by Chi Ibe
Health conscious Habibur Rehman, police chief in Pakistan’s most populous province Punjab, has ordered about 175,000 pot-bellied officers to diet and make sure their waistlines donot exceed 38 inches (96 cm).
According the chief’s spokeswoman Nabila Ghazanfar, at least 50 percent of Punjab police are overweight. “I’m on a diet and if I can do it, why can’t you?” she quoted Rehman as telling officials last month in the province.
Police told AFP that officers had been given until June 30 to shape up and those deemed too fat from July 1 would not be given jobs in the field. “Police officials are joining gyms, jogging and doing other exercise, including a lot of running to become thin and slim,” Ghazanfar said.
Overweight officers are ineffective and “cannot chase bandits, robbers and other criminals properly”, she added, blaming the problem on under-staffing.
“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,” she told AFP.
Pakistan is ranked 165 of 194 on the Forbes list of fattest countries, with 22.2 percent of the population considered overweight despite immense poverty faced by millions in the country.