Privatizing Police in Pakistan?

The last few years in Pakistan have seen significant proliferation of privatization of traditional state functions. There are a growing number of private security companies providing armed guards, private toll roads, private education at all levels, private hospitals and clinics, private water delivery businesses, and private clubs. Instead of helping improve the situation for all of their fellow citizens, it seems that the Pakistani elite are retreating into their own shells to isolate themselves from the terrible effects of deteriorating governance in their land.

Privatization wave is not limited to Pakistan alone. Prompted by growing security concerns and faced with huge budget deficits, the United States is seeing increasing privatization of security functions, often referred to as "dual law enforcement". Gated communities patrolled by private security guards are popping up all over the United States. Privately operated prisons are also growing, along with private police forces in America.

The US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have seen new highs in levels of privatization in intelligence and combat support roles. The number of US contractors working for the US military and the CIA in the Afghanistan and Pakistan region exceeds the total strength of the US troops and CIA personnel, according to estimates by Jimmy Scahill who has researched and written extensively about Blackwater (aka Xe Services). The presence of over 80,000 US military and intelligence contractors in Afghanistan and Pakistan makes the level of privatization of war unprecedented. US is reportedly employing private security contractors provided by the American private military company (PMC) Dyncorp to carry out intelligence and security operations in Pakistan.

Pakistan's neighbor India, too, has hired, armed and trained private militias like Salwa Judum in its war against the Maoists in Chhattisgarh and other Indian states. There have been allegations in the past two years of rape, murder and extortion by Judum and other such private armies backed by the state.

Sweden based security firm Securitas is emerging as one of the largest private security contractors in the world. Securitas has acquired companies to become a player in many countries from the Czech Republic to Mexico and Morocco.

Another private global security company G4S Wackenhut has presence in Pakistan, with its headquarters located in Karachi. It provides services such as armed guards, cash services, security systems, facility management, research & collection services, canine services, consultancy & risk management, to its Pakistani clients.

“These recent acquisitions (by private security corporations) reflect opportunities created by the current economic crisis. Global security providers like Securitas aspire to continual global growth and expansion, and their biggest profit margins are generally in emerging markets. As profits come under pressure in the more mature markets of Europe and North America, a global acquisition strategy becomes even more important,” Professor Rita Abrahamsen and Professor Michael C Williams of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa, told ISN Security Watch.

Local government services are being cut in many areas in the United States. California city of Tracy has decided to charge residents for responding to emergency calls. Residents can pay a $48 voluntary fee for the year which allows them to call 9-1-1 as many times as necessary. Or, there's the option of not signing up for the annual fee. Instead, they will be charged $300 if they make a call for help.

At a recent debate organized by Intelligence Squared, the attendees voted in the affirmative for the motion that "California is the First Failed State", because of its inability to provide basic services to its residents, like those in Tracy, California.

Here's a tongue-in-cheek guest post by freelance writer Syed F. Hussaini. It pushes the envelope by proposing privatization of police functions for improving the deteriorating law and order situation in Pakistan:

Pakistanis were heartbroken to see The National Geographic casually listing their country as a failed state in its September, 2009, issue.

There is no calibrated scale to measure how bad is the breakdown of law and order in Pakistan. One convenient barometer can be the personal experience. How many people an ordinary Joe knows who had been a victim of a recent crime? This simple, first hand approach would tell us that the gravity of the problem has reached a level where almost every single individual has a recent story to tell of how he himself or, a family member or friend, became a victim of a crime. It was not so in the 1970s. Back then, incidents of pickpocketing aside, a common man had to search his mind hard to think of somebody he personally knew as a crime victim.

The inability of the state to maintain law and order created a market which has since been growing steadily. Private security companies provide armed guards at the homes of the rich who now travel in convoys of sport utility vehicles loaded with gunmen. Private citizens are dispensing ready justice on the streets of big Pakistani towns burning robbery suspects alive. And, security service providers appear to be working hard to catch up with the enormous needs of this vast market of 173 million consumers.

It is not the first time the private sector is seen marching into the domain of the state and bringing in some positive change. Once upon a time, you needed good connections to get a telephone connection in Pakistan. Or, you had to pay tens of thousands of rupees as bribe to the government officials at the telephone department to have a phone line brought to your home or office.

Things changed. The winds of privatization blew away the monopoly of the telephone department and the advent of the cell phone sent armies of sales personnel chasing the consumers. Overnight, the culture of bribes disappeared from the telephone industry; at least, at the consumer end. Pakistanis would love to see a similar change in the law and order business.

If a guy goes to a police station in Pakistan to report that his car had been stolen, he has to pay thousands of rupees as bribe to have his complaint registered in the precinct records. He is robbed twice, unless he has connections.

Newspapers report robberies committed by police officers. Legend goes that the top police officials auction off the precincts to subordinate officers. The highest bidder is appointed the station house officer as the auction proceeds precinct by precinct.

Gangs run gambling, narcotics, alcohol, prostitution and other illicit businesses and pay the police off to look the other way. The police make additional money by extorting side-walk vendors, transport operators or the law-abiding motorists.

Then, there are the walk-ins seeking justice. They come in to report they had been robbed at gunpoint out on the street or at home, of their wallets, cell phones, motorcycles, automobiles or other possessions. At the precinct, everybody has to pay to have a report registered. That is good, sound, multi-billion-rupee business.

This huge revenue would be the greatest incentive for the private sector to jump into the arena of law-enforcement. Privately-owned companies can set up offices right next to the police stations and start registering First Investigation Reports (F.I.R.) for a fee. Competition between these companies would guarantee fair prices for this service.

Armed with proper government licenses, permits and authority and escorted by lawyers, these private companies can take these reports to the police precinct and have them entered into the government records.

The extortionist police officers at the precinct would lose their leverage over the lone, helpless, scared and stressed out crime victim trying to file an F.I.R. He would never set foot in their den. The police officers would think twice before they mess with the representatives of a licensed, multi-billion-rupee law-enforcement company with its corporate offices adjacent to the interior ministry in Islamabad and at the four provincial capitals.

These private companies in Pakistan can bring some law and order back to the streets of rough neighborhoods by arrays of surveillance cameras and patrols paid for by the crime-weary residents and businesses.

Such companies can set up competent crime scene investigation units and modern forensic and DNA testing labs. Their possible clients would be the families of missing or kidnapped persons and the insurance companies trying to recover stolen property, like automobiles, insured by them.

Pakistan's political leaders are mostly feudal lords or tribal chiefs. It is almost a master-slave relationship between the elected politician and the common man. A government job in Pakistan is a license to steal and extort. It is a parasite-host relationship between a government official and the common man.

However, the relationship between the industrial-business class and the common man in Pakistan is essentially a retailer-consumer one; in essence, an interactive business relationship. It is not an oppressively lopsided master-slave or parasite-host relationship. That is a great qualitative difference, a beacon of hope and solid ground to start working together for a change in the country to bring back the rule of law for mutual benefit.

Another common factor between the industrial-business class and the common man is the fear of being kidnapped for ransom. As the poor common man walks down the street looking over his shoulder, the poor rich man is firmly denied the simple pleasure of a stroll around his own mansion. The rich generate more ransom revenue, run more risk of being kidnapped and live in more fear. They, too, would like to leave their palaces by themselves any hour of day or night without any armed escort and just walk up to the roadside restaurant next block for an ice-cream or, a cup of tea, the way they did back in the 1970s.

True administration of justice, the firmest pillar of good government, is a related issue. Pakistani courts are overwhelmed with a backlog of unresolved cases. There are instances where the complainant and the respondent both have long been dead, killing the case itself. The courts do not know this because they do not have the resources to sift through their backlog for dead cases. There are cases where two parties are just looking for mediation, a fair adjudication, a lawful compromise. Buried in the backlog, the courts are unable to provide even this simple judicial service.

However, government-licensed private courts can provide these simple but essential judicial services swiftly. It would drastically reduce the backlog at the state courts. With their performance and quality of adjudication, these private courts may prompt the state courts to improve their own image.

Over decades, private companies moved into education, water supply and health care as the state failed to perform in these sectors. Now is the time for Pakistani tycoons to move into the business of maintaining law and order and administration of justice.

Free enterprise and competition compel the cell phone companies in Pakistan to offer the best price and the best service to their poorest consumers.

The market forces would compel the private sector to guarantee true administration of justice in Pakistan.

Related Links:

Crises Worsen Class Divide in Pakistan

Are India and Pakistan Failed States?

Eleven Days in Karachi

Armed and Dangerous: Private Police on the March

Pakistan Telecom Boom

US-induced Privatization of Security in Pakistan

Jinnah's Pakistan Booms Amidst Doom and Gloom

Incompetence Worse Than Corruption

Creative Financing of Pakistan's Energy Projects

Pakistan's Energy Crisis

Light Candles, Do Not Curse Darkness

Taliban Exploiting Class Rifts in Pakistan

Water Scarcity in Pakistan

Salman Ahmed Rocks Silicon Valley

Life Goes On in Pakistan

Pakistan's Higher Education Reform


Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Daily Beast Op Ed by former British PM Gordon Brown on TTP attacks against schoolgirls and teacher in Pakistan:

As pupils gathered early on Saturday to receive exam results, grenades were hurled into the Baldia town school in Karachi, causing carnage. Principal Abdur Rasheed died on the spot. The perpetrators are thought to be from TPP, a Taliban terrorist sect, as their campaign of violence against girls education moves from the tribal areas into Pakistan's largest city.

The latest attack follows the murder earlier this week in the Khyber tribal district of Shahnaz Nazli, a 41-year-old teacher gunned down in front of one of her children only 200 meters from the all-girls school where she taught. But this time the wave of terror attacks – orchestrated by opponents of girls' education – is provoking a domestic and international response, a groundswell of public revulsion similar to that which followed the attempted assassination of Malala Yousefvai, who was also shot simply for wanting girls to go to school.

Today, on top of a a petition now circulating on calling for a cessation of violence against teachers who are defending the right of girls to go to school, a scholarship fund in honor of the slain Shahnaz Nazli is being announced. Education International, the world teachers organization with 30 million members, has said that the scholarship memorial to Shahnaz will support Pakistan teachers and students victimized simply because of their support for girls' schooling.

The petition and the memorial signal a fight back against attempts to ban girls’ education, and come in the wake of the intervention of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who, in a special communique, has spoken out against the shooting of Shahnaz and given his personal support to teachers persecuted for their advocacy of girls’ education.

This week's attacks are, however, a stark reminder to the world of the persistence of threats, intimidation, shootings, arson attacks and sometimes even murder that are the Taliban’s weapons in a war against girls’ opportunity.

Last October, shocked by the attempted assassination of Malala Yousafzai and pressured by a petition signed by three million people, the Pakistani government agreed for the first time to legislate compulsory free education and provided stipends for three million children.

Now authorities in Pakistan are under international pressure to deploy their security services to ensure the safety and protection of teachers and girls trying to go to school.

Last October’s demonstrations were a spontaneous response from girls who identified with Malala’s cause as she fought for her life in Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Now these girls are being joined by a high-profile campaign by teachers themselves, determined, despite the threat to their lives, to stand up for girls' education and to take their campaign even to the most dangerous of places

But as the forthcoming teachers’ initiative and the the UN Secretary General’s vocal support both demonstrate, the voices in favor of these basic rights for girls cannot any longer be silenced. And because this is a movement that is now being forged at the grassroots by girls demanding their human rights and by teachers organizing in support of them, 2013, which has started with so many violent attacks on girls schools, can still become the year when the cause of universal girls education becomes unstoppable.
Riaz Haq said…
Dubai close second to London for foreign buyers. Here's a report on Dubai real estate in 2014:

Dubai, 18 February 2014 - Renewed demand from domestic and overseas buyers seeking Dubai property assets is a sign of increasing interest in Dubai's improving real estate market, according to leading international real estate consultancy Cluttons.
Strong interest in Emaar's newly launched Lila and Yasmin properties at Arabian Ranches, Bahrain-based Ravi Pillai Group's plans to invest USD$1.5 billion into two real estate projects in Business Bay and Downtown, and the USD$1.9 million investment by Chow Tai Food Endowment Industry Investment Development (Group) Ltd in serviced apartments, high-end residences and two five-star hotels at Dubai Pearl, illustrate the growing appetite for real estate investment from intuitional investors who have been largely absent since the market rebounded.

Faisal Durrani, Associate - residential and international research at Cluttons comments on the depth of buyer demand in Dubai: "The launch of Yasmin demonstrates the domestic interest in established communities like Arabian Ranches, which feature completed infrastructure that are expanding in areas south of Dubai. Villa communities tend to be limited to a few hundred villas in order to create a sense of exclusivity and deliver on the promise of 'gated communities'. We expect to see more such 'bolt-on' schemes launched, as developers expand prominent communities and focus on areas that are well established."

The recent report on buyer activity released by the Dubai Land Department highlights the appetite for real estate assets in Dubai that extends well beyond the UAE, with 162 nationalities committing to Dubai's bricks and mortar during 2013.
Durrani continued: "Unsurprisingly, Indian nationals topped the list of the city's most active buyers, with Dubai often viewed in the same league as London by this group. The relative geographic proximity to India and the large non-resident Indian population in the region are two further critical drivers for those looking to park their Rupees in Dubai's real estate market. And now we're seeing the demand base broadening from individuals to institutional players. Britons and Pakistani nationals rounded off the top three nationalities that purchased property in Dubai last year."

This is further evidenced in Cluttons International Private Capital Survey 2013/14 which was released late last year. The survey found that within the region, Dubai ranks ahead of other global real estate investment destinations.
Cluttons surveyed nine global locations across the Middle East and Asia-Pacific region and although London ranked as the go-to investment destination by the world's wealthy, Dubai came in a close second, up from seventh place a year earlier....
Riaz Haq said…
The ‘gangs’ of the Indus
Populations in the Kacha areas are one of the most neglected ones in Pakistan. Very little has changed in their lives

The stories that we read and hear about the Indus delta, generally known as Kacha in the Seraiki region and upper Sindh, are stories of crime. These areas get brief attention when ‘encounters’ between the police and robbers occur, or when the police launch operations to ‘clean up’ the region. Having walked through and travelled extensively in this region for about half a century, I find, regrettably, the stories to be half-truths and one-sided. There is some inconvenient truth about the region that needs to be told and simply, it is in three words: injustice, neglect and inequality.

True, there are gangs of dacoits who have presence here and might be involved in crimes. The question is: why is this the case? It is unfair to talk only about the robbers — who are not good enough to hide their crimes and commit them in the open — and ignore the very respectable power holders of the past and present who have plundered the country beyond imagination. We are too weak to talk against the extortion mafias in the big cities, the land grabbers and the very corrupt elite that have continuously pushed up the ranking of Pakistan among the most corrupt countries in the world. The point is that as long as they continue to dominate our politics and power system from the local to the national level as they do, injustice in society will continue to produce gangs around the Indus and up to the mountains of Balochistan.

Take justice as a broader term — giving people their due rights, privileges and facilities as citizens. The most basic need and very important to their existence as a civilised people is education. Everything else tails this basic public function of the state which is meant to give every child an opportunity to make the best of his or her talent. The populations in the Kacha areas are one of the most neglected ones in Pakistan. Very little has changed in their lives. Basic facilities like roads, schools and basic healthcare centres either do not exist or are just ‘ghosts’. One may spot some of these generally empty structures serving as guesthouses for locally influential persons. There is no evidence of even sporadic action against ‘ghost’ teachers and their bosses in the district education offices. They are the real dacoits, along with their political bosses, who extend patronage to them.

I wish to quote from one of my stories I wrote three years back, “The dacoit’s dream”. A social mobiliser from Lahore had the task of travelling to the delta, talking to people and setting up a school. On one of his first trips, one of the notorious dacoits of the Ghotki area stopped him on his way. A fearless and devoted person to the educational cause, he was not deterred by the presence of the dacoit or dissuaded by the fear of being kidnapped while in the proverbial hornets’ nest. In that moment, his only thoughts were whether this was the end of his mission and maybe his life.

“The dacoit asked him questions about what he was doing in his domain — the Kacha areas. When he learnt about a school being conceived in the nearby locality, he began to beg the mobiliser for a school for his community. In a beseeching tone, he said he wanted his son to go to school, to be educated and to never follow in his footsteps. The dacoit received the promise of a school and a facility was built for his community and many surrounding communities to share. Education and development are the keys, and not just ‘encounters’. And so, what about the big robbers?”
Riaz Haq said…
Criminal Justice Reforms:

Main: 225
Supplementary: 644

1: Criminal Law
2: Pakistan Penal Code
3: Witness Law
4: Control of Narcotics
5: Railways Act
6: Prisons Rules
7: Criminal Prosecution
8: Forensic Act

First time in 74 years by #PTI Govt.

Thank You Prime Minister !


Prime Minister Imran Khan unveiled on Thursday 'Criminal Law and Justice Reforms', terming it a "defining" moment for Pakistan.

Addressing the launching ceremony, Khan said that a country cannot progress without the supremacy of law and justice, adding that the system of judiciary and law given by the English has become obsolete, weakening Pakistan's judicial system.

"This is the reason why Pakistan is divided into two different systems, one for the powerful and another for the poor," he said.

"Today, the system just benefits the elite, while the underprivileged people are in jails.

"It is the responsibility of the state to provide justice to the people of the country," the PM added.

Proposed reforms in criminal laws

Giving the example of the Reko Diq case, he said that if our justice system had been strong, then "we could have earned billions from the project".

He reiterated that over 9 million Pakistanis abroad are the country's assets, but are "scared of investing in the country because of the lack of the rule of law".

"With a proper legal system, we will be able to attract these investments and prevent further loans from the International Monetary Fund.”

However, the PM said, the new legal reforms is Pakistan’s first step in establishing rule of law.

These reforms are the first step towards improving Pakistan’s criminal justice system and ensuring justice for the people who deserve it the most, the PM said.

"Responsibility now rests with the judiciary and the lawyers to implement these reforms."

Earlier, Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem and Parliamentary Secretary of Law and Justice Maleeka Ali Bokhari briefed participants on the legal reforms that are being introduced.

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