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<em>Reforming Pakistan's Police and Law Enforcement Infrastructure: Is It Too Flawed to Fix?</em>

Pakistani police officers escort an armored car carrying Mumtaz Qadri, the alleged killer of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, to an Anti-Terrorist Court in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Jan. 6, 2011.
AP Photo

Reforming Pakistan's Police and Law Enforcement Infrastructure: Is It Too Flawed to Fix?

Report, United States Institute of Peace

February 2011

Author: Hassan Abbas, Former Senior Advisor, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security



  • An efficient, well-functioning police service is critical to counterinsurgency as well as counterterrorism efforts in Pakistan, now and in the future. At the same time, the police force must also address rising crime rates and a deteriorating law-and-order situation, among many other tasks.
  • The capacity of the Pakistan Police Service to deliver on all these fronts is severely diminished by political manipulation, the lack of forensic services, inadequate training and equipment, corruption, and weaknesses in the judicial sphere. Disconnect and lack of coordination between numerous kinds of policing and intelligence organizations are major hurdles on the path leading to collective strategizing.
  • Upgrading the existing police system as the central law enforcement institution in the country cannot occur in isolation, however. Instead, it must be part of an overarching restructuring of the total law enforcement infrastructure, including a reform of the criminal justice system and the stripping of politically motivated amendments from the Police Act of 2002. Both traditional and innovative reforms would be expected to bear fruit in this arena. With a high degree of public consensus on the need for far-reaching law enforcement reforms in Pakistan, there is political space to make tough, reform-oriented choices. Pro-reform circles within police are also gaining strength.


An effective police force is critical to countering insurgency. In Pakistan, an understaffed and underequipped police force is increasingly called on to manage rising insecurity and militant violence. This report evaluates the obstacles to upgrading the existing police system and recommends traditional and innovative reform options, including major restructuring of the total civilian law enforcement infrastructure, without which the police force cannot be effectively improved. Because Pakistan's police capacity has direct implications for the country's ability to tackle terrorism, the United States and its allies would realize counterterrorism dividends by helping law enforcement efforts through modern training and technical assistance.

Download the full report:‘s_Police_and_Law_Enforcement_Infrastructure.pdf


For more information about this publication please contact the ISP Program Coordinator at 617-496-1981.

Full text of this publication is available at:‘s_Police_and_Law_En

For Academic Citation:

Abbas, Hassan. Reforming Pakistan's Police and Law Enforcement Infrastructure: Is It Too Flawed to Fix?. Washington, D.C.: Report for United States Institute of Peace, February 2011.

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