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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Expand the police force By S. Abbas Raza

Thoughtful words. Is anyone paying attention? I think today there is nobody around to bell the cat. So there has to be a rethink on reducing the Army's budget as Raza suggests. Even some out of box thinking. So here... Instead of asking it to reduce its budget, the Faujis should be asked to 'supervise' the creation of an effective police force out of its budget allocations.

Let it help the local police commissions select, train, improve and supervise police operations. With improved pay, living conditions and training, they would stabilise the law and order free fall in the country and simultaneously would enable a leaner army to act more effectively. ~~t

* Sectarian violence is growing unabated. Business is fearful and the economy in tatters. Many of those with resources are making plans to migrate. Meanwhile, terrorist organisations freely launch attacks at home and abroad, with the government unable to provide security even in the capital.

* We have already demonstrated we possess a credible nuclear deterrent... India is a fast-growing economic giant, focused on lifting itself out of poverty....The Kashmir issue can and should be resolved through diplomatic pressure and international support.

* In any case, we must ask ourselves whether the well-being of 170 million Pakistanis can be forever held hostage to the fate and future of the Muslim community in Indian-held Kashmir, especially after more than 60 years of support has not improved the situation for them one jot, but has led to disastrous results for us.

* The idea that the army can somehow defend the country against this lawlessness is ludicrous. How can the armoured corps help fight sectarian car-bombings in Karachi? How will yet another squadron of F-16 aircraft defeat the drug smugglers in Lahore? How does the infantry do the detective work necessary to bring kidnappers and carjackers to justice? How can the army deal with the creators of mayhem that are thoroughly dispersed within our population, in every town and every city? It cannot. Yet the armed forces consume a hugely disproportionate share of Pakistan’s federal budget.

* So, here is my suggestion: reduce the size of the Pakistan armed forces by a third, and use the money saved to dramatically increase the police budget. Currently defence spending is 20 per cent of the federal budget, while slightly over one per cent is spent on policing. This move will allow at least a six- to seven-fold increase in the police budget. Give our brave police the salary, equipment, training and manpower they need to bring law and order back to our cities and towns. They are the ones paying the highest price in terms of lives, and they are the only ones with a chance of controlling the proliferation of weapons and our epidemic of crime and terrorism. Expand the police force - By S. Abbas Raza


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