Waist not: Pakistan police on notice to shed weight
Ben Doherty, Lahore, Pakistan
June 20, 2012
The stereotype of the doughnut-munching policeman needs some modification in Pakistan.
The stereotype of the doughnut-munching policeman needs some modification in Pakistan. Photo: AFP
PUNJAB'S pudgy policemen have been given a fortnight to lose their pot bellies or be stood down from active service.
The stereotype of the doughnut-munching policeman needs some modification in Pakistan - diets here are rich in meat, oil and ghee, and the prominent protuberance has become synonymous with the dark Punjabi police uniform as a sign of authority. A survey by local daily The News found more than 77 per cent of officers in the garrison city of Rawalpindi were overweight.
But the police chief of Pakistan's most populous province, Mohammad Habib-ur-Rehman, says he is determined to ''turn the force into a fit one''.
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He has ordered all 175,000 officers under his command to reduce their waistlines to below 38 inches (96.5 centimetres) by June 30 or face being moved to desk jobs on reduced pay.
On July 1, every officer in the force will face the chief's tape measure to see that they measure up. ''I'm on a diet, and if I can do it, why can't you?'' the chief allegedly told officials.
A spokeswoman for Mr Habib-ur-Rehman's office, Nabila Ghazanfar, said policemen were taking the edict seriously: ''Officials are joining gyms, jogging and doing other exercise … to become thin and slim.''
Overweight officers were ineffective, she said; they ''cannot chase bandits, robbers and other criminals properly''.
But Ms Ghazanfar said a chronic shortage of police officers was harming the force's fight against fat. ''We have a shortage of personnel. What can you expect when one official is doing the job of six people? They don't get time for physical fitness.''
But this is not a good time for Punjab to have its policemen, already in short supply, deskbound. The state has been rocked in recent days by a series of violent protests over chronic electricity shortages. Rioters this week attacked police stations, threw rocks at the homes of government officials and set fire to a train.
The police's problems may simply be a portent of things to come for Pakistan.
Obesity and associated illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease are rising sharply across Pakistan, particularly as more and more people move to cities. ''In Pakistan, the obesity level among rural areas is found to be 9 per cent in males and 14 per cent in women, while in urban areas the situation is quite alarming - 22 per cent in men and 37 per cent in women,'' Rizwana Waraich from the Dr Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research told a recent conference.
''The higher obesity level in urban areas is due to their changing lifestyle, high fat and carbohydrate-rich diet and lack of exercise.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/world/waist...#ixzz1z6lYXeoR