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Pakistan: Police Insecure in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

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By Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

Five Policemen and a civilian were killed in an attack at the Zangli Checkpost on the Kohat-Peshawar road in the Badhaber area of Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), on April 21, 2014. KP Inspector General of Police (IGP) Nasir Khan Durrani asserted, on April 22, that the Badhaber attack was a repercussion of the Police’s search operation against terrorists on the outskirts of Peshawar. Police arrested several injured people from Peshawar hospitals in connection with the attack. Sources in the local Police claimed that all the suspects had bullets injuries and belonged to the Khyber Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Elsewhere in the province, on the same day, a Police mobile van was targeted by an improvised explosive device (IED) at Farooq Azam Chowk in the Tehsil Bazaar of Charsadda town. At least three persons, including two Policemen, were killed and another 30 were injured in the explosion. District Police Officer Charsadda, Shafiullah Khan, disclosed that the explosive material had been planted in a motorcycle and the Police mobile van was the primary target. The dead also included a shopkeeper.

Further, on April 27, a Police constable, Siraj Gul, was killed while another constable, Akhtar Ali, was injured, when unidentified militants attacked them near the Bakhshu Pul area under the jurisdiction of Khazana Police Station in Peshawar. Senior Superintendent of Police-Operations, Najibur Rehman, lamented that Police personnel were deployed at spots where they were targets for terrorists due to the lack of protective gear, including helmets and bullet-proof jackets.

Meanwhile, on April 21 itself, the Provincial Police Department sought authority from the Federal Government to carry out operations in the tribal areas outside the Province. IGP Durrani stated that the long boundary from Bajaur Agency up to the South Waziristan Agency posed a serious problem for the settled towns of KP. Anybody could enter the settled areas and launch a terrorist attack, but Police pursuing them had to stop when they reached the FATA tribal belt. 

The attack on the Police again demonstrated that, no matter how far the Government went with the peace-talk with the terrorists, the threat to the Police remained the same, even as gaping loopholes in the security arrangements persisted. Nevertheless, IGP Durrani asserted, on March 28, 2014, that the KP Police was ready to respond to any security threat in case peace negotiations with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) failed.

The Police, however, have been ineffectual in containing the terrorist campaign. On March 14, 2014, for instance, 11 persons were killed and another 45 were injured in a suicide attack targeting the Police in the Sarband area of Peshawar. Despite the ongoing Government-TTP peace-talks, a TTP splinter group, Ahrar-ul-Hind (AH) claimed responsibility for the attack. “We claim both Peshawar and Quetta attacks," AH 'chief' Umar Qasmi declared, “We don't abide by these talks and will continue to stage attacks."

The TTP’s ceasefire which started on March 1, ended on April 10, with the terror group's leaders alleging that there was "no positive response" from the Government. However, there was a series of attacks on the SFs during the ceasefire period as well. According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), 40 Policemen were killed and another 86 were injured in 23 incidents of terrorist attack on the Police in the first four months of 2014 in KP. Of these, three incidents occurred during the ceasefire period, including one suicide attack in which 14 Policemen were killed and 45 others were injured.

Fatalities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 2005-2014*

Years

Civilians

Security Forces (SFs)

Militants

Total

2006

60

13

27

100

2007

393

221

372

986

2008

868

255

1078

2201

2009

1229

471

3797

5497

2010

607

96

509

1212

2011

511

331

364

1206

2012

363

98

195

656

2013

603

172

161

936

2014

151

64

32

247

Total

4785

1721

6535

13041

 Source: SATP, *Data till April 27, 2014

 

Attacks on Police in KP: 2006-2014*

Years

Incidents

Policemen Killed

Policemen Injured

Suicide attacks on Police

2006

3

1

3

1

2007

45

49

184

7

2008

90

126

247

9

2009

72

105

305

19

2010

25

51

96

8

2011

58

112

267

8

2012

64

58

121

9

2013

89

91

85

5

2014

23

40

86

1

Total

469

633

1394

67

 Source: SATP, *Data till April 27 , 2014

 

Overall terrorism-related fatalities in KP had been declining after 2010, but this trend was reversed in 2013. According to SATP’s partial data, KP saw at least 936 fatalities, including 603 civilians, 172 SF personnel and 161 terrorists, in 210 incidents of killing in 2013, as compared 656 fatalities, including 363 civilians, 195 militants and 98 SF personnel, in 170 such incidents, in 2012. The first four months of 2014 have already recorded 247 killings, including 151 civilians, 64 SF personnel and 32 terrorists, in 80 incidents of killing.

With total SF fatalities rising from 98 in 2012 to 172 in 2013, the number of KP Policemen killed also increased from 58 in 2012 to 91 in 2013. Out of 64 SF personnel killed in first four months of 2014, 40 are KP Policemen.

Since the start of Army operation in KP's Swat Valley in 2009, a sizable number of Army troops have also been operating in Swat, Malakand, Dir, Buner and Shangla (exact numbers are not available). On September 14, 2013, KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak approved withdrawal of the Army from the Malakand Division, and the process of pulling out troops from Shangla and Buner Districts was scheduled to start from the following month. In a subsequent phase, troops were to be pulled out from Swat, Upper and Lower Dir Districts and other parts of the Malakand Division. On September 17, 2013, however, the Peshawar High Court stopped the KP Government from withdrawing the Army. Peshawar High Court's Chief Justice, Dost Muhammad Khan, observed that the Army had been deployed in these areas for many years to restore peace, and its withdrawal would create a vacuum there.  

Several senior Police officers also fell prey to the terrorists over this period. These prominently included:   

May 24, 2013: Six Policemen were killed and a District Police Officer (DPO) and his guard were injured when terrorists attacked their vehicles with rockets on the Indus Highway in the Mattani area of Darra Adamkhel District.

October 14, 2012: Five SF personnel, including the Superintendent of Police (SP) Rural, Khurshid Khan, were killed, while 10 Police and FC men were injured when TTP terrorists attacked two check posts of the Mattani Police Station on the outskirts of Peshawar.

March 15, 2012: SP Abdul Kalam Khan was killed and five others were injured in a suicide attack on his car at Pishtakhara Chowk in Peshawar.  

August 4, 2010: Additional Inspector General of Police Safwat Ghayur was killed in a suicide attack outside his office in Peshawar.

April 19, 2010: Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Gulfat Hussain was killed in a suicide attack in the Qissa Khawani area of Peshawar.

February 11, 2010: DPO Mohammad Iqbal Marwat was killed in twin bomb blasts outside a Police training centre in Bannu District.

June 5, 2009: Farid Hussain Bangash, DSP, Mardan (Rural), was killed in a gun-battle when terrorists attacked a Buner-bound joint Police and Frontier Constabulary (FC) convoy at Natian in Mardan District. 

April 27, 2009: DSP Asmatullah Khattak and five of his bodyguards were killed on their way to Lakki Marwat from Bannu, when his van struck a remote controlled bomb on the Lakki-Tajazai Road in Lakki Marwat.

February 28, 2008: DSP Lakki Marwat, Javed Iqbal, was killed in a bomb blast in southern Lakki Marwat. Later, Iqbal’s funeral procession was attacked by a suicide bomber, on March 1, 2008, in his native Swat, in Mingora, killing over 60 people, including his son and another Police officer.

January 27, 2007: Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Malik Mohammad Saad and DSP Khan Raziq were killed in a suicide attack on a Muharram procession in Peshawar.

December 18, 2006: DIG, Bannu, Abid Ali, was killed along with his driver, while coming from Bannu to Peshawar, near Matani town on Kohat Road.

The Police in KP have a sanctioned strength of 78,320 and a population of about 22 million, yielding a fairly healthy ratio of 356 Policemen per 100,000 population. With the formation of the Special Anti-Terrorism Force and Special Prisons Force in October 2013, another two Police Forces have been introduced in KP, where a number of uniformed forces, including the Army, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the Anti-Narcotics Force, and the Excise Police Force, already operate.

On November 28, 2013, the KP Government renamed the Directorate of Counter Terrorism (DCT) of the Police Department, the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), with an enlarged mandate, including intelligence collection, surveillance and monitoring, registration of terrorism cases, investigation of Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) cases, arrest and detention, and research and analysis. The strength of DCT has been merged into CTD, and the total sanctioned strength of CTD will be 2,350, including one DIG, 12 SPs, 43 DSPs, 153 Inspectors, 289 Sub-Inspectors (SI), 249 Assistant Sub-Inspectors (ASI), 314 Head constables (HC), 1,170 Frontier Corps (FC) personnel, and 119 Drivers. For operational purposes, seven CTD Police Stations (one at Capital City Police and one each at six Regional headquarters), will be established.  

But the creation of the new Forces is yet to have a measurable impact on terrorism in the Province. According to statistics compiled by the Central Police Office in Peshawar, 1,002 Policemen had been killed in suicide attacks, bombings, ambushes, rocket attacks and other incidents, while fighting terrorists, since January 2006, according to a KP Police statement on April 2, 2014. More than 2,072 others were injured. Peshawar had the highest death toll among the 25 KP Districts, at 265. Kohistan remained the only District in the Province where no Police officer has been killed or wounded over this period. The worst year was 2009, when 201 Policemen were killed fighting terrorists. 31 policemen had already been killed in 2014 on the date of these disclosures.

Despite the apparently healthy sanctioned strength, KP Police is riddled with deficits, particularly at the leadership level. About 60 per cent of posts for Grade 21 Additional Inspectors General (IGs), 56 per cent of grade 20 Deputy Inspectors General (DIGs) and 42 per cent of Grade 19 and 18 Assistant Inspectors General, Senior Superintendents of Police (SSPs) and SPs are vacant, or are being filled by junior officers, according to official statistics. IG Durrani disclosed, "We have asked the Federal and Provincial Governments on a number of occasions to post senior Police officers because a large number of positions are vacant in KP." There are more than 73,000 Police officials in all the Districts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Further, sub-standard weapons at the disposal of KP Police have also raised a question mark on its fighting capacity. Very recently on April 22, 2014, the KP Police Department blacklisted four firms in connection with the supply of substandard weapons, ammunition and other equipment for the Police force. The KP Police had carried out the procurement of weapons, ammunition and other equipment for operational policing in 2008 and 2009 through competitive tenders. In addition to Majeed and Sons, which is already blacklisted, the name of its sister firms have also surfaced. These include Shayan-e-Sarhad Enterprises, Peshawar; Al Moiz Trading Cooperation Peshawar; Shahid Traders Peshawar; and Shaheer Trading Company Peshawar, according to an official communiqué.

The KP Government has announced several measures to revamp its Police Force to improve provincial security. KP Police implemented several changes at two Police Stations in the Province and declared them as models. All of the Province's 210 Police Stations are to be converted into model stations within three years, commencing October 2013, Ehsan Ghani, former KP IGP disclosed. The model stations are well armed and staffed with enough properly trained officers. More sniffer dogs and bomb detectors will be added, allowing Police to stage random sweeps for explosives. In August, the Provincial Force recruited 1,300 Policemen in Peshawar, according to Ghani, who noted, further, "We need at least 8,000 more Policemen in the Province to meet the present challenges."

In January 2014, the KP Government requested the Federal Government to categorize the Province as a "hard area", so that KP could better cope with the law-and-order situation. Classifying KP as a “hard area” would make postings to KP more attractive for senior officers, since such postings are mandatory for promotions. The provincial IG of Police Nasir Khan Durrani lamented, "We have asked the Federal and Provincial Governments on a number of occasions to post senior police officers because a large number of positions are vacant in KP." However, the requests have met with little result. 

On March 17, 2014, KP Chief Minister (CM) Pervez Khattak announced a raise in the salaries of the provincial Police. Emphasizing that hundreds of Policemen had sacrificed their lives for the security of the people, he announced incentives and measures for improvement in the KP Police.

The steady stream of Police fatalities in KP indicate that the various measures implemented are yet to have a decisive impact on the ground, and that the Government continues to dither over other crucial pending measures.

[Source: SATP]

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