“If you salute your duty, you don’t need to salute anybody. But if you pollute your duty, you have to salute everybody”. The aforesaid quote is attributed to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the scientist turned statesman who, in the year 2002, was unanimously elected as the eleventh President of India. Few years ago, I met a civil servant hailing from Police Service of Pakistan (PSP), and during the course of our meeting he inquired from me about my future plans, when I informed him that I want to join PSP, he said “focus on your profession (law), when we joined civil service things were different, nowadays our so called democrats have turned into monarchs, they don’t let you work with honour and free will”. Nevertheless, I didn’t pay heed to his advice probably due to the reason that at that point of time I was of the view that police uniform is an emblem of honour, gallantry and authority. Unfortunate legends of upright police officers like Nekokara (SSP), Shariq (DPO), Jiskani (SSP) and ordeal of AD Khawaja (IG Sindh) substantially changed my opinion about PSP. However, few days ago, when Maryam Nawaz appeared before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in relation to the Panama corruption probe, my opinion about PSP is now precisely identical to that of the PSP officer who I met few years ago. For her arrival, Maryam was escorted by dozens of police vehicles, when her convoy entered the premises of Federal judicial Academy (FJA) a female officer (PSP) welcomed her with an overwhelmingly gratifying salute. Moreover, when Maryam’s pen fell down on the ground, the said officer in a split second promptly bowed down to pick it up for her. The whole episode forced me to contemplate as to whether the convoy belonged to some dignitary or someone summoned by the JIT for asking questions on various serious issues in relation to the corruption involving taxpayer’s money.Such behaviour by a civil servant is not only objectionable but also against law of the land. A bare reading of Police Rules 1934 and Chapter IV of Police Drill Manual, Punjab, 1929 makes it clear that only specific classes of people are entitled to salutes under specific circumstances. For instance, all police officers above the rank of head constable are entitled to be saluted by their juniors, police officers of all ranks (when in uniform) shall salute provincial Governor, the provincial Ministers, presidents and deputy president of Legislative bodies, high civil officials and officers of the Navy, Army and Air Force. Every police officer entering a Court of law in uniform shall also salute the Court. There is no provision or law which demands even a constable to salute the relative or child of public office holder. The ruling elite is so used to submission of bureaucracy that it now expects the same loyalty from judiciary and armed forcesIf Maryam Nawaz can be saluted, why can’t a police officer salute Jamshed Dasti? His guilt is yet to be established and he is still an accused who has been granted bail. The reason behind such double standards is that in Pakistan police as an institution is highly politicised and majority of upright police officers are working in Railway Police, Intelligence Bureau and other side departments of the police. The powerful field posts are reserved by ruling elite for sycophants and “yes sir” characters. Those in power expect unconditional loyalty from the police, and the salute incident involving Maryam is an apt demonstration of such unqualified allegiance.The ruling elite are so used to submission of bureaucracy that it now expects the same loyalty from judiciary and armed forces. I firmly believe, it is their dream to interfere in transfer/postings of majors, colonel and brigadiers and they want the judges to address them as lordships. It is absolutely useless to keep on criticising the lady police officer for saluting Maryam, as majority of police officers would have done the same. After reading the work of Robert Peel (the founder of London Metropolitan Police) and various other criminologists, like Cesare Beccaria and Alexandre Lacassagne, one thing becomes very clear i.e. the police personnel must deal independently with crime without any political interference or extraneous considerations. Political meddling reduces the efficiency and effectiveness of police to prevent crime, maintain public order, ensure accountability and conduct independent investigations. Therefore, it indispensable that the police personnel are disciplined, committed to rule to law, professionally organised and free from unwarranted external controls.Muhammad Ali Jinnah whilst addressing civil servants in Peshawar in April 1948 said “The first thing that I want to tell you is that you should never be influenced by any political pressure, by any political party or any individual politician. If you want to raise the prestige and greatness of Pakistan, you must not fall victim to any pressure but do your duty as servants of the people and the state, fearlessly and honestly. The services are the backbone of the state. Prime Ministers come and go, ministers come and go, but you stay on”. I wonder how Jinnah would have reacted after witnessing our gazetted civil servants saluting someone appearing before a JIT. The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore Published in Daily Times, July 8th , 2017.