RAWALPINDI: Expressing concern over the deteriorating professional capacity of Elite Force, the additional inspector general (AIG) of the force has directed the divisional police chiefs to use regular police force for escort and static point duties instead of using the specialised commandos.

The move by the AIG came about after a suicide bomber blew himself near an Elite Force van parked outside the gate reserved for women visitors at Data Darbar on Wednesday.

Five police officials were martyred in the attack.

AIG directs divisional police chiefs to use regular police instead

“Due to use of Elite Force for minor raids and petty duties, it has been losing its efficiency and deterrence,” the AIG said in his directive to the divisional police chiefs.

The Elite Force should be used against offences, operations and raids where highly skilled force is required.

He said since the Elite Force was highly trained to fight terrorism and conducting high-risk operations, the regular police should be used for normal duties and routine operations.

A former Punjab police chief had also taken notice of improper utilisation of the Elite Force and directed the police to use the commandos only for what they were trained instead of deploying them on escort and static point duties.

According to police sources, an average of 25 per cent of the Elite Force have been deployed on escort duties while only 3.5 per cent of the force is available for special raids and operations against hardened criminals.

Many districts, including Rawalpindi, do not have any strength available for such raids or operations against criminals and terrorists. And about 40 per cent of the Elite Force commandos trained for counter-terrorism operations have been performing escort duties in Rawalpindi.

According to the standard operating procedure (SOP) for the duty hours, the Elite Force have been performing duty for eight hours a day.

In addition to deployment at power development projects in Rawalpindi division, the force has been deployed at Police College Sihala, Police Training School Rawat, Central Jail Adiala, Police Lines Headquarters and Islamabad International Airport.

Some personnel of the Elite Force have been deployed for the security of political personalities who have been facing life threats.

Following the fresh orders, the Elite Force commandos have been withdrawn from static point duties in different parts of Rawalpindi district.

The Elite Force, a specialised unit of Punjab police, was formed in 1998 by the then provincial government to fight terrorism but by the time its duties expanded to escort VIPs.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2019