The origins of abusive police behaviour are rooted in our colonial past. The police in half the country’s provinces, even in Islamabad, still operate under the 1861 law enacted after the 1857 insurrection against British rule. The law provides for a police force that relies on fear, intimidation and officially sanctioned violence to protect the state. Missing from the act is language promoting the idea of the police protecting the people or having good relations with the community.Beyond the archaic legal framework, police services suffer from several contemporary problems. The rank and file of the 625,000-member police departments is not recruited on merit; the policemen are poorly educated, ill-trained, badly equipped and underpaid.