Hopefully this is more than a symbolic act
Cleaning out the ranks
Gen Raheel Sharif has taken a courageous step to remove eight army officers from service; including a Lt. Gen, a Major General, five Brigadiers and three Colonels on charges of corruption. Hopefully this would be the beginning of a process of cleansing the army of personnel responsible for damaging the institution’s image. If followed consistently, this would improve discipline and promote professionalism. The army has been criticized in the past for shielding corrupt officers from laws applied to the rest of the population on the plea that the army had a strict discipline which made corruption impossible in its ranks. It was also maintained that the army had a strict accountability system which promptly punished anyone violating the law. The argument was untenable in the presence of damaging evidence about a number of high ranking army officers who had turned into billionaires.
The announcement will put pressure on the government which has failed to provide a satisfactory explanation of how the Prime Minister’s children managed to accumulate billions in property abroad. Despite demands from the opposition and media the government has continued to dodge the formation of an independent mechanism of enquiry for nearly a fortnight thus adding more suspicions to those already persisting.
The opposition is unanimous over two demands: a probe by the incumbent CJ and forensic audit by a reputable international auditing body. The government which is to defend itself insists on appointing an enquiry commission headed by a retired judge of its own choice following TORS formulated by the government itself. This is against norms of natural justice. There is a need on the part of the government to immediately call upon the CJ in writing to preside over the proposed commission. The opposition parties meanwhile should work out the TORS through mutual consultation. In case the government remains adamant this would cause confusion and political confrontation which would harm both the government and the system.
Using the police effectively
And protecting it
There’s a lot to be said about the Karachi Operation when unidentified gunmen can spray dozens of bullets on a police contingent deployed to protect polio workers; killing seven policemen on the spot. That this happened in broad daylight, in front of scores of witnesses, only drives in the point that a lot more needs to be done before the country’s financial hub and port city can be declared truly ‘cleansed’ of militancy. But that, of course, is not to imply that the police force has not performed to the best of its capability.
It is true though that this capability would have been considerably enhanced if relevant authorities had taken the right steps at the right time. Ordinarily, one would expect the police force to be up to scratch at all times. Yet even if ours was not, it should still have been upgraded ahead of the ambitious “Operation”. Resultantly the Operation has lost its sting. And while mostly petty crime has decreased, and there are fewer instances of kidnapping, etc, the city cannot be considered safe for ordinary citizens if those mandated to protect them are still vulnerable.
Unfortunately if history is any guide, there is little chance of things really improving on ground. After all, somebody must have been responsible for ensuring that units patrolling the city – especially those deployed with polio teams that have been attacked for years – are provided minimum security. Still, they were without helmets or bullet proof vests. And it’s not as if such incidents have not prompted similar soul searching in the past. It is just that nobody seems bothered a day or two after the attack, when things invariably revert to the so called ‘normal’. If the police force is still not effective, those calling the shots and controlling the government must take the blame. They must also realise that any force can be used effectively only when its own protection is first guaranteed.