BY SYED FAWAD ALI SHAH
History has proved again and again that no matter how large and supposedly powerful any force may be, it can’t accomplish without accomplished leaders. Babar defeated the hordes of Ibrahim Lodi at Panipat. Frederick the Great repeatedly defeated forces having twice his strength. General O’Conner defeated numerically superior Italian forces in the First Libyan Campaign and General McArthur turned defeat into victory at Inchon. General Omar Bradley said, “Man for man, one division is as good as another, they vary on the skill and leadership of their commanders”.
Police life and work, by their nature, are full of contradictions. On one hand, the fact that a large number of men have to live, and work together requires the imposition of strict discipline under which they have to conform to well-defined codes of conduct and function in a particular manner. On the other hand, the fluid nature of urban policing, counter-insurgency operations calls for initiative, understanding, and critical judgment, all these being the antithesis of conformity and authoritarianism. Thus, we need someone to lead the force who has seen both extremes in service. Who could be a better choice who is blend and product of warfare and peacetime none other than Mr. Akhtar Hayat Gandapur?
The peacetime environment in the police forces encourages the breeding of senior commanders who stick to rules, always conform to the wishes of their superiors and sacrifice their independence of action by first ascertaining the preference of their superiors on which to base their conduct. Peacetime tends to produce officers who sit in air-conditioned offices and make irrational decisions, policies with devastating results.
Today’s state of affairs in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is a true depiction of this scenario. Sana Ullah Abbasi who has not served for a single day in KP is suddenly posted as PPO and DIG Salman Chaudry’s most disgruntled material is at the helm of affairs and calling the shots. We in KP are confronted with a leadership crisis. It is the pervasive performance culture that has created a particular style of leader that is less compatible with today’s needs. So where does the future lie? Personally, I think the future lies in a system that allows the son of the soil to lead.
Round pegs, round holes in the future, with no wood shaving required. The more people have had to change to fit into selection criteria, the more masks our leaders have had to wear. We need some with an attitude that appreciates and tolerates individual differences, whilst respecting operational credibility as a base. This has to be the future. It makes sense that our future leaders must represent all points of the compass and not just North as a default.
Dr. Ishtiaq Marwat and Capt Feroz Shah are from 20th Common. They are the senior-most Pakhtoon officers serving in KP at the moment. They are very experienced and versatile officers. Then comes Mr. Akhtar Hayat Gandapur, incumbent DIG Special Branch, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who remained RPO Mardan, Hazara, Malakand, Kohat in those challenging times when the majority of the Pakhtoon officers bid good-bye to the province and left for jobs in the federal government. He fought like a soldier in Swat and held his ground firmly. He is the topper of the 22nd CTP and the senior-most Pakhtoon PSP officer at the moment who has served in almost every region of KP. He hails from Dera Ismail Khan and comes from a respectable Pukhtoon family. He knows the norms and culture of KP.
With NMDs and their peculiar policing dynamics, it would be a folly to say that someone other than him understands it better. He is considered an authority on policing in KP. He is kind and supportive to his subordinates. During his entire service, it has been a norm that he took responsibility for failures and gave credit to others. He strongly believes that doing the right thing is always the right thing.
I hope the government of Pakistan will also do the right thing by posting a Pakhtoon officer as IGP who has extensive experience and rendered great service to the country. The demographic situation of this province demands the leadership of a unique police officer who is open to suggestions and has a proactive approach towards policing affairs. It is high time to switch to someone as capable as Akhtar Hayat Gandapur. (Edited by Mamoona Shakoor)
The writer is a senior Journalist. He can be reached at email@example.com