Justice and reward

Does bounty on capture of wanted criminals encourage corruption?

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Naimat Khan  TFT Issue: 08 Jul 2016

 

In March 2013, law-enforcement personnel arrested a wanted terrorist suspected to be involved in American journalist Daniel Pearl abduction and murder, and several other attacks on Western targets. Qari Abdul Hai had been a leader of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and the government had announced a Rs 1 million bounty on his head.

The Rangers and the Sindh police both claimed to have arrested the suspect, and asked for the reward money, according to a summary document originating from Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah’s office.

The office of the director general of Rangers was the first to claim the reward, saying his men had arrested the wanted terrorist. The home department made the request, the chief minister approved it, and the finance department placed the sum on the disposal of the home house to give out to Rangers personnel.

But then there was a twist in the story. Sindh police claimed it were their men who had arrested the wanted man, and the bounty belongs to them. The then inspector general of Sindh police wrote to the home department and said Qari Abdul Hai had been captured by the CID police under the supervision of Chaudhry Muhammad Aslam, the then Senior Superintendent of Police of CID in Karachi who was later assassinated.

The case points to deeper problems in the rewards system.

On June 9 this year, the chief minister approved the disbursement of Rs 100 million in reward money to the police and intelligence agencies who helped capture wanted terrorists and criminals.

“The chief minister said that those who have done a wonderful job must be rewarded,” according to a statement from his office said.

Former home secretary Dr Niaz Ali Abbasi is skeptical about the entire exercise. “In some cases, it has been observed that criminals involved in ordinary cases are being shown as hardened criminals and a reward money in millions of rupees is proposed on their arrest and elimination,” he said in a document sent to the chief minister about two years ago. In other words, it is not just this double claim for the same reward that alarmed Dr Abbasi. He believes such bounty has the potential to become a means of corruption. “The reward money culture creeping in Sindh police has gravely eroded efficiency, moral and image of police officers,” he had told the chief minister.

“The greed for reward is leading to fake encounters, corrupting police officers and tarnishing their image besides declining their efficiency,” the document said, quoting a former finance secretary.

A notorious dacoit from Sindh was killed thrice

Asad Iqbal Butt, vice chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s Sindh chapter, shares Dr Abbasi’s concern. “The greed for reward money is one of the major causes of the hike in staged encounters,” he believes.

Sindh Police Chief Allah Dino Khawaja disagrees. He believes bounties or rewards are not a source of corruption. “Instead, they help a great deal in resolving blind cases,” he told me. “Reward money is usually given on the arrest and not the killing of the suspect, so the claim that it has increased fake encounters is baseless and unfounded.”

A senior official told me some wanted men do carry head money even for being captured dead or alive.

The police chief says many civilians don’t come forward to help the police until they are given financial incentives. “Reward money is not a new concept,” he said. “It is an international practice.”

Critics of the system say claims for bounty should be decided by an independent panel after being properly investigated, especially because it is the police that almost always benefits from such rewards.

“The police have never shared a balance sheet or any information on how this money is being given out,” says Riaz Sohail, a Karachi-based reporter associated with BBC Urdu.  “In the absence of transparency, there will always be a question mark over such money. Who knows if the informer was paid? Who was the informer? If they compare it with such practices in developed countries, there is a proper mechanism of checks and balances.”

According to HRCP’s Asad Iqbal Butt, there have been several instances in which a dacoit with head money was killed and the reward disbursed, but it turned out that the victim was someone else, often a poor laborer. “We have even often seen a person with money on his head being killed several times,” he said, “But no one raises questions and there is no transparency.”

Paro Chandio, a notorious dacoit from Sindh, was reported killed thrice. The prime suspect of Abbas Town carnage, Aslam Mehsud, was killed twice. According to a report by Zia Ur Rehman – journalist and author of ‘Karachi in Turmoil’ – people from the Mehsud tribe say they were easy targets of such fake encounters in the city.

On July 12, 2006, police claimed they had killed the notorious gangster Mashooq Brohi in a shootout in the precinct of the Gadap police station. The man turned out to be a laborer Rasool Bux. According to the HRCP vice chairman, on April 3 this year, police killed four men in the Rerhi Goth locality on outskirts of Karachi for their alleged association with Baloch Liberation Army. They all turned out to be innocent locals.

“The police are paid essentially to curb crime, which includes capturing hardened criminals. Why should they be rewarded for something for which they are already being paid?” the former finance secretary had asked in Dr Niaz Abbasi’s communication with the chief minister.

“What should they be rewarded for?” Asad Butt questions. “Fighting crime is their duty. That is what they are supposed to do.” Instead of cash incentives paid for by taxpayer money, they should be punished if they fail to do their job.

The author is a Karachi based journalist

Email: undisclosedtruth@gmail.com

Twitter: @NKMalazai

Published in The Friday Times, Lahore

“Thanks God she hasn’t gone to any Arab country”

03.jpg“Thanks God she hasn’t gone to any Arab country”, commented a Facebook friend when I posted a story about Afghan refugee-turn Canadian minister – Mariam Monsef – on my timeline.

The comment reminded me of Muhammad Naqeeb, a Palestinian American, whose eatery, the Milano Pizza & Greek Deli in Manteca, California, was my favorite place to dine in.

Before narrating Naqeeb’s story, it would be equally interesting to know about the woman whose success story made me recalled the tall bearded Pizza boy, Muhammad Naqeeb.

According to news reports, Maryam Monsef, the new Canadian MP, was elevated by the newly sworn-in Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to his 31-member cabinet on 4th of November.

But who is Ms. Monsef?

She was born in the war-torn Afghanistan and raised in the western city of Herat, near the Iranian border. “I lost my father when I was a toddler and both my sisters were under the age of two. My mother was in her 20s. No one knows for certain what happened to my father”, Monsef told The Huffington Post, adding the most they knew was he was caught in crossfire between the border of Iran and Afghanistan.

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According to reports years before she was born her uncle had been abducted from his dorm room at Kabul University. “A third-year pharmaceutical student, he was politically vocal and had been heard making anti-communist remarks on a bus”, she told the newspaper.

Monsef, whose childhood was spent moving between Afghanistan and Iran, said that even after the Soviet invasion ended the family was still in nightmare due to the Afghan Mujahedeen, forcing her mother to go to Iran. In Iran her family wasn’t welcome either and Monsef and her two sisters would be teased by local kids. “As illegal refugees we were also living under the constant threat of deportation” she said.

“In 1996, my mother chose to leave her support system and her culture behind to come to Canada”, Monsef told the newspaper, informing the family claimed refugee status when they arrived in Canada, ending up in Peterborough, where Monsef’s uncle lived. She was 11 then. Today, she is one of the 33 ministers of the Canada.

Though hasn’t become an American congressmen, Naqeeb has certainly got in the US what he couldn’t achieve in the country of his birth – not even nationality.

Naqeeb, who was born in Saudi Arabia on September 18, 1983 and lived there for over fourteen years before his family opted to move to United States in 1998 for better fortune.  Before tying the knot, his father and mother – though Palestinians – were living in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, respectively.

However, the fourteen years stay, his birth and Arab descent couldn’t earn Naqeeb Saudi nationality especially when he was displaced of his homeland due to the sprawling illegal Israeli settlements.

“Almost within four years we moved to the US, we got the American nationality” Naqeeb told me as his mother Mona Muhammad was cooking delicious meal for the clients. The restaurant is being run by Muhammad Nizar, his son Naqeeb and wife Mona. Two elder siblings of Muhammad Nizar, namely Hasan and Rania are married.

Though Mrs. Moona is still emotionally attached with the holly lands of Saudi Arabia, her kids are happy having moved to America, which has provided them better life as compared to that which they had lived in Saudi Arabia.

“We may encounter with both positive and negative attitudes in every society and so in the US but generally it’s more welcoming than others” Naqeeb said. “We didn’t have to struggle too much here”.

“But you must be legal to have the good of the American society” the Palestinian American youth opines. For a short while after the 9/11 we had to face harassment but that period lasted shortly when the local realized that the deeds of a certain people can’t be attributed to the entire Muslim community”, “We have to follow the rules of society we are living in. You just can’t force the society to follow you, the things which is often done by the immigrants, earning them negative reaction”, optimistic Naqeeb says.

After doing job in a corporate company as project manager Naqeeb setup his own restaurant and since then his business is flourishing day by day. “It happens when you work hard in a highly receptive society, no matter if you’re born there or having come as immigrant”, Naqeeb said.

The U.S. presidential candidate Donald trump should know that it’s not only Naqeeb and Monsef who have good feelings for the American continent but there are hundreds of thousands like his own grandfather Frederick Trump, who after coming to the US and Canada from different parts of the globe, mingled in the society and are contributing to their new countries.

 The writer is a freelance journalist and ICFJ fellow 2015.

Email: undisclosedtruth@gmail.com

Twitter: @NKMalazai