Security comes under question after audacious attack on Karachi Police Office

Published February 18, 2023
A police officer stands next to a bullet-riddled wall as he inspects a police compound after taking control of the building, following an attack by Pakistani Taliban fighters, in Karachi on Friday. — AFP
A police officer stands next to a bullet-riddled wall as he inspects a police compound after taking control of the building, following an attack by Pakistani Taliban fighters, in Karachi on Friday. — AFP

KARACHI: Taking great exception to the current state of security arrangements at government buildings and installations following an attack on heavily-guarded Karachi Police Office (KPO) in the heart of the provincial metropolis, the security administration and provincial government decided to carry out a ‘security audit’ of these facilities while seeing the assault on the law enforcement agency’s headquarters as a serious security lapse.

Officials agreed that the attack on the KPO had raised several questions and for their answers a ‘proper exercise’ would be needed that included the ‘security audit’ and the plan of action the law enforcement agency was having after the terrorist attacks mainly on police across Pakistan had put the security establishment on toes in other parts of the country.

“That seems so [a serious security lapse],” said a senior member of the provincial administration when asked whether he agreed with the view that the attack on KPO was a serious security lapse.

This image shows where the attack took place.
This image shows where the attack took place.

“No doubt that it’s our police which is fighting and bearing the major brunt, but there is a need to revisit as to how secure our security offices and buildings are,” he said, asking not to be named.

He said that the recent Peshawar attack was a wake-up call for law enforcement agencies across the country and against this backdrop it was a matter of grave concern as to how militants had succeeded in sneaking into the police headquarters. “It’s alarming.”

Ex-CPLC chief terms assault serious security lapse which can’t be ignored

However, he was confident that the Karachi police and the security administration along with the Sindh government would address all loopholes and fix the issues to take up the challenge.

Policemen stand guard outside the Central Police Office on Friday evening. Security was beefed up on important installations following the armed assault on the Karachi Police Office.— Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Policemen stand guard outside the Central Police Office on Friday evening. Security was beefed up on important installations following the armed assault on the Karachi Police Office.— Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

Like past, he said, the morale of the police was up and ready to take the challenge as in urban areas it was mainly the law enforcement agency which fought against militants and made huge sacrifices to restore peace.

‘A symbolic attack’

Those who have worked closely with security agencies and the provincial administration see the attack on KPO as a symbolic one and a kind of message from militants to the authorities about their preparations and next targets.

 Police officers take position after an attack on a police station in Karachi on Friday. — AFP
Police officers take position after an attack on a police station in Karachi on Friday. — AFP

“KPO is not a soft target,” said Sharufddin Memon, former chief of the Citizen-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) and consultant to the Sindh home department.

“This is a kind of message from the terrorists: ‘we are that close’. It’s a serious security lapse. It’s not a routine terrorist activity. It cannot be ignored. So, I think many things are needed to be revisited. From the security of our facilities to anti-terror to training of our law enforcement agencies — everything must be rechecked,” he said.

He recalled the past wave of terrorism in the country when militant outfits often went for soft targets attacking public places, markets, mosques, shrines and imambargahs but the fresh one had started with a visible shift in their line of action, so far.

“They [the militants] are showing how prepared and trained they are. If they can attack these facilities then how vulnerable our public places can be? So it’s time to devise a proper security plan and take up the challenge with full confidence,” said Mr Memon.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2023

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