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Criminals in uniform.


The confession of a policeman arrested this week in Karachi that he was involved in over 20 robberies is disturbing and provides one more proof that those entrusted with the enforcement of law are fast becoming its worst offenders.

In fact, several such cases have surfaced of late linking policemen to crime. One policeman was reportedly found involved in a Rs 13-million robbery, another was discovered to be the leader of a gang of thieves while a sub-inspector was caught travelling in a stolen car with an unlicensed pistol.

Then last month, in Lahore, police at the city's ant-car lifting cell were alleged to be involved in a scam through which recovered stolen cars were sold to spare parts or scrap dealers.

Although action is taken sometimes against such bad eggs, the effectiveness of internal inquiries is open to question, given that such measures do little more than result in a transfer or a temporary suspension as a form of punishment.

Last year, a 13-year-old boy in Karachi took his own life after he was sexually assaulted by two policemen after being stopped at a picket near his home. Last year, an even more tragic and gruesome case involving the rape and death of two girls surfaced and again their families accused some policemen of the heinous crime.

As usual, after the initial hue and cry, the matter was quietly hushed up. What has happened as a result is that the police's credibility in the public eye is so low that it cannot be expected to conduct an impartial inquiry when such incidents occur.

Hence, in addition to internal inquiries leading to the prosecution of the offenders (which often suffers because of lack of proof or witnesses), the public safety commissions as envisaged by the police order of 2002 should be activated. That body can be expected to act as an independent monitor.