KARACHI: The Sindh police have sought installation of modern and high-tech scanners on key exit and entrance points of Karachi as well as within the city in an attempt to check movement of suspicious vehicles on roads, officials and sources said on Saturday.

They said the Sindh police for a long time had been pleading for scanners to be installed at key points mainly on the city’s exit and entrance and for that they had approached the authorities concerned to get the nod for procurement.

“The issue came under the spotlight recently when the Pakistan Stock Exchange came under an armed attack,” said a source citing the background of the proposal. “The investigation into the incident showed serious loopholes and lack of capacity of the police in a few areas. One of which was free movement of [the militants in] a vehicle carrying arms, ammunition and explosives within the city.”

Unchecked movement of PSX attackers has brought the importance of the equipment under the spotlight

The findings, he said, pushed the police authorities to further build their case for installation of scanners at key points of the city connecting it with other cities of the province and Balochistan.

“Similarly, it was also proposed that some of the areas within the city should also be covered. Snap-checking following any lead or an intelligence report sometimes causes inconvenience and attracts strong reaction from the people. The technology can help in this regard,” he added.

The PSX had come under attack in June when four heavily armed assailants lobbed grenades at its entrance and opened fire on security guards and officials before being killed in an exchange of fire that also claimed the lives of a police officer and three guards.

The outlawed Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility through social media. Rangers chief Major General Omar Bukhari had said that the attack reflected the “frustration” of Indian agency RAW over peace in Pakistan’s financial hub, and it was not possible without the help of any foreign hostile agency.

Three of the attackers were later identified as Salman, Tasleem Baloch and Siraj through their fingerprints.

The fresh coordination between the law enforcement agencies seems to be the result of such findings.

Financial support from Sindh govt sought

“It emerged during the course of the probe that the armed men entered the city through regular and formal routes and managed to reach their destination in the heart of the city successfully. It’s difficult to check every moving vehicle and only technology can help in this new trend of crime and terrorism,” said a senior official while confirming the proposal for the procurement of the scanner for the Sindh police.

He said the Sindh police budget had a limited capacity of procurement and the law enforcement agency had sought support from the provincial government for the high-tech equipment.

In June, the Sindh government announced an increase of over Rs4 billion in the budget for security in the province, fixing it at Rs113.87bn for fiscal year 2020-21 compared to Rs109.79bn allocated in the last fiscal year with a promise to enhance local crime prevention through police patrolling with dedicated funds of Rs2bn that would upgrade the old police fleet.

Last year, the Sindh government had announced over nine per cent increase in the budget for security in the province, fixing it at Rs109.788bn with a promise to recruit 3,000 police personnel in the law enforcement agency.

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2020