Policing the new KP districts

June 20, 2021

Keeping in view the possible spillover of terrorism from Afghanistan, the Counter Terrorism Department of KP is expanding its footprint to the newly merged districts — bringing in new challenges

Policing the new KP districts

Expanding the jurisdiction of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police to the tribal districts has been a subject of controversy and intrigue. However, the merger is now a fact. Keeping in view the possible spillover of terrorism from Afghanistan, the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is also expanding its footprint to the newly merged districts (NMDs) – bringing in new challenges.

A heat map of terrorism incidents in KP clearly shows the NMDs ‘hotter’ than the rest of the province. In the absence of a permanent force, the CTD has had to borrow 15-20 khasadars (tribal police) from the local administration for its operation, says DIG Javed Iqbal Wazir of the CTD.

“Keeping records was a rare practice in what used to be the FATA. The biggest challenge now is to develop an institutional memory for the tribal districts – without it policing and countering terror is impossible” he explains, bemoaning the absence of infrastructure and apparatus for the CTD to function in the NMDs.

But documents available with The News on Sunday show an elaborate plan to revamp the department in line with the new challenges. Rs 2,004 million has been earmarked for the next two years to equip the CTD with the tools to combat militancy and terrorism in the region.

Revamping Counter Terror Infrastructure

“It’s a race against time” says DIG Wazir, burdened with this task.

“We’re introducing a CTD force on the Punjab pattern” he adds. He says a proposals for 715 new posts is being processed. These include DSPs and inspectors of traditional nomenclature, but the nuances are in the form of sergeant majors, corporals and sergeants.

“The CTD has been great in the field but we’re now developing systems” he says.

Introduction of an Android App

The android application provides real-time details of all FIRs of CTD, proclaimed offenders, most-wanted terrorists and the digital surveillance of 4th Schedulers.

“This is important for rapid action,” explains Wazir. “Most of our time is spent in manually tallying details. This will provide enough details to act in time.” He takes pride in the fact that the app was built in-house.

“It’s a race against time” says Javed Iqbal Wazir, the deputy inspector general (DIG) burdened with this task.

The Anti-Extortion Cell

With terrorism comes terror financing. There has been a gradual increase in calls made for extortion across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but particularly in the Peshawar region. “The terrorists are engaging in small scale subversive activities (extortion) to disturb the peace in the region” reads an internal memo for the month of May. Data shows that businessmen and property dealers are frequent targets of extortion calls. Tribe-wise Mohmands and Afridis have received the most calls. TTP stands out amongst the groups making the calls for extortion.

“We have compiled a list of Afghan SIMs and local numbers used for extortion. There has been some success in tracing the local groups” says Wazir. He says they now have a reliable database and can oftn tell whether the extortionists are linked to terrorist organisations or local gangs of criminals posing as terrorists. The department says it has blocked 77 gateways cited for ‘grey traffic’ in coordination with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

Stepping into the Cyber Domain

102 FIRs have been moved by the CTD this year to the FIA Cyber Crime Unit for sharing terrorist content. Although the cyber domain is beyond the direct mandate of the CTD, there is a concerted effort for legislation in the background to be included into the CTD’s ambit because not only are terrorist outfits using social media for communication but they are also reaching out to recruit people to join them. The social media monitoring cell provides real-time tracking of events related to posts and its impact in terms of readers. It also keeps track of all handles and IDs on various platforms that are either looking to recruit fighters from terrorist organisations or donors online.

Big Data System

The launching of Big Data System, installed by National Radio and Telecommunication Corporation. The Big Data System is capable of integrating and analysing vast data: call data records, analysis system, geo fencing, criminal database, prison, tenant information, NADRA record amongst others to collate data with other districts and provinces.

“The key is to link the investigation and technical expertise with social trends” says the DIG. “There is massive human resource at the Research and Analysis Wing that does that.”

“The key for us is to remain a step ahead and not be reactionary,” he concludes.

The writer is a   freelance journalist and a former editor

Policing the new KP districts