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Dolphin Force: How Shehbaz’s pet project fell from favor under PTI

The Dolphin Force was launched in Punjab by then Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif in April 2016 on the Turkish model to control street crime and to minimize police response time at crime scenes.

Initially, 25 officers from constable to Superintendent of Police rank were sent to Turkey for training. They spent 60 days in Istanbul and came back. One year of training was given to 600 officers in Police Training College Chung later. Turkish police use 1,200cc bikes for this specialized force but Pakistani officers were given training on 600cc bikes, and later in 2016 when Dolphin Force was launched in Punjab, the government bought 600 bikes of 500cc for it. Each bike cost Rs1.1 million at the time, and today it is priced at approximately Rs2.5 million.

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The force has 300 bikes of 2016-17 model and 300 bikes of 2018 model. After 2018, no bike was bought by the government after the PTI took charge of Punjab. The first batch of this force was recruited from local police but later it was selected in proper batches.

This specialized wing was made for creating the best relationship between police and the public. For the first time in the history of police, this department was given an Rs10,000 allowance for personality grooming on the recommendation of the Turkey police.

The SOPs were ideal and different from other sections of the police system. It includes eight hours of duty and no protocol duty but, only patrolling in the respective areas. They have been given dot-approved helmets (NOLAN and CABBER) costing Rs50,000. The helmets are Bluetooth enabled and wireless. Only one shift worked from 4 pm to 12 am initially. Being a heavy bike force, it was restricted to carpeted roads only.

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Right after the government changed, back in 2018, the force started facing issues. As per the documented policy of Dolphin Force, it was not allowed to give protocol to any individual or even state guests. When President of Turkey Tayyip Erdogan came to Pakistan, Dolphin Force was not assigned to the protocol duties, but soon after the government changed, the force was asked to give protocol and route duties to the prime minister, president,  governor and even governors of other provinces and their families.

When the wife of Balochistan’s chief minister came to visit Lahore, the route duty was given by Dolphin squad. Sources claim that now the squad also gives protocol duties at the weddings of important personalities.

When Usman Buzdar took charge as Punjab chief minister, he instantly sent 30 bikes to DG Khan from Lahore and one VIGO truck out of four allocated to Dolphin squad’s high-ups.

The other challenge is the decentralization of the squad. It was launched as a centralized unit and an SP was given all the authority. Dolphin Force has its own DSPs, but a source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the interference of divisional SPs and DSPs had badly affected its performance. “Dolphin squad has somehow merged with the local police because the divisional police officers interfere in its duties and direct it as they direct their local police force,” he added.

As this unit gives the maximum authority to its SP, every SP makes his own strategy to run the squad. A total of 8 SPs have been changed till now – Syed Karrar Hussain, Faisal Shahzad, Nadeem Khokar, Mohammad Massom , Ayesha Bhatt, Bilal Zafar, Naveed Irshad and Rashid Hadayat, he told Minute Mirror

He further said that if an SP of any division is a friend of SP Dolphin, he asks for Dolphin teams and mostly misuses the squad by sending it to backward areas like narrow streets that affect the efficiency and performance of the bike. While answering a question, he said that divisional SPs interfere in their working and ask them to patrol continuously, something which is not possible for a heavy bike.

As per bike structure and manufacturing, a 500cc bike can patrol for half an hour and then needs to rest for half an hour, but the local police don’t understand this. “Another problem is maintenance and replacement of vehicles. Out of 600 bikes, 545 are operational. Some with changed engines and others are with maintenance while approximately 55 bikes are not in driving condition,” the source told Minute Mirror.

The spare parts are not available in Pakistan which is why it is very hard to get them. Earlier, the department used to get spare parts for some bikes with a delay of one year. “The department has failed to make a vehicle replacement policy until now,” he added.

The Buzdar government did not focus on the latest training of this specialized squad. The wing failed to undertake the repeated training according to Turkish training standards. Later, Dolphin squad was trained traditionally on the lines of local police.

According to the policy, the squad’s life is six years, and after a duty of six years, officers are supposed to go back to police lines in order to make space for young officers, but unfortunately, that did not happen.

Almost five years have passed and the new batch is not ready to take charge. On another hand, field posting remained a serious issue for Dolphin Force during the PTI government’s time. The department wrote letters to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to declare field posting for Dolphin Force.

Inspector-General of Police wrote the first letter to Board on 14-02-2020 and then a reminder letter was sent by CCPO Lahore on 13-10-2021 but it was not approved by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar. Shehbaz Sharif’s election as the prime minister has given hope to the Dolphin Force officers.



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