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FIA’s ‘Red Book’

January 13, 2013

EVEN as the country struggles to recover from the latest episode of an endless drama of death, there is yet another reminder of how ill-prepared law-enforcement and intelligence-gathering authorities remain. The Federal Investigation Agency maintains a so-called Red Book: documents containing information about high-profile criminals including human traffickers, terrorists and known extremists. The last edition came out in mid-2012 and FIA officials have said that the 2013 edition is in the process of being finalised. Supposedly, it is restricted information — although the 2009 edition is available on the FIA’s website. Nevertheless, given that it is supposed to be a handbook for investigators tracking some very dangerous men, it would be natural to assume that this would be a mine of data, constantly updated and meticulously maintained. In actual fact, though, as this newspaper’s investigations have revealed, the Red Book is a fact-file so sketchy as to be laughable. The format is almost childishly simple: a picture or a space for a picture, accompanied with basic data such as the name and parentage of the accused person, the crimes in which he has been nominated, and a list of physical traits.

To get an idea of how basic the information contained therein is, consider that Muhammad Rashid alias Hasan Mota of the Sipah-i-Mohammad Pakistan is described as having an “average” moustache and characterised by speaking “on non-serious matters”. Gul Zareen of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi can be identified because his “gait is normal”. From one edition to the next, there is little consistency or evidence that the body of information regarding any one particular criminal has been expanded. What this says about the level of efficiency of the law-enforcement apparatus leaves one baffled. Little wonder, then, that the state seems helpless in the face of a monster of savagery.