The issue of policing in Pakistan is a matter of great concern. This is true not only for the country’s own people and government, but also for the United States and other Western countries, given the region’s history with international terrorist groups. Reforming the Pakistan police will be challenging and costly, but a necessary step if law enforcement agencies are to improve relations with the public and restore law and order to the country.
Pakistan’s society is divided along sectarian, political and ethnic lines. This presents an ongoing challenge to law enforcement agencies, whose purpose is to safeguard its citizens and protect the socio-political landscape of Pakistan.
Historically, the police and other law enforcement agencies in Pakistan have been criticized for failing to address rising crime rates and curbing attacks motivated by political dissidents, religious extremists, insurgents and terrorists. The police also are widely viewed as corrupt, creating a lack of trust among the public that hinders the effectiveness of law enforcement officials in crucial ways.
While terrorist attacks have decreased in recent years, police reform remains a key issue. For meaningful change to take place, Pakistan’s law enforcement institutions should measure their own activities and their impact on local populations. These measurements must be community-based.
The United States can aid Pakistan in training and offering additional resources to ensure that the police force is prepared and willing to restore public trust — while working with other institutions, including the military, in its counterterrorism mandate and strategy.
Please download the PDF to read the full policy brief.