Policing is an important and one of the most difficult tasks to perform in the current era. Law enforcement agencies have to face a lot of challenges to perform their duties most effectively. This is because they had to deal with the public directly, which has its own repercussions. They have to go against societal norms, face peer pressure and put personal choices and favoritism back into the pavilion to perform better. Resultantly, by applying some changes against human desires, their stress level increases which becomes a hurdle between police officers and their duty. And when it comes to Pakistan, the scenes are not worth appreciating.
In Pakistan it is rightly said that Police is not just a job; it’s a lifestyle. As other jobs require a specific time commitment, Police don’t; and to rationalize this it is widely said and validated, “when crime can occur at any time, then why do police have specific duty timings” which one can also relate to the judiciary, “crime can happen at any stint, but justice “can be” delivered only from 8 am to 4 pm with full summer and winter breaks”. However, up to that extent, things are understandable but not justifiable because it is the responsibility of law enforcement agencies to ensure peace. That’s their duty. But at what cost? At the cost of their mental health? At the cost of their damaging social relationships? At the cost of their work-family imbalance? No, that should not be fair. Then, the question arises: why did they join the Police? Weren’t they aware of the job demands? Weren’t they aware of the available resources? But before raising that kind of questions just think if is it justifiable to raise a debate of “profession by choice” in a country like Pakistan where government jobs are so glamourized and the professional options are limited due to which engineers are Tehsildars, Chemists are Sub-inspectors, Physicists and Mathematicians are clerk somewhere and other factions of the learned society are in the queue to join the “esteemed” government services at any cost and at any grade.
So, in a country like Pakistan where that kind of culture prevails, people join the police because they need to do a job for their living. There aren’t too many choices. Many people wouldn’t have joined the police if they had a better job before. That’s why people leave the police immediately when they are provided with a better opportunity. However, those selected and lucky ones who had a choice to opt for any other department except the police (The PSPs) should be questioned that you are here by your own choice, in the presence of your highness, why has the Police department failed to build their rapport since 1947? What changes have been made to the police organizational structure which proved to be helpful and easy-going for the police officers? Why are police still using the old nineteenth-century acts? Etcetera. By not meeting realistic expectations, they are not only a failure in the eyes of the public but in the eyes of their subordinates too. On the contrary, the statistics showed that they are the competent ones and they have proved it by acing the most “uncertain” exam in Pakistan. They come after passing a rigorous process of recruitment. Hence, by believing all this, another question pops up in everyone’s mind that despite being so intelligent, diligent, and hardworking, how they aren’t successful in getting the Police out of the pot in which it has been falling for decades? The truth is, “the intent is missing”.
Yes, the problems are there, and it is also understandable that the state doesn’t want to make the police powerful because of the political culture of Pakistan but the real problem is that the leaders of the police department (The PSP Officers) don’t hold the audacity to raise voice for their department’s betterment. Either they also consider them misfits now as the curtain has fallen in front of them which has created a lot of difference between their real self and ideal self or using displacement (one of the Freud’s ego defense mechanisms) in difficult scenarios is a part of their training. Still, despite the involvement of Pakistani elite, politicians, and the unseen powerful entities there are some grounds where things can be improved in the Police department without any kind of excuses and none of the stakeholders would mind that. One of those grounds is the ground of mental health. This is the least that could be done for the police personnel. A mentally well police officer will be more beneficial to the public than a police officer who has nothing to blame but himself/herself.
In my next writing, I’ll explain why the mental health of the police officers is necessary and how it can be improved with the limited resources available.