CTDs’ shortcomings

Published May 16, 2024

WHILE threats from terrorist groups need to be countered on the battlefield through military means, long-term success against violent extremists requires action by civilian LEAs. Yet as a recent report points out, the provincial counterterrorism departments lack the capability to adequately address the terrorist threat. The document, published by the Islamabad-based Pak Institute for Peace Studies, points to several inadequacies in the performance of CTDs. The think tank says that CTDs “lack clarity” on the dynamics of militant groups, and have few skills needed to analyse relevant intelligence. Moreover, apart from the Punjab CTD, departments in other provinces face funding constraints.

It should be noted that ‘capacity building/ strengthening of CTDs’ is amongst the points mentioned in the revised National Action Plan. Moreover, many law-enforcement professionals, especially those who have worked in CT, advocate a greater role for the police, specifically in CTDs, in order to uproot militant groups. Also, the federal interior minister has spoken of ‘restructuring’ Nacta, which is supposed to be the nation’s premier CT body. This cannot be achieved without addressing the deficiencies of the provincial CTDs. The departments must be revamped so that they can defeat the terrorist threat. The lacunae that experts have highlighted — shortcomings in training, procedural issues, funding bottlenecks, etc — need to be addressed. The CTDs should be able to block funding sources of terrorist groups, and bust cells through intel operations before militants can strike. The current wave of terrorism that gained momentum after the collapse of the ceasefire with the banned TTP, has resulted in a high toll amongst the security forces, with the militant threat particularly acute in KP and Balochistan. Before these threats transform into a full-blown insurgency, requiring military operations to quell, the state must empower the CTDs with the tools, training and funds needed to stop militants in their tracks. We cannot afford to neglect our civilian CT bodies.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2024

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