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February 28, 2015

Touted as Sindh’s SWAT force, SSU all set to take on terror


February 28, 2015


As Sindh works on improving its security and counter-terror capabilities, the province’s police force has received an encouraging boost in the form of the elite Special Security Unit (SSU) which, according to its chief AIGP Maqsood Ahmed, is now all set to take the fight to terrorists active in Sindh’s urban and rural areas.
Formed in July 2010 as part of then-president Asif Ali Zardari’s vision for provincial security, the SSU was initially tasked with protecting VVIPs. However, AIGP Ahmed, who was posted as SSP VVIP Security with the Capital City Police, and his team had been working persistently on plans to upgrade the SSU into a specialised security group; much like the famed Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) force operational in the United States.
The hard work, it seems, has finally paid off as, in a talk with The News on Friday, AIGP Ahmed confirmed that the SSU now has all necessary resources and clearances to function as a dedicated special security force for Sindh.
“The ratio in the province right now is a single policeman for 514 people, mostly due to security needs of VVIPs, important installations and assets and related protocols. Given the increasing terror threats, this has been a pressing cause for concern and we hope the SSU can bridge this gap,” said AIGP Ahmed.
“The SSU was Asif Ali Zardari’s plan and our objective today remains the same; to help meet Sindh’s increasing security needs and do our best to protect citizens and installations.”

Selection and equipment
He said the need for an exclusive security apparatus had grown manifold in light of increased terror attacks across the country. “The success of the SSU comes down to the fact that a comprehensive strategic plan was patiently developed and implemented in several phases. Initially, new personnel were recruited against a strict selection criterion; to ensure transparency and merit-based hiring, only candidates who cleared aptitude

tests from the National Testing Service (NTS) were selected,” said the SSU chief.
The age limit for candidates was set at 28 years and medical and physical fitness was a priority area. He added that financial security of personnel remains a main motivation factor, which is why it was decided that the minimum salary package for SSU men would be Rs40,000 per month.
With assignments ranging from protection of important personalities and vital installations to counter-terrorism combat operations, the presently 2,000-strong unit’s armoury was a key focus and has been equipped with modern, sophisticated weapons and gear.
According to AIGP Ahmed, with the recent addition of M4 rifles, the SSU is now only inferior – solely weapons wise – to the armed forces of Pakistan. Along with the M4s, the unit has Light Machine Guns (LMGs), G3 rifles, assault rifles, sniper rifles, AK-47s, 9mm Glock, Smith and Wesson and Beretta pistols, rocket launchers, grenade launchers and RPGs.
Moreover, acquisition of PS90 rifles, MP7 rifles, folding machine guns and corner short grenade launchers remains in process.
Along with assault weapons, the SSU also has modern tactical and protective gear such as night-vision goggles with headgear, tactical lights and thermal imagers, bulletproof jackets and frequency jammers.
With mobility and minimal response time a priority, the SSU also has an expansive transport fleet at its disposal complete with escort mobiles, bulletproof escort vehicles (Toyota Fortuner and Toyota Vigo); 1300cc, 1000cc and 250cc motorbikes; 13-seater, 26-seater and 42-seater buses, as well as motorcade ambulances.
“The SSU meets all international counter-terrorism standards. We are fully prepared to conduct operations against criminals and terrorists with precision, accuracy and professionalism,” said AIGP Ahmed, adding that plans to recruit 1,000 more personnel were being worked out.
Public security plans
However, the SSU chief was quick to add that only combative preparations were not enough to change around Sindh’s crime and terrorism scenario. To this end, he said, work was underway on three special projects aimed at public protection and welfare.
The first of the three is a Police Emergency Service (9211), an integrated helpline that aims to bring together all emergency services on one platform.
“Fire teams, ambulance providers, utility services and law enforcers will all be accessible from a single control room; response and coordination will improve drastically,” said AIGP Ahmed.
The second project being worked upon are Police Facilitation Centres (PFCs). “By setting up centres with qualified and trained staff, we aim to help people resolve minor issues without having to go to police stations. The PFCs will provide round-the-clock service and, along with facilitating complaint registration, will also proffer legal guidance to citizens,” he said.
AIGP Ahmed acknowledged that the last of these projects – a university for counter-terrorism training – has more to do with law enforcement requirements. “For complete eradication of terrorism, our law enforcers must be given the best training and this university is our shot at making that possible,” he said.




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