The weight of Pakistani police officers has come under the spotlight, with authorities cracking down on portly officers who are failing to perform their duties.

The crackdown came after only a quarter of the 19,000 officers in the Punjab province passed a fitness test.

Plump policemen have been the butt of jokes for local television channels which often screen footage of overweight officers.

They are shown snoozing in chairs, talking on phones and standing belly to belly, buckles straining.

The unflattering coverage has made Punjab's Inspector General of Police, Habib ur-Rehman, take action.

Last month, plump police, responsible for safeguarding the most populous province, were warned in letters to trim their waist-lines to the regulation 38 inches by the end of the month. The deadline was later extended to July 7.

Those who fail may be removed from field duties, police officials have warned.

The new orders saw portly policemen heading for parks and gyms to burn off their extra fat before the deadline.

"My weight was 110kgs. Now I have lost five kilograms. My waist was 43 inches. I have lost three inches there also," said one policeman exercising among fellow sweaty officers as an instructor made them exercise on the lawns of the police compound in Lahore.

"We have had very good results. On an average they have lost about four inches around their waists and they are feeling much better than before," said Romail Akram, superintendent of Punjab's Elite Police.

Female police officers were not exempt from the new orders.

"Our duties are such that we need to be swift. Therefore the most important thing is that police officials should not be overweight," said policewoman Irum Shahzadi.

Source: Agencies