LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali are not only good friends but also among the top leadership of the ruling PML-N. Both work together and take the law and order situation very seriously since one is the federal home minister and the other is working as the Chief Executive of the largest province.

But, following the Sikandar Saga in Islamabad, it seems that both think otherwise when it comes to tackle lawbreakers.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali on Friday accepted responsibility for delaying police action against Sikandar, a lone gunman who successfully held the national media hostage in Islamabad for more than five hours.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore, the interior minister said that he himself had given the orders not to shoot the man in front of his children as he was not holding hostage to anyone. The minister also believed that the gunman was a drug addict and he had no past criminal record. His wife was also an educated woman. “I insisted that he should be captured alive and there should be no use of violence to take him down,” the minister reiterated and also criticized media for its live coverage, which according to him delayed the operation.

Capturing a criminal alive has never been an option for the Punjab police. In many cases, the police gunned down the accused persons in fake encounters soon after they were handed over to the police for interrogation on the suspicion of armed robbery by the victim families.

The government’s policy against the criminals and even the suspected persons is altogether different in the Punjab province, where the law and order situation is worsening with every passing day.

Police sources say they believe Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had given freehand to the law enforcing agency to deice the fate of hardened criminals which is evident from the fact that the police killed more than 160 alleged bandits during the first seven months of this year in the province. In 2012, the police killed one robber after every 24 hour during the shootouts, mostly fake and staged in different parts of the province. According to police record, as many as 372 alleged criminals were gunned down in staged encounters during the 365 days of 2012.

Since January 2013, the police staged a number of ‘armed encounters’ in different parts of province and eliminated more than 160 ‘criminals’ but there is no let-up in the incidents of armed robberies, kidnappings, and auto-lifting, and rape.

As regards crimes against property, the statistics reveal that 1281 cases of dacoity, 8389 cases of robbery, 6594 cases of burglary, and 1062 cases of theft were also reported in the province during the same period. Similarly, more than 13000 vehicles were either snatched or stolen away from the Punjab province during the first six month of 2013. This situation indicates that the police are everywhere but practically nowhere.

Many officers believe the newly-appointed chief of the Punjab Police, IGP Khan Baig, is a “Yes Man.” He has no role in the administrative and security matters. 

Under present scenario,   Chaudhry Nisar must learn lessons from the governance in Punjab. He should pick a Babu of his own choice to implement the security polices, no matter the policies are against the constitution.

The  minister may also request his friend to transfer to the Punjab IGP to Islamabad so that the police would ensure on-the-spot justice in case a similar incident happens in the federal capital in the future.

As a second option, the Punjab CM may be given a top position in the federal government to ruthlessly eliminate the gangsters and miscreants from the Pakistani soil like the police are doing this job in the Punjab province.