LAHORE-– Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has granted the approval for recruitment of no less than 10,000 policemen every year in the Punjab police to meet the personnel shortage to enhance the working capacity of the country’s largest law enforcing agency with existing strength of 170,000 cops.

As per the new policy, at least 50,000 constables would be inducted in the provincial police during the next five years. Thus the total strength of the police force would touch the figure of 230,000 by the end of 2016.

Insiders said the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Punjab Habibur Rehman had forwarded a proposal to the chief minister and recommended that a sizeable recruitment in the police force was a must to overcome the personnel shortage.

Last week, the IGP visited Rawalpindi, Attock and Chakwal, and Jhelum districts respectively and reviewed in detail the overall crimes and law and order situation in the upper Punjab province.

As the District Police Officer (DPOs) pointed out severe shortage of police force in the respective regions during a meeting, the IGP revealed that the Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz has given approval of recruiting ten thousand police constables every year in the province to strengthen the police force. The IGP also paid visits to different police stations, held meeting with local representatives and senior police officers and directed the police to formulate a comprehensive strategy to fight crimes.

According to police circles, the performance of the police officers, serving all over the Punjab province, is being monitored and evaluated in the Central Police Office on daily basis. It was learnt that the confidential exercise has been launched on the special orders of the IGP in order to identify honest, hardworking, and crime fighters from the police force apartment from those having bad repute with poor performance.

Several “important and interesting” initiatives have been introduced in the police force since IGP Muhammad Habib-ur-Rehman took over the charge of the top police slot.

For an instance, on the IGP’s directions, the field officers particularly the SHOs and DPOs have been strictly directed to maintain belly up to 38-inches along with their overall physical fitness. Those cops who failed to keep physical fitness will never be given field duties. It means that ‘overweight’ SHOs and DPOs would be replaced by smart and energetic officers.

An accountability division, comprising of 3500 dead-honest police officers, has been made functional at Central Police Office to deeply and strictly monitor the performance of all police officers and officials. The Cell, established perhaps for the first time in the history of the Punjab police, would actively take up the complaints related to police torture, encounter, corruption, embezzlement and illegal custody and will report to the police chief within 24 hours.

According to officials at the Central Police Office, IGP Muhammad Habib-ur-Rehman has been paying regular visits to all the districts of the province in order to have a crystal clear picture of law and order and to remove all types of bottlenecks that are creating inhibitions in redressing the public problems. In the first leg of his tour, the IGP held key meetings with Regional Police Officers (RPOs) and reviewed the over all crimes and law and order situation at Regional level. After visiting all the police regions, the police chief has been visiting the districts to review the performance of the police force at district level. The PMLN-led Punjab government wanted to reform the age-old and typical police culture in the province by upgrading the police stations and improving the professional skills of the officers. At least 100 police stations are being converted into Model Police Stations as a pilot project to soften the image of the police force among the public. Only time will decide whether the government can accomplish the ‘mission-impossible’ of changing the Thana Culture?