PESHAWAR -- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Police have been made more independent, apolitical and accountable under a new law in effect for just over one month, officials say.
The KP Assembly passed the KP Police Act 2017 on January 24.
"The new law will improve the performance of the force as it will end political interference," KP Inspector General of Police (IGP) Nasir Khan Durrani told Pakistan Forward.
Improvement in police performance will ultimately result in better law and order in the once-troubled province, he said.
Under the law, the police force has been made more accountable to elected institutions at the provincial and district levels, he said.
"Public safety commissions comprised of elected representatives at the district and provincial level will hold at least two meetings per year to check on the performance of the force in their respective areas," Durrani said.
Moreover, the law enables the IGP to appoint senior police officers -- including additional IGPs, deputy IGPs and district police officers (DPOs) -- without consulting the chief minister, which previously was a requirement.
"Since maintaining law and order is the duty of the police chief, then he should appoint suitable officers on his own and no one should interfere in the affairs of the force," Durrani said, adding that the government keeps the IGP and police force accountable under the law.
"KP Police have played an extraordinary role in eliminating terrorism," Durrani said. "Now the force will serve the people in a more effective manner."
Improving police performance, public safety
The KP Police Act 2017 also legalised a number of the force's recently launched projects.
These include the Counter-Terrorism Force, the Elite Police Training Centre Nowshera, and six specialised police schools: Explosive Handling (Nowshera), Investigation (Peshawar), Tactics (Peshawar), Public Disorder and Riot Management (Mardan), Intelligence (Abbottabad), and Information Technology (Peshawar).
The Act also legalised the Dispute Resolution Councils, the Police Access Service and the Police Assistance Lines, which previously functioned through executive orders.
"We have made the force completely independent and free of the clutches of politicians," KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak told the KP Assembly January 25.
The job of the government is to legislate, while police bosses have to run their institutions, he said, adding that commissions comprised of elected representatives have been set up to keep an eye on the police force.
"The system and the institutions will improve when they are free from political interference," said Khattak.
"The new law will upgrade the performance of the KP Police, which is already ahead of police in other provinces," he said.
The KP Police Act 2017 will improve the force and ultimately law and order, agreed Nisar Mahmood, a Peshawar senior journalist who covers the KP Assembly proceedings.
"If there is a proper accountability system for senior officials, then there is no harm in giving more powers to police bosses to run the force without any political interference," he told Pakistan Forward, adding that political interference in police activities only damages police performance.
Police officers say they have been directed to implement the new act in letter and spirit.
"The IGP has directed all the district police officers and sub-divisional police officers in separate meetings during the first week of February that the people of the province should immediately receive benefits from the new law," Swabi DPO Sohaib Ashraf told Pakistan Forward.
KP is forming Public Liaison Councils to facilitate ties between civilians and police, he added.
"Every council must be comprised of 70% elected councillors and nazims and 30% elders of good reputation [...] to bridge the gap between the public and the police, which is much needed for improved law and order," Ashraf said.