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January 22, 2015

War on terror: police need proactive strategy


January 22, 2015

Pakistan is in a state of war against terrorism for more than one decade and a series of internal and external challenges are taking toll in the form of losses of life and property almost daily.
Those responsible for maintaining law and order are justifying causes of malfunctioning of police with unimpressive logic in favour and against the police structure.
Amidst these serious challenges and terror attacks, the police force is struggling against its own challenges relating to insufficient resources and lack of competent, professional, committed and upright officers, while conventional police training has failed altogether against tactics of the organised criminals.
At a time when Pakistan is waging a war against terrorism, our police force is not being trained in the parameters of anti-terrorism mechanism and there are only a few officials who have anti-terrorism training.
The majority of police officials are still using outdated weapons and a sense of insensitivity towards their duty doesn't create a spark among them to accomplish their responsibilities with regard to the ongoing challenges, especially handling terrorism.
The top bosses of the Ministry of Interior and police initiated various measures to motivate the police force and urge police to play a proactive role, but all these steps proved unfruitful. They suspended and removed various police officials from their offices but could not get the desired results from police. No doubt, police officials after sit-in protests in the federal capital got anti-riot gears, but the issue is that the same old spirit is there under these kits.
On the other hand, the Elite Force, which is well trained and equipped with sophisticated weapons, is tasked to ensure security of VIPs and high officials. The personnel of Elite Force, which was established envisaging terror activities, are permanently associated as squads of ministers and VIPs security against their conceived objectives.

Due to absence of a cohesive strategy and policy mechanism for the police force, the government has tasked rangers to patrol in major cities of the country. Joint patrolling teams of police and rangers have been formed to avert any untoward incident.
No other force than police can play an effective role at the grass-roots level to keep check on activities of the suspected people. For this purpose, the initiative of the Islamabad Police of making vigilance committees in streets is exemplary, which can be followed by the police force across the country.
The anti-terrorism helpline '1717' should be advertised to create public awareness about this facility and keep a check on activities of the suspected individuals and root out the menace of terrorism.
Similarly, the initiative of the Ministry of Interior for bio-metric verification of mobile SIM cards is quite effective in keeping a check on unregistered SIM cards. This initiative would rather bulwark against suspect activities through mobile networks. But the question mark will remain there, how the law will be implemented effectively?
The irony of the situation is that despite all security challenges, our law enforcement agencies never initiated a proactive strategy against organised crime and terrorism but working on reactive strategy for decades, that's why any counter terrorism mechanism and policy has not yet been developed in the country and whenever any incident is reported, police as well as the government focused on stop-gap arrangements to hide intensity of crime and terrorism.
Police stations taking a proactive stance should keep check on surroundings of their jurisdictions in routine and slums as well as under-construction sites should be checked in routine but it has been usually reported that police officials remained busy in making money from public in the name of checking at entrance and exit points of the city.
Police pickets, due to conventional ways of checking, have lost their effectiveness as police officials deputed at these checkpoints were burdened and exhausted due to long hours of duty and worsening living conditions in barracks. Contrary to police officials, rangers are far better for vigilance purposes because of their training and facilities.
High police officials usually remain busy in getting into good books of politicians and government representatives to gain benefits and attractive postings, altogether ignoring their basic responsibilities that allowed a vicious circle from top to bottom for their duties.
The National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) was established with the core objective of ensuring coordination among all civil, armed and intelligence forces and for this purpose the Joint Intelligence Directorate has yet to be formed to work like umbrella for mutual coordination of intelligence agencies and police force.
There is not yet any cohesive mechanism among civil and armed forces, nor any parameter has been set to fix their responsibilities and working limits. The police force works with its own procedure without effective coordination, cooperation and sharing of information from intelligence agencies, according to police officers

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