Thursday, June 25, 2015
In typical form
Once again the notorious Punjab police makes the news for the wrong reason; this time for gunning down a 15-year old boy – without warning – as he was taking selfies with a toy pistol. What is more, in typical fashion again, the police quickly lodged a fake FIR about a fake encounter that named the boy, now deceased, as the accused. And they would have got their way, as they are so often used to, had not eye witnesses and the boy’s family taken the initiative and filed a separate FIR, this one naming the concerned SHO as the accused.
Clearly the police, especially in Punjab, is no longer the disciplined force that it once was. It has now, with good reason, assumed the reputation of a thuggish outfit that has grown too used to doing politicians’ dirty work, for fair return, than serve the people – which is what the state pays them for. It has also developed the reputation of a fearsome Mafia force in its own rights. Many inside the force have, time and again, been accused and found guilty of running crime rings involving theft, kidnapping, prostitution, etc. Yet little attention is paid to these facts where it matters.
From the time of the infamous Model Town incident not too long ago – when Punjab police overran unarmed PAT activists, killing and injuring many – the force’s reputation has taken a particularly visible nosedive. Part of the reason is an increasingly empowered media, which brings their excesses to light more often than before. But the main reason is that those in charge prefer it this way. The N-league, for example, makes no secret of leveraging the bureaucracy for its own political purposes. Only those that please the Sharifs find the best postings. So long as these trends are not checked, law enforcement will leave a little something to be desired. The boy’s killing in Faisalabad is just another reminder of the problem, yet we are no closer to the cure. The government needs to realise that the police force has become compromised. As such, it threatens not only public safety, but also the fight against terrorism, where it is supposed to be the first line of defence. Police reforms must be undertaken immediately, and followed through to the end.
A suffocating heat wave across Pakistan has killed over 700 in the past week, exposing a severe power crisis and threatening to usher in a new period of political unrest.
Temperatures have hit 45 degrees Celsius in recent days, prompting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to declare a national emergency this week. The blistering heat is exacerbated by chronic electricity shortages, forcing water pumping stations - the chief source of potable water - to come to a standstill, with residents also unable to seek relief from fans or air-conditioners. That's created a deadly health risk for Muslims fasting during the annual Ramadan holiday that began last week.
"This shortfall is the result of the failure, over successive governments' tenures, to invest enough to expand power system capacity," said a new report by the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), an independent and nonpartisan group.
Electricity deficits can exceed up to one-third of peak demand in Pakistan and cost more than 2 percent of gross domestic product annually, it added. Multiple factors like a physical shortfall, the financial inability of utilities to cover the cost of increasing supply and poor governance have contributed to the crisis.
Indeed, structural weakness in the power sector remains a major growth constraint and an impediment to investment, Moody's sovereign analyst Anushka Shah told CNBC on Wednesday. However, the government is making progress, she noted.
"Over the last few years, they have taken steps to address the crisis, mainly by increasing tariffs to reduce subsidies and add capacity. We do recognize these policy efforts and would view the implementation of these reforms as credit positive."