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Cooperation between law enforcement agencies can make counter-terrorism strategies effective

“Efforts and strategies to counter insurgency and terrorism can be successful only when the local police and other law enforcement agencies will cooperate,” said Hassan Abbas, author of Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism, addressing a seminar on “Counter-Terrorism Strategy: Need for Police Reforms” on July 23, 2009 organized by the Pak Institute for peace Studies (PIPS), Islamabad at its premises.

Many of the police officers in Pakistan say that they have lack of infrastructure, motivation and resources. He said that military actions are failed to counter insurgency and terrorism always because primarily it is a task of law enforcement agencies and local police to file a case and monitor the suspected individuals’ activities. When these forces are sure that one is involved in a crime then the action should be taken.

Talking about the prevailing security scenario in Pakistan he said that there is a dire need for police reforms. First, the police institution was not strengthened or established in the way as it should have been. Secondly, the police system comes under the provincial administration due to this police is always used to fulfill political purposes rather than safety and security of the people.

In 2002 police reforms were introduced in which there were addressed basically three or four issues. Most importantly, that there will be no political interference in police department. In fact police always remained dependent on politicians in terms of their recruitments, promotion and posting in others areas etc. Then only an independent police commission would decide the postings and transfers of the high rankings police officers. While in 2004 Pakistan Muslim League realized that it has lack of genuine political grass root support and for this purpose it needed police to fulfill its agendas. Consequently PML (Q) destroyed the police reform act of 2002.

Speaking on capacity of Pakistani police he said it lacks the basic tools and equipments. It lacks advanced technology and communication system. Most of the terrorist attacks, including one at 15 rescue police office and another on Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, were carried out by shared information through cell phones but the police was unable to take proactive steps. Unless and until there is economic investment in police institution it would not be easy to counter insurgency and counter terrorism in the country. He opined that US has proposed $1.5 billion annual aid package for Pakistan for the next five years and it must also include sufficient resources for police sector.

Dr. Sohail Abbas, a leading psychologist and author of widely acclaimed book Probing the Jihadi Mindset, chaired the session. He said in his concluding remarks that the number of anti terrorism acts shows that Pakistani government and legislators are in the thinking process and trying to understand the phenomenon of terrorism. The negative side is that we are not able to totally capture the whole notion of terrorism. The police have not been able to build a positive image since 1947, he said. Responding to a question Hassan Abbas said that due to the ups and downs in civil-military and socio-political system, and because human rights violations are entrenched in our feudal cultures, police could not bridge the trust deficit gap.