Moving beyond words

The comments of new IG Punjab Javed Iqbal about the urgency to change the thana culture, though highly important have been spoken and heard many times before. The term thana culture is a catchy rhetorical device, but rarely a serious effort has been made to put an end to the scourge that has become a big source of insecurity for the public.Mian Shahbaz Sharif seems quite worried about the way the department performs, and even raised the salaries but to no avail. Thana culture remains a cancer that would not change unless an impeccable system of checks and balances is put in place. Policemen behave the way they do because they know that at the end of the day they would not be held accountable. A traffic warden lining his pockets with bribe in broad daylight or an errant SHO running a torture cell inside the police station are instances that are only the tip of the iceberg. The absence of a sound accountability mechanism has rendered the police a law unto themselves. A police station is the last place where a common man would dare approach. While for the civilians the filing of an FIR is next to impossible, it has become a tool of suppression in the hands of policemen, who use it frequently to serve their own ends. Little wonder, police stations have turned into hotspots of crime and anti-social activities. There is no dearth of news stories, in which the police is found to be colluding with criminals in acts of robberies. This is a reality that cannot be ignored.Great importance must be attached to the recruitment process, training and discipline, and the unbridled power of policemen curtailed. A day-to-day monitoring system of course is going to help a lot. It remains to be seen how Mian Shahbaz Sharif or IG Javed Iqbal are going to address these issues