Each year, the number of children in Pakistan who fall victim to crime increases and horrific stories of transgressions leave us perplexed and numb as to why the state is unable to fulfill its responsibility of ensuring the safety of the most vulnerable segment of the society. These tragic incidents revive the discussion around the role of the state with most conversations centring around the protection of individual rights and property and state administered security through institutions of the police and military.To fully understand the complexities of the current lack of economic and social development of human security in the country, it is necessary to outline Pakistan’s revolving door of regimes since its inception. The repeated regional conflicts, military dictatorships and corrupt civilian governments have resulted in the chronic inability of the state to perform its sovereign responsibilities to provide security, justice and public services. Pakistan has been limited in its ability to develop its government or society due to often times being burdened with foreign influence and intervention at the expense of national sovereignty. As a consequence, institutions have been compromised in their ability to progress to the point of providing safety and security. Critics are quick to pronounce Pakistan ineffective in protecting its citizens from violence, ensuring law and order, and in establishing a transparent and unbiased judicial system. These critiques are often met with swift judgment and threats bringing the inquiry to a halt.The conversation must not stop there. Pakistan’s policing is deeply rooted in colonial and post-colonial implications of the British rule in the region with the mantra of serving agents in power and not the people. With the creation of the independent Islamic state, Pakistan inherited the policing framework from the British rule and its influence is visible across the region as the police force was designed by default as means to rally individuals to submission rather than a public service agency. Pakistan’s policing is deeply rooted in colonial and post-colonial implications of the British rule in the region with the mantra of serving agents in power and not the peopleThe police system of Pakistan is stained with an outdated legal and institutional framework that is not concordance with current criminal justice systems. As the colonial framework primarily focuses on cultural and political needs of the 19th Century static village, its implementation cannot simply be extended to urbanised and industrialised societies. Further, the system also lacks the qualified management and leadership with the executive authority of the state at each level. It is no secret that most of the security budget is allocated to the military and not for internal policing which contributes to the paucity to modernised training and equipment.Sociologists remind us that the economic collapse of a state serves as a breeding ground for crime by various members of society. In Pakistan, political elites and civil servants embrace notions of bribery, robbery and other antics to compensate for their low wages and lack of resources. And as a result, the public loses trust and respect for their leaders and institutions, further weakening the already fragile relationships between authority and society. The ongoing corruption, structural adjustment-induced retrenchment, low salary and morale, lack of opportunities for advancement and various forms of social pressures lead to a displaced sense of common good. With inadequate accountability, little to no incentive based system of professional advancement and widespread corruption in Pakistan, the future of protection, maintenance, and service of law and order looks grim without substantive reforms.Although the Police Ordinance of 2002 marks a positive step towards the recognition of the necessity of reform and reflects an understanding of law enforcement challenges in modernizing the system to cater to the practical needs of the current time, real change with significant outcomes has not yet been documented.Once again, the conversation must not stop here. Security and policing intersects all facets of societal concerns. Maintaining a decline in poverty, improving education and establishing employment and social welfare services are also vital in addition to the improvement of the policing system. Sociologists also remind us that a fair and equal economic, social and political justices system tends to surface as law and order are maintained properly. In this complex relationship between the state, security, and institutions let’s hope there will be some reforms in the criminal justice system leading to increased protection of the citizenry, especially those most vulnerable, the children.The writer serves as a civil society UN Representative at the Economic and Social Affairs Council (ECOSOC). As a former Adjunct Professor of Social Sciences at the City University of New York (CUNY), her area of teaching and research include criminal justice and comparative politics. Ameena tweets at @suitcasememoirs.Published in Daily Times, January 13th 2018.