ISLAMABAD -- The on-going Ulasi ("community") Police project is bringing Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) police and the public closer together by creating awareness about police reforms, human rights and rule of law, stakeholders say.
The project began in April.
The Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) is implementing the project in an attempt to raise the transparency and accountability of the police force and boost trust in the police among citizens.
"We have already completed projects on police capacity building, rule of law, institutional reforms and good governance in Sindh and Punjab provinces, and now we are doing this programme in KP to achieve these goals," CRSS Executive Director Imtiaz Gul told Pakistan Forward.
The ultimate goal is to "tackle the trust deficit between the public and police [and] help KP police become an accountable and community-focused police force", according to CRSS, an Islamabad-based civil society organisation and think tank.
"We have been holding debates and conferences in Peshawar, Charsadda and Mardan since April 2016 to inform police and the general public about recent police reforms, highlighting of human rights and the responsibility of the police and general public in maintaining peace and security," Malik Mustafa, head of the Ulasi Police project, told Pakistan Forward from Mardan.
Open discussions and requests for co-operation
As part of the Ulasi Police programme, senior police officials sit with civil society representatives and security analysts to discuss on-going police reforms in KP, highlight police initiatives for public security and welfare of the people, and seek the public's co-operation in maintaining security and defeating militancy, Mustafa said.
Police officials, local leaders, journalists and lawyers were among the participants in a September 2 consultative meeting on police reforms and other security-related matters held in Mardan.
KP Superintendent of Police (Security) Sahibzada Sajjad Ahmad noted during the meeting that the KP Police have suffered more casualties than any other provincial police force in fighting terrorism and encouraged the public to respect the police's sacrifices, Mustafa said.
Senior police officials also told the working group that the number of model police stations in Peshawar has increased from seven to 21 under on-going reforms to facilitate public access to police and to improve security and governance, he said.
Police officials urged the media to support these efforts and to highlight the reforms taking place in KP and the sacrifices of police struggling to maintain the peace and fight militancy, he said.
Recommendations for improvements
"The federal and provincial governments should further equip police with modern technology and weapons, give them regular training and allocate more funds for improving security," Shoaib Suddle of Karachi, a former inspector general of Sindh Police, told Pakistan Forward.
Moreover, police recruitment and promotions should be made based on merit and performance, and the counter-terrorism National Action Plan (NAP) must be enforced to improve security and the performance of police, he said.
The NAP is Pakistan's policy initiative to crack down on militancy and eliminate terrorist networks from the country. The government announced its inception in December 2014.
In addition to training police on a regular basis and increasing funding and resources, Suddle said, graduates with criminology and law degrees should be included in the police force to improve performance and efficiency.