Policing: Oversight Versus Interference

J. J. Baloch


Mixing politics with police oversight makes the dangerous interference in police working. Attaining the goal of effective and knowledgeable civilian democratic oversight by the police organisations in Pakistan is as important as doing away with undue interference in police practice and culture. Neither our own individual whims nor yet our likes or dislikes should ever govern our professional conduct as police officers.

The rule of law, due process, human rights, and high values of public service should lead police as guiding principles. Interference of any kind whether political or administrative may not be confused with democratic and judicial oversight. However, the difference between legitimate mechanisms to oversee police working is different from bureaucratic and political interference which needs to be resisted as a bad practice in law enforcement.

“The difference between ‘bureaucrats with guns’ and law enforcement officers is simple: police are supposed to be prohibited equally from the pursuit of their own desires and from acting on the whim of politicians. Unlike civil servants, they are not supposed to respond to ‘political masters’. Their job, simply, is to enforce the law.”

Commissioner Hughes APEC Report” (2001) Canada

“Police accountability is defined as a system of internal and external checks and balances aimed at ensuring that police carry out their duties properly and are held responsible if they fail to do so. Such a system is meant to uphold police integrity and deter misconduct and to restore or enhance public confidence in policing. Police integrity refers to normative and other safeguards that keep police from misusing their powers and abusing their rights and privileges.”

Handbook on police accountability, oversight and integrity by UNITED NATION, New York, 2011

Police Services in Pakistan have a richer and more varied experience of political as well as administrative interference. In Pakistan and India, the Britishers established police institution after the war of independence in 1857 with a pronounced purpose to control the public resistance against their regime. Therefore, police remained the instrument of coercion since its very birth in sub-continent. Deputy commissioners or District Magistrates, who were otherwise the revenue officers, were mandated to oversee the police department. Internal as well as external oversight of police had been one of their primary functions. The Police Act 1861 institutionalised this setting. The Torture Commission Report 1855 speaks volumes of police torture in Sub-continent. It is a mirror which shows the real face of the blood-stained regime and the police serving it. More or less Pakistan after its independence continued with same policing legacy, police station culture and police mindsets until Police Order 2002 came into play which claimed a paradigm shift in policing models of Pakistan but it is yet to do away with the colonial police legacy of the yester years.

The Police Order 2002 is a well-crafted state of the art document which is referred as the policing commandments based on the democratic ideals, seeking the establishment of Public Safety Commission, Police Complaint Authority and also putting police department under the elected District Nazism or city Mayors. The negative part of the PO 2002 was the circumstances in which it came into fashion. The authoritarian regime claimed to ensure democratic police oversight and system to control police excesses. Unfortunately, this democratic gospel birthed by the military regime could not sustain the democratic jerks afterwards when Musharaf’s government was no more on the political horizons of Pakistan.


Policing experimentation goes on in Pakistan. Balochistan and Sindh undid PO 2002 while Punjab and KP are redoing it. KP leads in police innovations as Police Ordinance 2016 has allowed greater administrative autonomy to police and has sought to establish an appropriate mechanism for the democratic oversight of police. In Punjab, Administrative Act 2016 is an attempt to revert to bureaucratic police oversight of colonial era. Deputy Commissioner is again empowered to oversee the police. However, to many analysists of governance, PAA 2016 appears to be a boxing behind the smoke screen and an attempt to control police for using them as an instrument of coercion for political motives such as victimising opponents, suppressing dissent, and manoeuvring elections. There is a lot fishy in it. However, a system of proper democratic oversight for police is yet to take shape in Pakistan.


Many international and national police organisations have gone too far ahead in ensuring the appropriate system of external as well as internal police oversight. It is a practice worldwide that primary agency of policing the police is police leadership. There are specific legislations which are required to specify police roles, functions, powers and the limits. Some developing countries like Kenya have established independent Police Oversight Authorities with a clear mandate. However, like Crime Commissioners in England, Mayor in Metropolitan city of London, Police Governance association of Canada, Public safety Canada, American Sheriffs and in many East Asian countries the oversight mandate rests with elected, not bureaucratic, institutions. Anyone who has no mandate but use nuisance to influence police for doing and for not doing certain things which police is not required to do legally and professionally he or she tries to interfere in police work which is a grave disservice to the public. Police must resist such interference at all costs whatsoever.

“Robust accountability structures compose one of the three basic requirements for democratic policing—the others being legitimacy and professionalism.”

(Marenin, O. (2005). Building a global police studies community. Police Quarterly, page 102-136)

In the democratic police oversight, the Canadian model is believed to be the best. The literature on democratic oversight models tells us that Canadians have gone far ahead in ensuring democratic best practices of police governance through the establishment of independent police commissions and boards which are elected and mandated for this exclusive job.  “Governance of policing requires time and in-depth understanding of policing from a citizen perspective, not a professional nor political one.” The basic function of these police commissions is to consult the community and to take their feedback on how police behave, work, deliver, and run their show. Police Boards and commissions never consult or bother the cheerleaders, vested interest groups, police puppets, and advertisers of social problems to talk to the police or give their polluted opinions which serve nothing except promoting inefficiency and culture of favouritism at the very cost of the police themselves as well as the public.


Oversight or interference are fundamental benchmarks of what we understand as ‘good governance’. For enabling police to take full responsibility for both the doings as well as the wrongdoings and for attaining the high degree of professional integrity, it is strategic to offer police required autonomy, proper direction, appropriate resources, advanced training both in skills as well as ethics of law enforcement, and encouraging working environment. Police are to perform the diverse functions of controlling the irritants against social order, public peace and law enforcement.

Therefore, the efforts to ensure democratic oversight must include neutralisation of undemocratic and authoritarian elements, institutionalisation of civilian democratic and communitarian controls over the police, visible improvements in service delivery mechanism by ensuring easy access and quick response to the public, adoption of transparency in the procedures of accountability and also containing corrupt and criminal practices in police department.

The Writer is a policing educator and practitioner. 


Outsmarting the Terrorists

J. J. Baloch


Clarke, Ronald V. and Graeme R. Newman in their classic discourse titled Outsmarting the Terrorists (2006) make very insightful revelations for the police as to how to go about in putting up a counterterrorism mechanism against the possibilities and likelihoods of terrorist attacks in a befitting manner. Police here in Pakistan need to make the most of such thoughtful literature by applying it to their own specific circumstances, they are to work within.   

Though the terrorists are ordinary people, yet their innovations in criminality is their best defence. Understanding the mind of the terrorist is of vital importance in our efforts to outsmart them. To say that terrorists are mediocre does not equal to underestimating them but rather to rationalising them. Thinking terrorists is key to success because of the terrorists while planning their actions think cops and hence decode our security visions and penetrate successfully.

Being ordinary terrorists have ordinary needs and ordinary limitations that can be exploited. “They make decisions about their missions just as we make decisions about the tasks we carry out each day in our work and home environments.  Terrorists must decide on their choice of target, how they will reach it, what tools they will need, and which weapons will do the job. In any given situation for any particular terrorist act, these decisions are extremely difficult because the circumstances that prevail in the place and time of the mission provide both opportunities for success and limitations on what the terrorist can achieve.”


For a terrorist to act it is very important to have direction, training, target survey, strike, necessary support to stay and hide and  obtain the weapon as well as explosives, transport them, keep them, and use them. With all this, they do plan for their escape routes. They never wish to be caught. Therefore, as a cop we should take countermeasures by thinking terrorists and identifying ourselves the likely and possible targets in our areas, shortlist them as per their profiles in terms of public loss dynamics, highlight probable and possible accesses to targeted places, understand the likely modes of terrorists entry into place in point, guess the suspect transport or vehicle, predict suitable weapon to be used by the terrorists keeping in view the nature of target and effectiveness of the weapon, and the exit routes.

It is rightly regretted in security circles that the poor defences offer terrorists an opportunity to strike and make it possible to hit the target in much easier way. The example of recent Sehwan attack at the mausoleum of Sufi saint Lal Qalandar Shahbaz made it clear to many as to how poor security arrangements play hell with everything. Similarly, better security arrangements on PSL final at Lahore succeeded in neutralising the terrorist threat. Equally true is the fact that the attacks on the World Trade Center ‘were made possible by poor defences’. “The first attack of the 1990s took advantage of poor security in the parking garage beneath the Twin Towers, which made them accessible to the truck bomb. The second successful attack of 2001 took advantage of lax airport security, which had been implemented on the assumption that those hijacking an airliner were not prepared to die doing so.”It is here we think naive and bound to suffer losses.


Very unfortunate with law enforcement in Pakistan is their short memory. Despite repeated threat alerts following the similar shrine attacks which had already taken places at different points of time in Shah Noorani in Balochistan, Abdullah Shah Ghazi in Karachi, Data Darbar at Lahore and also attacks on police officers on security duty as for example suicide attack on Malik Saad CCPO Peshawar and on DIG Cap. Ahmad Mubeen at charring Cross Lahore, our security stalwarts were seen disillusioned and misdirected in ensuring the security of the public as well as the law enforcement community from the possible targets of the terrorists.

From above analysis, it comes out that there are a number of vulnerabilities that make some targets more attractive and easier than the others. Terrorists do not go for random targets. It is very important for law enforcement agencies to comprehend and to note down. The terrorists contemplate well the specific targets and make exhaustive surveys to avoid mistakes and failures because they are fully sensitised with the fact that once failed after a lot of hard work on planning and surveying the next targets will be much harder for them to execute if failed in the previous ones of similar nature. Therefore, the terrorists run very little risks for failure.

“The common cry that ‘We can’t protect everything’ is based on a false premise that terrorists choose their targets randomly. It is true that we cannot protect everything, but it is also true that we do not have to protect everything. Terrorists face tough decisions, just as we do. They must decide which targets to attack, and they must choose them based on their estimate of success, which is, in turn, informed by the availability of the weapons, tools, and conditions that will allow them to complete their mission. Furthermore, they operate for the most part in a hostile environment, one in which they are the hunted, particularly if they are trying to mount an operation in a foreign country a long way from their home base.”


Strategies to pre-empt terrorist attack at possible targets bring home the facts that the terrorists, though very passionate, motivated and driven by impulse and anxiety, are not super humans to escape the better security strategies because in some ways they need logistics such as weapons, explosives, tools, transports, and community support to carry out their attacks.

The Police departments which have the close working relationships with local communities can exploit such strategic edge against the terrorists and also can stand a better chance of stopping terrorists from reaching their specified targets. “The harder a target is to reach, the more esoteric and innovative are the tools and weapons needed to reach it.

“It follows that the harder the target, the more difficult the planning, and the greater the resources needed to support the operation.” Such circumstance of heightened security can disappoint the terrorists not only in immediate target strike but will surely go a long way in depressing the terrorist for their future endeavours too.


The Writer is a policing educator and practitioner.



The Fear of Fear

J. J. Baloch


The constant threat of terrorism has converted the world of ours into a creepy scream house where people, in its every nook and corner, appear to have been overwhelmed by the fear phobia of something cataclysmic, unpredictable, and imminent to happen and to destroy their lives. This has paralysed the real taste of life and progress made by human beings. It needs a fair and square attention at all levels.

During Great depression in the second quarter of the 20th century the President of United States of America, Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to remind Americans that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyses needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Many term fear of fear as Phobophobia which is driven from Greek origin of Phobos meaning fear and phobia also means fear. This phenomenon has become much more real in the 21st century due to terrorist threat megalomania.

Fear of fear is not only a conceptual scenario but a real world challenge. In human history, it has been noticed that it has never been a fear but the fear of fear which has played havoc with the public at large. Every individual does have his or her fears which do not necessarily grow into a monster or disaster unless people at large begun to share it and own it as a collective fear because it is the common fear of fear which disappoints the people of any hope to feel safe anywhere. Today’s digital connectivity has multiplied the fears through rumour and misinformation, causing many psychological disorders, emotional imbalances, popular panics, demographic disturbances, and ideological anarchy.


Today fear of fear governs not only us as humans but also a leading agent of socio-cultural and political changes. People do not fear to take the biggest of risks as climbing to very high mountains, skydiving, car racing, and many other such activities the way they feel horrified of terrorist threat worldwide. “In fact, people worry far more about the truly tiny risk of being killed by terrorists than they do about the much greater risk of being killed in a car crash or some other accident.”

This type of fearing the fear feeling comes when man-made laws and systems lose their credibility to live up to what they are for. If a citizen of any country is repeatedly reminded that there is a threat and it is of its own kind as well as the gravest of all because that threat is to come from fellow humans, not from nature. Earthquakes, floods and other human disasters do not destroy the people the way the feeling of being insecure against the crime and terror which are to originate not because of geological and environmental reasons but because of human reasons.

Fear of crime is more potent a factor than the crime itself. It is so because actual crime affects only a handful of people who become victims of it but fear of being the next victim overwhelm the entire populations for longer periods. The “same disconnect between risk and fear holds for the crime. Fear of crime increased steadily in the last two decades of the 20th century (the 1980s & 1990s) while reported crime declined steadily”.

Almost similar link exist between public fear and terrorism objectives. Terrorists always try to magnify even their small acts of adventurism by publicising themselves as the superhuman. By so doing they create and cultivates the fear of the unknown in the public. Terrorists keep us on our toes by issuing threats for one thing and planning an attack for other making themselves invincible and unstoppable. Media create sensation and exaggerate things to make their news spicy. This, in turn, makes public believes that their governments are helpless to protect their communities.

Media starts glorifying terrorists portraying them as magic men not because media wishes people to get confused but because this is what people want media to show them and this is what people wait to see in papers and on TV. Media conditioning of the fear of the fear is a natural corollary of public demand. Therefore media is always interested in making storeys than telling the truth of what the terrorists can actually do and what they cannot do!


On the contrary, media presents government agencies in utter dismay and confusion at the times of national emergencies. In Pakistan, this is truer than anywhere else in the world. Wherever and whenever any natural or man-made disasters have visited Pakistan, media comes on humanitarian issues at the last but starts with criticising government agencies concerned with that particular type of emergency. First media gets started with identifying the inadequate arrangements for meeting the emergency relief operations. Sometimes Media bombard food department for not having stocked well. Many times they blame police and district administration for their poor response and delayed action together with security lapses in case of any security breach or terrorist attack. Very often begin the story of government corruption for having been responsible for everything evil under the sun. What they basically do is more and more fear for future. Terrorists stand glorified while governments demoralised and public panicked.

However, in all kind of emergencies, the media should play fair and square and avoid settling old scores with some specific individuals sitting at the top of that particular department. Media must display greater national responsibility in inculcating the confidence and trust among the people about their governments and the available services together with identifying the limits so that the public may not go out of control knowing that they are deprived of basic human rights and facilities.

“The more frightened we are, the more successful the terrorists will be judging their attacks. Not only does undue fear lower our quality of life but, it also “limits our intellectual and moral capacities, it turns us against others, it changes our behaviour and our perspective and it makes us vulnerable to those who would control us to promote their own agendas.”


The fear of fear so generated, no doubt, increases the work and responsibilities of the law enforcement agencies especially the police. At the same time, this state of fear raises the public profile of police. Media gets you on the air almost every time to talk to your area public to invigorate their faith in the capability of the system to raise equal to the challenges facing the country. You will be regularly called to talk to human rights programs, media talk shows, morning shows on TV, magazine interviews and features, Chamber of commerce, NGOs, village Panchayat, notables, trade unions, industrial associations, and others who have a direct or indirect stake in public peace.

Even minority communities will seek assurances that they will be protected from hate crimes and that they will not be singled out unfairly by the police.  You will work with local businesses and corporations to improve their security.  And you will have to consult with hospitals, clinics, and schools (whether they are under municipal control or not) to ensure that they are doing all they can to protect themselves.

Managing fear is indeed very taxing and very costly. It can lead governments to spend billions of Rupees/ Dollars on the security and crime fighting which is not a good omen.  It is aptly remarked by very seasoned criminal justice expert that a false sense of insecurity is far more dangerous than the false sense of security. False sense of security leads to destruction in many spheres of life ranging from wasting manpower and resources to losing civil liberties at the hands of more powerful and more mandate expanded police force.

Fear of fear can vanish only when the fear industry is choked. Governments are yet to find counter-fear mechanisms so do are the communities and smaller groups. Democracies are quite silent on this very intricate issue of doing away with the culture of fear of fear. Ironically, countries like Pakistan are keeping criminal silence on addressing these vital issues of greater public and national importance. Let us join hand to not fear the fear of fear anymore and to build stronger resilience in the society.


The Writer is a policing educator and practitioner.

The Birth of Terrorism

J. J. Baloch


Our society stands chilled with the uninterrupted reign of terror. It is commonplace and global phenomenon. Terrorism stands as the gravest challenge to the modern state, democracy and humanity at large –a cause championed by non-state actors. We as the police must ensure justice, order, and fair treatment through due process of law together with shining the light on what divides us as well as what unites us against the challenges of growing intolerance in our society.

“The history of terrorism is as old as humans’ willingness to use violence to affect politics. The Sicarii were a first-century Jewish group who murdered enemies and collaborators in their campaign to oust their Roman rulers from Judea. The Hashshashin, whose name gave us the English word “assassins,” were a secretive Islamic sect active in Iran and Syria from the 11th to the 13th century… Subdue by terror the enemies of liberty, and you will be right, as founders of the Republic. Robespierre’s sentiment laid the foundations for modern terrorists, who believe violence will usher in a better system,” writes Amy Zalman in “The History of Terrorism” March 23, 2017, in Thoughtco.com online.

Terrorism in modern sense dates back to French revolution in the 18th century. It was at that time that those who carried out vandalism against the state and society were declared as ‘terrorists’. After that Hitler of Germany declared all Jews as conspirators, traitors and terrorists who according to him had eaten into the vitals of German glory. As a consequence of this presumption, Hitler carried out what has come down to us as ‘holocaust’ during the second quarter of the 20th century. During same time Joseph Stalin of Soviet Union was carrying out the massacre of millions of the people on the pretext of their being against his communist regime as he had declared them terrorists. Many other dictators afterwards in different parts of the world kept on killing their opponents in the name of terrorism.

Therefore, the terrorism was birthed in politics. Those who were not happy with coercive regimes and opposed them tooth and nail for bringing a political change to the extent of using all forms of violence were declared as the agents of terror, disorder and anarchy. Or those who stood for democracy and freedoms against the dictators were designated as terrorists.

In political thought as well as in practice the struggle between the forces of authority and the agents of liberty have been commonplace in all parts of the world. This race of authority and liberty reached its pinnacles during the 20th century. Their worst of races emerged in the socio-political phenomena like extreme freedoms and absolute authority. Freedom when reaches extremes get transformed into anarchy while the authority when out limits its legitimacy becomes the tyranny. For anarchy, people are charge-sheeted while on the other side for tyranny, the blame goes to the state. Only rulers can be tyrants, not their citizenry and vice versa. However, both these conditions and extremes are the father and mother of their son terrorism.

Sometimes, the rulers declare their citizens as terrorists and sometimes the citizens declare their rulers as terrorists who rule through coercion. Political violence which is the soul of terrorism is common in both opposite phenomena. Therefore, when dictators killed, they killed in the name of order and when people rampaged and resorted to violence against their regime, they did it in the name of bringing the better system which promises better protection of their civil liberties. Everyone may be familiar with the terms i.e. state-sponsored terrorism, non-state actors ‘ terrorism, militant insurgencies, religious extremism, cross-border terrorism, global terrorism and many other similar terms which reveal the different versions of violence in the modern world.

The hibernated terrorism gets out of the box of state-citizen bond when this bond breaks into pieces due to jerks of the contractual violations on the part of the either of the two signatories- the state and the citizen. “Scholars dispute whether the roots of terrorism date back to the 1st century and the Sicarii Zealots, and to the 11th century and the Al-Hashshashin.” In 1798 we saw Irish terrorism in the shape of Fenians, the young Ire-Landers’ Rebellion as the glaring example of the point in focus. This was followed by Irish Republic Army (IRA) which was founded by Eamon de Valera in 1916. Irish people were not happy with how they were being treated as an ethnic entity within the political dispensation of the United Kingdom which had a long history and tradition of keeping the ethnic and national entities suppressed and slaves during their exploitative colonial regimes worldwide. Almost same was the nature of Narodnaya Volya a rebellious group who carried out bombings in Russian Empire during 1878 to 1883, assassinating their own king, Tsar Alexander II in 1881. Narodnaya Volya greatly influenced Avetis Nazarbekian who founded  Hunchakian Revolutionary Party in 1887 to carry out a rebellious activity against the Ottoman Empire.


The French and then American emerged as the flag bearers of freedom by raising against the violent and repressive regimes of kings and the colonial masters respectively. The French got rid of kingdoms and Americans got independence from the colonial masters through violent revolutions during the second half of 18th century AD. “Other pre-Reign of Terror historical events sometimes associated with terrorism include the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to destroy the English Parliament in 1605.”

The 20th century witnessed the growth and expansion of terrorist organisation in many parts of the world. The commonality in all of them was their struggle against the state apparatus which they had declared illegitimate dominance based on might was right dispensation. The examples of such networks and organisations abound which include Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt in 1928, Irgun and  Lehi –the Jewish terrorist networks of Palestine in 1931 and 1940 respectively, Front De Liberation National of Algeria in 1954, Fatah and Palestinian Liberation Army of Palestine in 1959 and 1964 respectively, Front De Liberation Du Quebec of Canada in 1963, Red Army Faction of Germany in 1968, Weathermen of United States of America in 1969, Italian Red Brigade in 1970, Japanese Red Army 1971, Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka in 1976, Egyptian Islamic Jehad in 1980, Hezbollah of Lebanon in 1982, Hamas of Gaza in 1987, Al-Qaida of Saudi Arabia in 1988,  East Turkestan Liberation Organization of China in 1990, Aum Shinrikyo of Japan in 1990, Lashkar-e-Taiba of Pakistan in 1991 and  Chechnyan Separatists of Russia in 1994. Besides this 21st century addition of Islamic State (IS) or Da’aish is also part of the same chain with a little innovation in fighting modalities, although the fundamental objective remains the same statehood as targets of their violence and moral discourse.


This led to the birth of republics which kept on expanding the world over during the centuries to follow. The republics recognised the fundamental rights of the citizenry to rule themselves and to live a free life under the political systems of their own choosing. The political ideologies developed around the central theme of ‘liberty’ called democracies entered into another showdown with authoritarian regimes of military dictators cloned with nation-states paradigm. The liberty-authority imbalances further fuelled violence in the societies; the lot was said and written on how to balance them.

The liberty-authority showdowns went global in reach and implications after second world war when the cold war started between capitalist and communist blocks of the countries, representing the democracies and dictatorships respectively. The cold war has been the global expression of the problems of statehood and governance. Both the authoritarian and democratic forces continued the create violence and generate divisions as well as conflicts of political ideologies.

The American and Soviets transformed the cold war into a hot war when in 1979 the Soviets invaded and attacked Afghanistan. The Afghan war has been very instrumental in adding new definitions to violence which is later understood as the ‘religious terrorism’. Afghans have groomed that the Soviets were non-Muslims and Infidels who had attacked Islam-a narratives whose architects the Americans decidedly were. Thus, the religion became the political agent of violence after Palatine and Kashmir which were harbouring such terror networks. The Iraq invasion of America added more fuel to fire because this was a total failure which exposed none better than the Western powers especially Americans who invaded Iraq, not for any other purpose except ‘oil’.


In Pakistan struggle between authoritarian and democratic ideals began with long before Pakistan came into existence but rather it started with the ‘ war of independence’ in 1857 when people of India both the Muslims, as well as Hindus and Sikhs, raised their voice against the repressive rule of British colonialists. All those who tried to raise voice were treated as terrorists. Later the people of Indian sub-continent continued their violent engagement with the coercive rule of British colonialists until they realised the independence in 1947.

Pakistan, not the Pakistanis,  got the independence. Pakistan’s state continued with its colonial structure and makeup as the same feudal lords who were hand in glow with the Britishers managed to maintain the power and pelf structure of the society. The feudal not only grabbed the independence of the people but also maintained the same power structure in Pakistan in which these few families had monopolised the sources of wealth and importance. As a result the serious crisis of statehood ensued in which the authoritarian forces remained dominant over the democratic potentials causing long Martial Laws in 1958, 1979, 1977, and 1998 which laid the foundation of the reactionary violence first in the shape of the fall of Bangladesh in 1971 and the emergence of armed struggle called Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) in early 1980s against the dictator Zia-ul-Haq’s repressive policies through the promotion of Madrassa and Mulla culture, restructuring the state narratives through new discourses.

General Zia’s policy of ‘Islamization’ changed the state narrative in Pakistan and stood as a rock against democratic development. The institutionalisation of violence began due to the illegitimacy element within the governance model of Zia. The popular voice was neither heard in any quarter nor yet the rule of the supreme law of the land-constitution- was upheld. This state of affair cultivated hatred, intolerance, and biases on the basis of religion, sect, ethnic group, provincialism, gender, and more, paving the way for violence to grow uninterrupted.

The impacts of continued authoritarianism within the state structure cracked the social and national systems with the continued growth in intolerance and violence in Pakistani society. Followed by Musharaf’s dictatorship, the Pakistan society lost the charm of peace, exposing and making Pakistan vulnerable to terrorist groups who played hell with the weaknesses so caused by the illegitimate regime. This opened the Pandora box of violent extremism and terrorism in our country.

The illegitimacy of governance led to the crisis of statehood which further facilitated political violence which still continues. The recent wave of terrorism during February 2017 was linked to Lal Masjid Islamabad (operation GHAZI) of Jamat ul Ahrar, a militant religious group and many other similar incidents.


Therefore, the roots of terrorism as an expression of political or politically motivated violence, using intimidation, threat and destruction lie entangled in politics and political realm of the deadly power game between the agents of the state and the non-state actors. The appropriate response to challenge must be explored somewhere in the affairs of the state which are designed to address the public sensitivities for peace, progress, fair treatment, protection of their fundamental rights, and justice.

The discussion in point brings home the point that terrorism in Pakistan as in any other part of the world been birthed by the imbalances between the state authority and popular liberties. Those enchained have tried their best to shift paradigm by establishing their nuisance, aura and awe.

Thus, we need to mobilise people by engaging, motivating, and displaying response and responsibility on the part of the state because terrorism hibernates somewhere in the nature of the state citizenry relationship which no other system but democracy alone balances beautifully.  It is perhaps the reason why state declared terrorists have been the freedom fighters of their people.

On the Genetic Criminality

J. J. Baloch


This article, using genetics, tries to explain criminal behaviour in terms of genes and facial features of human beings. Modern crime science very aggressively claims that genes and facial features can be instrumental in understanding and in predicting as to who will commit which crime! Though this connotation might have flabbergasted few but have saddened many to fall victim to this so called infallible machine crime readings.

Being a cop it startles me like anything to believe that there could be some crime or war genes in human body or mind but many crime scientists are struggling to establish this through their modern research on criminal behaviour that such genes do exist. Having the amateurish understanding of the biological make-up of human brain and body, we as the policemen can hardly think that criminals are born but our anecdotes tell us that they are created. However, whether genetic tendencies of crime should be factored into criminal profiling and sentencing or not would constitute to be the leading question of criminal justice research and policy in future.

Our blame or reliance on the environment and social conditions as responsible for criminal behaviour are also owned by the sociological as well as a psychological school of criminal behaviour but the modern research on criminality appears to have tilted more towards verifying and further exploring the claims of the biological school to explain the causes of crime.

“Due to perceived racial bias in previous studies, genetics have been left out of the theoretical equation for analysing and interpreting crime for the past 20 years by most involved in criminological studies… Scientists are quick to warn that social or environmental factors play a meaningful role in whether or not genetic crime-contributors will ever be triggered; however, studies have revealed compelling information.” Poor diet, mental illness, bad brain chemistry, and even evolutionary rewards for aggressive criminal conduct have been proposed by the proponents of the biological constructions of human criminal behaviour.


Criminologists are now interested in understanding as to how genes can increase the risk of committing the crime. Recent studies of criminal behaviour in the US have confirmed that samples of twins and other children were exposed to eight or more environmental risk factors and those samples in which genetic formations of crime were dominated showed 80% tendency towards violence. “In a long-term study of 1,000 babies, children who demonstrated less self-control at three were more likely to commit crimes 30 years later. Despite this, criminologists reassure that there is no such thing as a ‘crime gene’; rather, traits that are linked to aggressive or antisocial behaviour that could lead to crime in certain environments are the subject of research.”

On 28 October 2014 Melissa Hogenboom, a science reporter for BBC referring to the British Journal of Molecular Psychiatry reported that criminologists carried out a study in Finland which had found that  “the association between genes and violence was strongest for repeat violent offenders”. The study explained at least 10% of all violent crime in Finland could be attributed to individuals with these genotypes. According to the finding, two genes in the human body were linked to the violent behaviour.

“The two genes associated with violent repeat offenders were the MAOA gene and a variant of cadherin 13 (CDH13). The MAOA gene codes for the enzyme Monoamine Oxidase A, which is important for controlling the amount of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. CDH13 has previously been associated with substance abuse and ADHD. Those classified as non-violent offenders did not have this genetic profile. A deficiency of the enzyme this controls could result in “dopamine hyperactivity” especially when an individual drinks alcohol or takes drugs such as amphetamines, said Prof Tiihonen. The majority of all individuals who commit a severe violent crime in Finland do so under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”


Media reports on recently disclosed findings of Chinese criminological research awaken many who deals with crime or are the part of criminal justice for their attention to genetic and facial formations of the criminals. Rob Jongschaap an analyst of crime and criminality  writes referring to this study: “In a paper titled ‘Automated Inference on Criminality using Face Images,’ two Shanghai Jiao Tong University researchers say they fed ‘facial images of 1,856 real persons’ into computers and found ‘some discriminating structural features for predicting criminality, such as lip curvature, eye inner corner distance, and the so-called nose-mouth angle.’ They conclude that all four classifiers perform consistently well and produce evidence for the validity of automated face-induced inference on criminality, despite the historical controversy surrounding the topic.”

Automated inference on criminality using face images by Chinese criminologists reads: “We study, for the first time, automated inference on criminality based solely on still face images. Via supervised machine learning, we build four classifiers (logistic regression, KNN, SVM, CNN) using facial images of 1856 real persons controlled for race, gender, age and facial expressions, nearly half of whom were convicted criminals, for discriminating between criminals and non-criminals. All four classifiers perform consistently well and produce evidence for the validity of automated face-induced inference on criminality, despite the historical controversy surrounding the topic. Also, we find some discriminating structural features for predicting criminality, such as lip curvature, eye inner corner distance, and the so-called nose-mouth angle.”

“Above all, the most important discovery of this research is that criminal and non-criminal face images populate two quite distinctive manifolds. The variation among criminal faces is significantly greater than that of the non-criminal faces. The two manifolds consisting of criminal and non-criminal faces appear to be concentric, with the non-criminal manifold lying in the kernel with a smaller span, exhibiting a law of normality for faces of non-criminals. In other words, the faces of the general law-abiding public have a greater degree of resemblance compared with the faces of criminals, or criminals have a higher degree of dissimilarity in facial appearance than normal people…”

Many fear that such crime face readers and half cooked genetic basis for criminality could be very problematic, discriminatory and in many cases very biased on the basis of ethnicity, race, colour, and religion.  “The fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning are moving so quickly that any notion of ethics is lagging decades behind, or left to works of science fiction.” This is what a new study at Shanghai Jiao Tong University tries to establish and explain. How strange it looks to us that now onwards computers can tell whether one will be a criminal based on nothing more than your facial features and genetic makeup. This attempt is closer to the similar bankrupt moral basis of popular psychological theories of last millennia which tried to justify the supremacy of one racial group over another.

“But phrenology, which involved studying the cranium to determine someone’s character and intelligence, was debunked around the time of the Industrial Revolution, and few outside of the pseudo-scientific fringe would still claim that the shape of your mouth or size of your eyelids might predict whether you’ll become a rapist or thief”, Rob J. further argues.

Determining who will commit what type of crime in what circumstances with what genetic composition is a complex analysis. Various academic fields contribute relevant theories that must be understood by the criminologists to advance their understanding of why certain types of people commit certain types of crimes. But could this be possible for anyone to have some certain and definite deductions without ever knowing the ‘motive’ which is cardinal part of any type of crime?

“We’re all products of genetics and the environment but I don’t think that robs us of free will or understanding right and wrong”, says Dr Christopher Ferguson, Stetson University, Florida

Though these new aspects of understanding and explaining crime require more scientific inquiry and scrutiny, yet are very appealing and interesting themes for cops as well as other criminal justice agents. These new ideas of explaining criminality are yet to go a long way in developing a strong theoretical framework based on testable and reliable findings.

The Writer is a policing educator and a novelist…

From the Crime Scene to the Criminal

J. J. Baloch


The criminal investigation needs sophistication in identifying, collecting, preserving and analysing valuable material evidence. As the ill luck would have it, our investigations still rely on traditional methods of evidence collection and badly lack application of scientific method. Our police investigations still depend on what the complainant and the planted witnesses of the case tell our detectives.

Our First Information Report is big misnomer which is very confusing and misguiding document as it takes investigation process in reverse by going from criminal to crime scene with the help of oral statements of planted witnesses in most of the cases. However, this runs counter to modern methods which go from crime scene to criminal relying on material evidence.

When the incident of crime takes place, a victim can approach police station of the area for registration of his complaint and police register First Information Report and start investigations. The investigation is defined as the process of collection of evidence. Evidence is of two major types: Oral or verbal meaning witness statements and Material, signifying all material such as empties of the bullet or ballistic, any document, blood, hair, tyres marks, foot tracks, fingerprints or anything of the same ilk which can be collected from the crime scene- a place where crime occurs. The oral evidence is very weak because if the statements of the witnesses do not tally one another, the case is lost and the accused get benefited and it often happens. Good and reliable evidence is the forensic or material evidence collected from the crime scene and which does not depend on anyone’s statement but on the expert opinion which is highly dependable, admissible and advisable for all detectives in the interest of carrying out quality investigations which can promise proper prosecution and which can ensure satisfactory convictions in the courts of law.


Unfortunately in our country, Pakistan, due to lack of forensic facilities and expertise most of our detectives rely heavily on the version of First Information Reports which limits the scope of investigations by nominations of the accused persons. So they start their investigations confirming whether the nominated accused is actual culprits or not. If they are actual criminals, their lawyers make very tricky cross questions with the witnesses of the incident in the trial court and in many cases the chances of accused of going unpunished highly increase. This happens because of faulty investigations based on weak evidence which limits justice and fairly by going from criminal to crime scene approach.

On the contrary, forensic or material evidence based on the scrutiny of the crime scene applying scientific methods and expert opinion on the material evidence so secured from the scene of the crime can be helpful in achieving better conviction rates and hence have a greater likelihood of serving as a stronger deterrence to crime and criminality. The understanding, securing, sketching, filming, photographing and collecting materials from the scene of the crime to be used and analysed as an evidence for re-construing the crime happening by connecting the chain of materials from different angles, making it sensible, logical and acceptable to human mind exclusively through scientific methods. Such criminal investigations do not require nominations in First Information Reports but start detecting and tracing the original culprits through reliable methods and seek accurate implications by going through crime scene to the criminal.

In Pakistan, however, it was a practice not to incorporate evidence in the FIR some decades earlier. Same is true in developed countries where policing and investigations are carried out in a professional and evidence-based ways. If an incident of Robbery takes place. A short FIR contains only the basic information of incident. For example, “The complainant Aslam has reported that at 11; 05 pm two unknown masked and armed with pistols motorcyclists forcibly stopped me near peacock crossing adjacent to the shopping mall and snatched my cell phone and purse.” This shows everything that is required to define crime and criminal incident i.e. nature of crime-robbery, time and place of incident, and who did what with whom and why? On this police can start investigations and trace the case.

However, nowadays FIRs are not that simple but rather contain unnecessary details such as why complainant was there in the place of incident, what else he was carrying, what words the accused spoke to him, whether the street lights were on or off,  did the accused told the reason of snatching, did they introduced themselves as Khalid and Munir and acquainted Aslam about home address and their old problems with him. Very sadly our FIRs contain everything unnecessary one can imagine which can hardly leave any room for Investigator to reach the original story, resulting in the increase in pendency and untraced cases.

Therefore, Sind police must focus on the culture of material evidence and develop crime scene science so that no criminal manages to go scot free. In the wake of this, Sind Police has, very recently, began to adopt in letter and spirit the scientific modalities of managing crime scene. Though a paradigm shift in policing methodologies in Sind, yet this has to go a long way in attaining maturity and sophistication. Let us explain how crime scene management works.

The Crime Scene Management covers almost all main aspects of crime scene management activity of crime scene investigators. I had privilege and credit to draft these Standard Operating Procedures on Crime scene management for Sind Police in 2010 and these procedures have been adopted without any addition or deletion. Let us describe these crime scene procedures.


These crime scene procedures are divided into four major aspects of crime scene management and are designed to devise different roles and to fix responsibilities of the police officers who are one way or the other related to the crime scene management. The four major aspects include information, preparation, protection of crime scene and search and preservation of evidence.

According to the first procedure of information, as laid down in Standard Operating Procedures, “Station House Officer (SHO) or duty officer, or patrol officer or finally Head Muharir, “will be responsible for informing the forensic division Sind police” for sending its crime scene unit at the crime scene. Duty Officer In-charge at Forensic Division will make the proper entry in his daily register mentioning therein all particulars and details containing the name of informing the officer, time of information, nature of the crime and also departure and arrival of crime scene staff.

The procedure of ‘preparation’ for managing crime scene places much of responsibility on the Forensic Division. “The crime scene manager” available at Forensic Division “will be responsible” for making all arrangements necessary for search, collection, role assignment on the spot if necessary, legal ramifications, communication with supplementary services such as medical examiner and prosecutor, coordination with the eyewitnesses of the crime scene and packing and transportation of evidence materials.

At present such a bigger role for Forensic Division appears to be idealistic to many police officers who are working in the field and who are not at all willing to share their authority with any specialised unit at whatsoever cost is, indeed, a big stumbling block in the implementation of such procedures of Crime Scene. However, it is expedient to establish the active forensic units with the full-fledged crime scene unit facility at the zonal level both in Karachi as well as interior Sindh so that time and resources could be saved and Standard Operating Procedures of Crime Scene would implement with less resistance.

Regarding the third procedure of the protection of crime scene, the document in point states: “The responsibility of protecting and securing crime scene lies with SHO (Station House Officer) and his concerned police station, which is capable of making arrangements for protecting and securing the crime scene”. It further establishes: “the person responsible should take control aggressively and close access to everything to the crime scene. He/She should deny access to anyone and to anything towards the crime scene”.


Only authorised persons can enter the crime scene with the permission of Crime Scene manager/ protector. It does not mean any high official can enter the Crime Scene without recording appropriate reasons and justifications and his or her entry and exit will be fully recorded together with the specific purpose of his or her entry.

In addition to this, the SHO who is responsible for the protection of crime scene as per procedures would also gauge the purity of Crime Scene and determine the level of its contamination when he or she arrives and takes the charge of the Crime Scene. If the Crime Scene initially appears to have been spoiled, the SHO will try to obtain the information relating to the original conditions of the Crime Scene by identifying, removing and separating the witnesses from the Crime Scene.

The very significant aspect of Crime Scene Evidence protection as laid down in this procedure is the way Crime Scene is to be recorded or got recorded by Crime Scene Investigators. There are three major methods of recording the crime scene. They include photography, sketch, and notes. Everyone attending the crime scene and has some role there is required to take extensive and detailed notes of everything present at the crime scene and every activity taking places at the moment he or she arrives the crime scene. No one attending crime scene is supposed to rely on memory. Such notes can offer potential evidence.  It is advised apart from procedures that we do not only have to preserve the crime scene but we have also to be able to prove that we did so.


The fourth and the last procedure reads: “The responsibility of crime scene search lies with the local investigating officer. He/she will be responsible for completing all legal requirements, for ensuring proper packing of evidence from the crime scene, for keeping track of evidence, and for ensuring timely collection of materials and expert reports/opinions. He/she is bound to maintain search and evidence log.”

Moreover, investigating officer has also been rendered responsible under this procedure to prepare the narrative description of the crime scene (include written notes, audio tape and video tape), depict crime scene photographically, and through sketch with a view to documenting the relationship of items, locations and distances at the scene.  At the end he/she should conduct the final survey and release the scene, containing time and date of release together with who released the same scene to whom.

After years of archaic policing, Sindh Police’s adoption of Crime Scene Management procedures for obtaining a reliable material evidence is, beyond any doubt, a timely step in a right direction which can claim a paradigm shift in the ways we have been policing and policed during last sixty years or more. However, the success of this little effort would largely depend on the level of seriousness with which our police implement and adopt it.

The Writer is a law enforcement/Policing Educator and a Novelist…





Our Criminal Justice Dilemma




The dilemma in Pakistan’s criminal justice system is deep-rooted and widespread in our societal structure, political traditions, statutory ethos, popular apathy, and institutional turf wars. An autopsy of our criminal justice reveals in an unmistakable way the long list of factors that go uninterrupted in haunting everyone including the public, media, academia, politics and governance.

The form and structure of the state, the modes of its governance and the fundamental paradigm of its regulatory regimes always reflect the essence of society’s culture. However, the human culture is the most ancient and the most powerful influence on human thinking about the perspectives of living and of the moving spirit behind the civilisation.

Ours is, indeed, an outlived criminal justice system; it is incapacitated to live up to the changing times. Our criminal justice fails to be at par with challenges triggered by the age of terror, borderless world, human rights, rule of law, due process of law, age of digits and many similar influences.

The elitist power culture is the core issue in addressing the very fundamental irritants in our criminal justice system. The elitist ethos of our societal structure represented by feudal mindsets and nuisance gamers continue to pre-empt all progressive reform efforts of all our enlightened statesmen. All those who matter because of their ascribed status whether they hail from any segment or interest group ranging from politics, statecraft, bureaucracy, media, civil society, landed gentry leave no stone unturned to perpetuate their status quo to the extent of converting all public interests into their personal and private businesses interests. The common man is yet to attain freedom which is mortgaged in the contours of dynastic democratic tradition in our country.

Political Interference in public department’s especially criminal justice institutions is another problem area. In Pakistan, the entire criminal justice system has been adversely affected by politically motivated policies and practice designed to weaken its structure. Those public servants who maintain the integrity and resist tooth and nail to deny dancing to the tunes of politicians and all others who one way or the other matter in the power structure in Pakistan are either transferred or removed from the service through engineered allegations and concocted departmental enquiries.

As a consequence, the criminal justice system has lost public confidence as a trustworthy and reliable mechanism to redress the public grievances on basis of merit. Many surveys conducted by independent groups and human rights commission of Pakistan time and again testify the fact that 80% of Pakistani Public have no confidence in CJS institutions and believe that they serve regime and protect the powerful lot only. There has reportedly been serious rule of law issues.

We also lack in criminal justice policy principles. It works unsystematically. The idealistic core of the system is dry and hollow within.  The policy for CJS is important and considered as the best practice to enforce the law, ensure justice and maintain public peace and order. Such ideals of the policy are the absolute wasteland in Pakistan where, unfortunately, ad-hoc measures reign supreme, fitting the elitist scheme of things.

Our CJS is yet to adopt the technology. The technology deficit takes our system to nowhere but to the perpetual and utter state of stagnancy and retrogression. The proper use of modern technology of forensics, telemetry, biometrics, digitalism, database formations, and documentation is missing. Its approaches are doubt-driven and not evidence-based.

Sadly to say, we are yet to think of CJS innovations that have been taking place worldwide in last three decades. In order to rise equal to the burgeoning challenges of crime and justice, expanding mandate of CJS institutions specially the gatekeepers -the police, and also rising public expectations within promising democracies, the governments of modern day are left with very thin choices to ignore exploring new ways of reviewing the basic missions of police, their core strategies, and the relationship of police with the community they are sworn to serve.

Despite a number of CJS committees and commissions constituted time and again in 70 years of our country’s age had very insightful and remarkable ideas of renovating CJS but regrettably all withered away in the serious storms of vested interests of bureaucratic and political nature? The most outstanding, to name a few, has been the Police Order 2002 which too saw the light of the day during Musharaf’s autocracy got infected with bureaucratic dengue virus in Punjab and political HIV in Sindh and Balochistan.

Lovely, the democratic ideals and rule of law culture spread in our country in 21st century bring the military-clone democratic order of Musharaf to its logical end in a peaceful manner yet the ill-panned and unregulated advancements resulted out of judicial activism brought the CJS institutions in the crossfire of judicial and executive battles of deadly nature in which the police and prosecution suffered irreparable collateral damages finally creating the environment of serious mistrust between the honourable courts and the police services and other law enforcement agencies related to the investigations of the crime, terrorism, corruption, and elections. This gap still exists and is readable in landmark Panama-gate judgement of the supreme court of Pakistan issued on 20th April 2017.

Not being a part and parcel of sacred CJS process the Media, both electronics and print, in Pakistan have self-assumed the role of justice dispensing agent through a well-thought-out and well-planned phenomenon of media trials of the issues of social as well as national nature allowing the space for many outsiders to get involved in the job that not at all is their business. The involvement of media in everything statutory and governmental is hardly serving anybody’s interest except eroding the basic functions of CJS institutions, influencing police investigations and the courts’ decisions.

Besides all this, our CJS lack counterterrorism capacity. Our police and civilian law enforcement agencies are not considered worth to fight the menace of terrorism in our country. As a consequence, our national action plan is being executed through our military and paramilitary forces and that is why military courts have been established to carry out that daunting job of executing the terrorists. Our superior courts are left with thin choices of trying police officers in ‘forced disappearances’ cases more than they have to execute the terrorists.

The very fundamental issue of our CJS is also unequal access to justice. Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid in one of his articles refer to Michael Anderson, a CJS expert, who writes:

“First, Justice in its current form is part of the problem. Secondly, the poor see the institutions of justice not as a source of protection, but as entities to be avoided. Thirdly, where justice institutions are seen not as the part of the solution but rather a part of the problem, it is hardly surprising that access to them is not especially attractive. Fourthly, improved access to courts will be of little use if it means greater access to delay, harassment, bribe-taking, and unresponsive systems. Fifthly, in this context, the question for judges becomes: how to ensure that justice institutions are not themselves sources of injustice! Lastly, delay in criminal justice negates several fundamental rights including the right to freedom of movement and dignity of man.”

The last but not the least, many experts believe that our criminal justice system is discriminatory to the core. Despite all claims and proclaims biases on the basis of gender and class at all levels of CJS are deeply entrenched. Our CJS treats people of different backgrounds differently and the powerful and influential have long hands and large brains to manoeuvre it to their comforts.

As a result, we have been co-existing with a criminal justice system which appears to be more criminally-toned than justice-driven:

  • it neither punishes crime nor offers Justice to the victim;
  • many criminals go scot free and many victims await justice;
  • the conviction rate is abysmally low;
  • there is nothing like corrections of criminals;
  • society rely on outside court settlements of their issues even in the serious crimes like felony;
  • the existence of Jirga, Shariah law and military courts speaks volumes of the fragility and infectivity of our CJS;
  • and also our CJS is dead on future crime challenges which intensively connected world with high openness has in store for it.

Pakistan’s CJS is outdated and dysfunctional and needs drastic reforms and Criminal Justice Policy. For CJP criminal justice policy research is sin qua non. We should establish Criminal Justice Policy Institute.

Ultimately and realistically, we are left with no any criminal justice system. The Bottlenecks in the reformation of CJS might be the Political & the Bureaucratic “Vested Interests”. As a consequence, malfunctioning of our CJS continues to impact the core values of governance i.e. Justice, Freedom, writ of the law and Peace in Pakistan.

The Writer is a novelist and a law enforcement educator…