PESHAWAR, March 22: As the current spate of militancy has cast a pall of shadow on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, particularly Peshawar, the provincial authorities have found police to be wilfully defying the government’s directives to tackle the menace tactfully.
A confidential official note recently sent to provincial police chief Akbar Khan Hoti by the home and tribal affairs department stated: “Situation in Peshawar is rapidly deteriorating because of wilful disobedience of government directives by the police. The current spate of target killings and practical striking at will in the city by militants is a symptom of this no action.”
The recent brazen attacks on heavily-guarded Judicial Complex, office of the political agent, Khyber Agency in cantonment area and sporadic incidents of target killings in the provincial metropolis have set alarm bells ringing for the relevant circles in the province.
Two militants wearing suicide vests and armed with pistols entered Judicial Complex after passing through security barriers and walkthrough gates on March 18 that showed the level of alertness of the police force.
Four people were killed and 49 wounded in the attack. One bomber detonated suicide vest while another was hit by sharp shooter.
Sources said intelligence outfits had already passed on message to police about possible attack on the compound. Another car bomb ripped through Jalozai camp on Thursday claiming 17 lives while 28 others wounded.
Reports about activities of militants in several districts including Nowshera, Mardan and Swabi have surfaced while former information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain left serious message before dissolution of the government who warned that the situation could go from bad to worse.
The official note said confidential and reliable reports received from state agencies about linkages of some individuals with militant outfits were shared with police officers through relevant commissioners on regular basis.
It, however, added that instead of taking action and proper probe according to the source police in some cases had given a ‘clean chit’ to the suspects on the basis of opinion of local people and in most cases, no action was taken.
Mr Hoti was not available for comments despite repeated attempts by Dawn. Previous cabinet issued directives that wanted elements would be jointly grilled by police and personnel of other intelligence agencies, but that procedure has not been followed.
One report said casual and lukewarm attitude of the police towards sensitive and important issues was very alarming despite clear cut directives of the cabinet, directing relevant officials of the police to probe suspected elements by the joint investigation team.
A total of 1,470 reports involving 2,059 individuals received from different intelligence agencies had been forwarded to the districts across the province since mid 2011, it is learnt.
“If the current lackluster response to the government directives continues it can be safely said more disastrous consequences would accrue in the province and specifically in Peshawar,” warned home department, which further said poor response from field formations of police was one of the main reasons for the prevailing sorry state of affairs vis-à-vis terrorism and militancy.
Random target killings have started in Peshawar and more than 10 people including professionals have been killed and wounded since January last. The Peshawar High Court has taken suo moto notice of target killings, but real culprits are still at large.Police detained a few suspects on the basis of their previous record related to sectarian cases and later, they were set free.
When militancy spread across the province, provincial and federal governments pumped money into the police to cope with the deteriorating situation. Its budget was increased from Rs7 billion to Rs22 billion and strength was enhanced from 35,000 in 2007 to 80,000 in 2012.
Police were given handsome raise in salaries but they still continue to receive illegal gratifications from motorists and drivers at check points, which showed that increase in budget, strength and perks of the force could not bring any qualitative change in policing.
Former provincial home and tribal affairs secretary Brig Mahmood Shah said the police’s efficiency and performance could not be improved by increasing the force strength.
“Our police need paradigm shift, complete reorganisation, training and resources,” he said, adding that only pumping money and increasing its strength could not provide solution.
Mr Shah said there was no chance of improvement unless police force got rid of outdated culture. He said mechanism of intelligence gathering also required lot of improvement and terrorism could not be countered by conveying simple massage to police about the entry of terrorists.