LAHORE: Amid reports that 90 per cent of the terrorism activities took place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan in 2023 so far, the top authorities of Punjab and KP have marked the hilly and inhospitable terrain of Mianwali and Lakki Marwat for surveillance as members of the banned outfit Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are using the area to hit their targets in the largest province.
Both sides have taken up the issue of surveillance of the mountainous areas with many steep hills connecting KP’s Lakki Marwat to Punjab’s Mianwali by installing infrared cameras for the monitoring of suspected movement of the alleged terrorists.
The caretaker government has also accorded approval to the Punjab police chief to instal the night vision cameras and upgrade the police posts.
According to the reports, the terrorism activities were at its peak in Lakki Marwat district (KP) where the law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) were struggling hard to eliminate the TTP networks.
Punjab, KP envisage slew of steps to stem the tide of terrorism
An official privy to the information told Dawn the Punjab police’s high command believed that the KP police’s Counter Terrorism Department would have to switch to the ‘offensive mode’ to eliminate the terror networks in the province.
During a meeting on the next day of the terrorist attack in Mianwali, he said, the authorities discussed the issue in detail and were unanimous that the Punjab police in isolation can’t stop terrorism.
They emphasised the need to enhance coordinated efforts between the KP and the Punjab law-enforcement agencies to cope with terrorism.
Quoting some reports, the official unveiled that 2023 witnessed a surge in terrorism, particularly, in KP and Balochistan.
He claimed that the two provinces registered 60 per cent increase in casualties of the LEAs in 2023 as compared to those reported in 2022.
Similarly, 98pc of the total terror-related activities were also reported in the above-mentioned two provinces, he said adding that one of the major reasons was that the governments and the police authorities in the two provinces have blatantly ignored the recommendations of the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) to raise the CTDs in their respective regions.
The official source said the CTD in KP had been at its worst as the department was taking services of the officials from the provincial police instead of making recruitment of the corporals or highly trained commandos on the pattern of the Punjab’s CTD.
He said the KP’s political government had never bothered to take the recommendations of NACTA seriously when it proposed to create a specialist cadre of trained personnel/commandos to deal with the menace.
Similarly, he said the NACTA had proposed to the Balochistan government to provide Rs60,000 risk allowance to the CTD personnel as the Punjab CTD had done it a couple of years back.
Presently, he said, the CTD Punjab recruited 1,500 corporals who were provided with commando training to counter the terrorists. They were drawing a Rs60,000 special allowance, he said.
The official added that the Punjab government has recently restored funds to the tune of Rs200 million for the CTD making it a trained force on the recommendations of NACTA.
About the fresh episode of the terror act in Mianwali, the official said caretaker chief minister Mohsin Naqvi visited the district where he was briefed about the attack on a post of the Punjab Highways and Patrol.
Inspector General of Police Punjab Usman Anwar and other senior officers were present on the occasion.
On the occasion, the official said the IG put forth several proposals and the CM accorded initial approval to execute them for the prevention of terrorism in future when he was briefed that the militants of the banned TTP had come from Lakki Marwat to attack twice in Mianwali.
According to the reports, he said, the Punjab police were clueless about the hideouts of the militants of the TTP’s offshoot Tipu Group who attacked the Kundal police post at Isakhel tehslil of Mianwali late on Saturday.
He said the law-enforcement agencies believed that it would not be a wise decision to chase the fleeing terrorists in the hilly areas of Mianwali due to the risk involved to the lives of the police personnel.
“We have decided to instal infrared cameras to detect the movement of the suspects at the nearby hills of Mianwali district”, Dr Usman Anwar confirmed to Dawn.
He said the police check posts are also being upgraded. Some measures are under consideration to prevent such terrorist attacks in Mianwali and other parts of the province, the IG said.
To a question, he said the Punjab and the KP police high-ups have taken up the issue to enhance mutual coordination to share intelligence information to eliminate the terrorism networks.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2023