a clear attempt of very badly politicizing the institution of police, hitting it right on the core by the government while the government hides behind the notion of devolution of power to the grassroots level. These officers question as to how can a politically elected person write a technical confidential report of a career police officer. “How can a professional get his career ruined on the hands of a politician. It is just like placing the professional police officers on the mercy of the politicians. In past the maximum punishment that a police officer could get by saying no to a wrong order of a politician was transfer but see what’s now! Yes, now it is your entire bloody career on stake! We are better off on off-field postings and prefer to remain on sidelined postings rather than going to the field duties with comprehensive career threats by politicians”, was the unanimous reply of at least 39 PSP officers in their background interviews with The Daily Mail. They say that on one side President asks government servants to say no to the wrong orders and on the other side the entire careers of the field police officers have been put on a constant risk under the mercy of politicians who very rarely give the right orders. They say that after the introduction of this new ACR practice, all the career and service-conscious police officers are showing their utmost reluctance in going to the field postings and the trend will continue to gear up in the coming few years. “Government has been pledging and making promises of de-politicizing the institution of police with no political interference at any level but at the same time the move of authorizing nazims to write ACRs of senior police officers is the worst example of politicizing the police infrastructure”, commented a few other PSP officers adding that in light of this new development, government won’t be able to have able and capable police officers on the field duties in future. “We really feel like being orphans with no patronage and support from anywhere with this new ACR development”, commented another group of PSP officers.
PSP officers also express their severe reservations over the police reforms and categorically declare them as a flop programme. They said that current police reforms were completely illogical and would cripple the functioning of police. They said that there was no representation of junior and senior police officers or the SHOs and the investigating field cops during the formulation of these reforms but only a bunch of senior most cops were engaged in the process who were thousands of miles away from the ground realities that the young officers and the SHOs of today are facing under the current crime and terror trends. “How can an officer evaluate and analyze the problems of an SP, ASP or SHO that they are facing today under the current circumstances while he has not been exposed to these problems for 15 or 20 or even 25 years. There should have been a reasonable representation of SSPs, SPs, ASPs, DSPs and SHOs during the formulation of police reforms”, asserted some mid-career PSP officers. They say that even at the higher level like the National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB), the genuine suggestions and proposals of the police group are not being taken seriously and that’s why the people heading the police reforms at the bureau including Mr Zulfiqar Qureshi, a former Inspector General of Police, had to part their ways with the bureau as a protest though the NRB claimed that the consultants quit over their salary issues that was however not true.
The other issue, playing a major role in demoralizing PSP officers is the ignorance of their security and safety by the government once they are posted to low profile assignments after taking active part in anti-terror and anti-combat operations. They say that they’ve become quite vulnerable and stand quite exposed to the terrorist and extremist militants once they are transferred from key posts after completing strong operations against the terrorists and extremist militants. “If a district SP carries out a number of operations against Al-Qaeda operatives, militants of extremist organizations and other terror groups and is later posted to a relatively low key posting like some instructor at some police institution or like on an ordinary vacancy of an SP, he is in quite awesome position and is a very vulnerable target for the sympathizers of those against whom he carried out operations in the light of duty. You can not imagine that in what sort of agony and fear he and his family lives, thereafter as they are not safeguarded and protected to the extent-they are supposed to. You see, the officials of intelligence agencies and other law enforcement agencies are not exposed to the press and the media and even to the terrorists and militants and continue to enjoy complete secrecy with their whereabouts known to none whereas in any such cases the police officers are completely exposed to everyone with no added protection”, expressed a number of PSP officers in their background interviews with The Daily Mail, quoting numerous examples of those police officers who were killed by the terrorists or the extremist militants as a revenge of police operations that they conducted during their field postings. They say that this aspect is very deeply demoralizing the police officials in taking active part in anti-terror and anti-extremism operations and the spirit of cops can only be lifted by giving them assurances of post-operation security and safety and secrecy and by extending them the same facilities and benefits that are available to the intelligence officials and personnel of law enforcing agencies with regard to such operations. Many of them say that murder of former SSP Gujranwala, Mr Ashraf Marath, few years back and slaying of SHO Saqlain at Rawalpindi, a few months back by the operatives of militant outfits of extremists, were just a few examples that highly demoralized police officers when there was no such example available with regard to the intelligence officials and the officials of other law enforcing agencies.
In the backdrop of this simmering unrest among the PSP officers, owing to the aforesaid issues, the policing experts and counter terror specialists believe that the federal government needs to address this issue at the earliest and must take immediate steps to the satisfaction of the Police Officers, as they are the most effective tools in combating terror. These experts say that under the current situation, there was every likelihood of government loosing the competent and brilliant police officers from the field or the situation can lead them to corruption and disloyalty to the state and the service. “You see! The situation reflects that these officers are in a state of acute frustration and it ultimately leads to corruption. So it is highly imperative for the government to redress their grievances as a priority.
Suggesting steps to handle the situation and to avoid further deterioration, both the aging leadership of the PSP and young police officers propose different suggestions for subsequent implementation.
The aging leadership of the PSP suggests that all the vacancies, established after the last cadre notification of 1985 may be included in the strength of the cadre, the vacancies created under new Police Order (2002) may be made part of the PSP cadre, deputation, training and leave reserve posts may be restored to their original strength of 40% in BPS 20, 15 new PSP posts at BPS may be created in lieu of the same number of posts, reduced due to their conversion into BPS-21, the PSP group be given due share in the federal and provincial secretariat posts etc.
Similarly the field police officers insist that the authority of ACR writing of the DPOs be withdrawn from Nazims and the institution be made de-politicized. They also request that the posting of the field police officers be made on the pattern of the army officers with a fix posting tenure at one station of duty so that they can deliver with confidence of not losing the posting under political considerations or without any appropriate reason. They say that the National Safety Commission be made powerful enough with transparent representations of the concerned stakeholders. These field officers are of the firm view that the current Police Reforms be revised and rehashed with the suggestions of the active field police officers right from the level of SSPs to the low rank of SHOs. They say that the current set of separate establishments of Investigation and Security Policing is just making the things more complicated and rather completely ineffective.