By Shaharyar Babar
A group of some six gunmen, armed with pistols and riding on motorbikes in 3 groups of 2 each, intercepted a bus, carrying ordinary members of Ismaili community, and opened indiscriminate firing on the passengers, killing nearly 43 and injuring many others, last Tuesday.
The incident, keeping the decade old wave of terror in country, is not something of an exception though. Yet the tragic incident surfaces a number of very serious questions with regard to security and intelligence mechanisms of provincial governments across the country and the proactive and reactive policing methodologies, especially with regard to Sindh province.
Pakistan Army and its affiliated intelligence components including the Military Intelligence (MI) and the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) are hectically engaged in the successful winding up of country’s history’s biggest anti-terror operation, code named “Operation Zarab-e-Azb”, which is being carried out, so far with a huge and unprecedented success. Right at the start of this operation, the military leadership had very clearly warned the political leadership of the reverse reaction to this operation in the settled areas and thus suggested that extraordinary security measures and state of the art intelligence mechanism by the civilian intelligence agencies of all the province be devised, coupled with the availability of an highly accurate proactive and reactive policing system at the same time. The provincial Intelligence mechanisms including the CID Departments, Special Branch and the Police Intelligence Units (PIUs) were given crystal clear threat perceptions by the combating military commanders and the governments of all the provinces were requested to ensure the process of depoliticizing of the police departments, with immediate work in mega cities and provincial metropolises.
However, owing to the traditional lethargic attitude and due to the historic ‘ take it easy” style of the political governments at all the provinces, failed to bring any change in the provincial security and intelligence components. Punjab made the only exception and formed Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) and thus the occurrence of the terror incidents remained fairly low in Punjab with regard to other provinces. Punjab government though could not make any major breakthrough with regard to depoliticizing of the Police Department. Yet, apart from forming the CTD, the Punjab government also enhanced the capacity of the provincial agencies like the Special branch, the CID and also the PIUs.
Karachi carnage of Tuesday is a crystal clear example of the extremely lethargic attitude of the provincial government with regard to taking the advices of the military leadership on taking solid and speedy measures for countering reaction to “Operation Zarb-e-Azb”. The Tuesday’s tragedy clearly exposes that the the police and other provincial security and intelligence agencies of the province, especially of the Provincial Capital of Karachi, miserably and shamefully failed in perceiving and countering very possible threats to the lives of innocent citizens and that too of a rather fragile community.
The Karachi carnage is more than enough to spread a wave of anger and disappointment amongst the general public with regard to the ability of provincial governments and provincial police and intelligence mechanisms in protecting and securing the lives of the tax payers, especially in mega cities where the maximum revenues are generated by provincial governments from taxing the citizens. The Karachi massacre has put the citizens to a state of acute disappointment with regard to the capacity building of the police force as well as provincial intelligence and security apparatuses. This incident proves that the police and provincial security agencies are standing rather there where they were some ten years back and they have adamantly refused to gear up and prepare themselves according the prevailing challenges and threats. This incident indicates that there was attention paid to collecting sufficient intelligence by local police and Special Branch as well as CID departments with regard to safeguarding, particularly the group movements of members of any small community. It also elaborates that while there was proactive policing that could have averted such an incident to happen, right there, there was no reactive policing that could have blocked, nabbed or killed the terrorists during or after the attack. It proves that while the attackers conducted a comprehensive intelligence gathering about their targets, local police and CID departments completely fail to make any intelligence collection of the same. and this all happened when the Rangers were also deployed in the city, a fact that should have been taken by police and CID etc as blessing and a relief for preparing unique and advanced methodologies to ensure the safety and security of the citizens and to perceive threats and to devise measures to counter the same with innovation while the major burden of the crime countering was being shared by the Rangers.
On the other side, certain police officers and a few of their likeminded media wizards and pseudo intellectual are trying to give an impression through media reports and public discussions as if the Karachi carnage was a failure of ISI and Rangers etc. Without realizing that the safety of the lives of citizens is the basic duty of the provincial governments, doing so through provincial police departments and provincial intelligence and security apparatuses. Saving the life of the citizens, especially from internal threats has never been a subject, related to agencies like ISI or the MI but the basic and the primary duty of the provincial security and law enforcing as well as spy agencies.
It is being completely ignored that to catch up with the global media trends of grabbing ISI etc for every security breach in Pakistan, the local media wizards and pseudo intellectuals are leaving aside the basic menace of inability of provincial counter terror and intelligence collection mechanisms and the drawbacks in the performance of the police force.
The Tuesday’s massacre is a test case to gauge where our provincial security and intelligence components are standing today and where our provincial political leaderships are placed with regard to getting updated for taking up the serious and highly sensitive challenge of countering terrorism through joint and synchronized efforts and to ensure safety and security of the citizens.
Writer is a student at premier educational institute in Islamabad
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The 68th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China.
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