False appointment letters were issued to anybody who chose to apply to what appears to be a “huge gang” within police
An indication of just how vulnerable Pakistan is to extremist entryism is provided by the recruitment of bogus police officers in Punjab. The Punjab police have sacked 136 officers, with more to follow, who had been appointed by a complex and far- reaching corrupt process that went to the top of the police pyramid. False appointment letters were issued to virtually anybody who chose to apply to what is reported to be a “huge gang” within the police which operated from the provincial headquarters. The gang was busted, to little fanfare, early in October and seven of its members arrested.
This is a matter of profound concern, and it must not be assumed that it is an isolated incident. Investigations are now under way to see if any of those recruited had links to terrorist or extremist organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. The gang issued bogus appointment orders that had genuine signatures by the appropriate officers along with official stamps and a fake recruitment number. This would have required the active cooperation of perhaps as many as several hundred people across a range of police departments.
This is not something that sprang up overnight and would have taken years to grow into a mature and effective corrupt enterprise. The gang was so powerful that it was able to obtain a stay order on any investigation of them once they were finally discovered late in 2014. Fortunately, this has now been overturned by the Supreme Court. It is impossible to overstate the gravity of these disclosures. They expose a hitherto unknown level of corruption in the police that offers an open door to those of a terrorist or extremist mindset. Police records are open to fake recruits and they can operate under a cloak of legitimacy and have ‘protection’ far up the chain of command. It calls into question the probity of the entire Punjab police force so deep is the corrupt penetration, and we have to question whether the Punjab force has the capacity or credibility to investigate this themselves. We await — and will follow — developments with interest.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st, 2015.
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