LAHORE - Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera Thursday issued orders to stop police shooting of citizens, particularly at pickets.

A police spokesperson said the new directives are issued in the wake of Rawalpindi incident in which policemen shot dead two young brothers at a picket after the motorcyclists did not stop for checking.

Calling it tragic, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said there is no justification for direct firing on citizens for not stopping at a police picket. He termed the killing of two brothers by police an extremely brutal and inhuman act.

“In order to protect the lives, properties and honour of citizens, police officials deployed at pickets cannot open fire in future unless there is an imminent threat to the life of an official as per provision of law,” says a press statement issued from the Central Police Office (CPO) on Thursday.

The new orders state that all officials deployed at pickets will be bound to adopt all possible preventive measures by using proper security equipments like bullet-proof jackets with ballistic helmets, wireless sets, and barriers during picketing duties.

Sukhera has formulated a new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for installing police pickets, snap-checking, raids and patrolling to stop reoccurrence of such incidents in future.

According to the new SOP, all field officers are directed to avoid the deployment of those police officials at pickets who are “unhappy, physically sick, emotionally disturbed and not properly trained and qualified in weapon handling”.

They were also directed to ensure that the weapons could not be issued to those policemen who are aggressive and having short-tempered behaviour. Field officers will also be responsible under the new SOP to arrange Police Darbars on regular basis in police lines to train the officials to display decency, courtesy, patience, and a maximum restraint during snap-checking.

They will also ensure the maximum duty hours of these officials should not be more than eight hours. There should be deployment of at least five police officials including an upper-subordinate at the pickets and for patrolling. All the Regional Police Officers (RPOs), Capital City Police Officer, City Police Officers, and district police officers and even the SHOs will be responsible for implementation of the SOP and they would have to pay surprise visits to assess the state of preparedness and on ground follow up on the directions.

As per the new SOP, all field officers are also asked to launch a comprehensive media campaign with a view to educate public about their responsibilities as citizens and also to create awareness amongst public that these pickets are placed for their security and protection.

Last month, protests erupted in several cities across Punjab after two lawyers - including Daska Bar Association President Rana Khalid Abbas - were killed and two others wounded during a clash between lawyers and police in Daska tehsil of Sialkot district of Punjab.

In June 2014, police killed more than 14 protesters and wounded 80 others during clashes outside the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Secretariat in Model Town. The police shooting of unarmed protesters had not only sparked countrywide protests but also triggered a hot debate about the police highhandedness. The opposition parties had come down hard on the government for leaving the people at the mercy of police.

On the other hand, police sources termed the new orders of the Punjab police chief as “merely an eye-wash” and said that the IGP has been struggling to retain his post despite facing severe criticism by the opposition and independent analysts.

A retired police officer, requesting anonymity, said that IGP Mushtaq Sukhera is no more interested in reforming the corruption-riddled police. “He is just wasting the time. The killing of two brothers by police in Rawalpindi is the third incident under the leadership of Sukhera. There is no guarantee (of reoccurrence of such incidents) in future,” he commented.

It may be mentioned here that calls are growing for the immediate removal of IGP Mushtaq Sukhera since the police killed lawyers in Daska. On several occasions, PTI Chief Imran Khan has demanded the government to fire IGP Mushtaq Sukhera saying that he is incompetent and more loyal to the politicians rather than to his department.