Akbar Nasir Khan
For the decision-makers, civilians or military, elected or unelected, the easiest way of not addressing any serious issue, especially after some major incident, is to make any public official a scapegoat. Normally the public servant is suspended or transferred and if the incident is highlighted by media then an enquiry or commission is also tasked to decide about the fate of the officers. This happened in most of the incidents of law enforcement “failures” in Islamabad when President Musharraf was attacked; in case of Joseph Colony attacks on Christians in Lahore and after the attacks on Sri Lankan Cricket Team; after the Bannu and Dera Ismael Khan Prison breaks and very recently after the Church attack in Peshawar. IGP of KPEhsanGhani is transferred and command has fallen on the shoulders of IGP Nasir Durrani who was heading counter terrorism department (CTD) in the Punjab Police. It is interesting to note that his predecessor IGP MushtaqSukhera is dealing with even more challenging job of handling the security situation in Balochistan. Regardless of the personal competence and very high professional standing of Police Chiefs in these provinces, the challenges are gigantic.
The biggest challenge for law enforcement agencies is political in nature. PTI and PML (N) are dying to live with Taliban and TTP is bent upon purging the Pakistan from “impurities” like Shias, Qadianies and Christians. Supporters of talks are hell bent to prove that the suicide attacks on All Saints Church in Peshawar City is work of saboteurs and TTP is as unhappy on this event as the Pope can be. With government finding the cell numbers of TTP to finalise the terms of peace deal and LEAs tasked upon preventing the jail breaks by TTP, any consensus on any action plan by the political leadership and government machinery following their directions is impossible. Unconditional, one-sided ceasefire by the GoKP and Government of Pakistan (GoP) is making Police and army nothing more than sitting ducks what to say about minorities who are not armed and have no mandate to carry arms. Till the time TTP announces a gracious ceasefire, coffins preparation will remain in progress.
Coordination among the civil-civil and civil-military set ups is another hurdle. An unending rivalry among the Police versus Political administration in the province and FATAis not addressed by the political leaders yet. Biases at the professional groups level in the civilian set up are visible and cannot be mitigated even under the military rule rather these are further pronounced by the divide and rule policy. Even if the top leadership of bureaucracy sees eye to eye on security issues, as was the case from 2004 to 2007, the hawks of these services at the operational level are not willing to burry the hatchets. In the post 9/11 scenario and many other changes like information technology, colonial set ups cannot be sustained and as we witnessed in DIKhan, not even a single soldier or constable was ready to take the bullet in the name of duty. Any sermons and directives will not resolve this matter until clear responsibilities are delineated and such divisions among civilian administrators and armed civil LEAs are discouraged. After this clarity, the professional working of the LEAs including intelligence sharing among civil-civil authorities can result in better prevention of the lethal incidents.
On operational level, lack of information and quality intelligence sharing is most crucial issue. In both the provinces, hubs of terrorists do not fall under the operational control of the Police. In Balochistan, 95% B area is not controlled by one single force. Balochistan levies and Frontier Corps deal with these areas and often delay in communication and coordination among the Police and these agencies results in undesired incidents causing irreparable human losses. In case of KP, FATA is also a case like B Area of Balochistan and even much more inaccessible for the Police. Territorial control of the state is limited to selected areas, practically authorized by the Taliban. The Police has much less access to actionable information and intelligence as compared to military Intelligence agencies and IB. Special Branch of Police is seriously handicapped and needs lot of input in quality human and material resources.
At the grass root level, the morale of the officers of Police Service is at lowest ebbs, like military officers. Political confusion may remain a matter of dialogue and convening anther APC or talks among the stakeholders, but it translates into causalities of Police and Army officers who are serving at the check points and field officers not sure whether they have to arrest MullaBradar and affiliates or Salute him as emissary of United Emirates of Taliban.
A positive sign is the resolve of the government to appoint professional leaders to tackle the situation. This hope is topped up by the willingness of the donor community to invest in the KP and Balochistan police and showing their commitment to build the capacity of the LEAs on long-term basis. Test is for Political leadership of KP, whether they want a secure KP and invest in the security sector or they are swept away with mundane choices of appointing their favorites as SHOs and DPOs of their native police stations and Districts.
Given the free hand to ameliorate the law orders situation and defend KP, present Police leadership is very capable to make following three improvements.
First, the experience of Special Branch and CTD in Punjab, new leadership has full knowledge about groups operating from or linked to Punjabi Taliban. This will be very crucial to give a serious blow to TTP, if desired, by the political masters. Secondly, counting more on the ability of teambuilding of the new leadership, it is quite possible that civil-civil and civil-military rivalries are addressed. Though for a shorter period police, administration and military can be united on one single agenda-to make KP a safer place for people of KP. It is a pre-requisite for talks also no matter how vehemently one opposes this idea. Thirdly, the real test is to win the trust of the people so they can share with the LEAs information and help the police in rooting out the terrorists from the established and fully controlled urban areas. KP Police has won the hearts of the people by sacrifices but it is the time to win the minds by implementing successful operations and bringing not only the culprits in the jails but also not letting them walk out from jails by Adnan Rasheeds.