Security challenges and resource shortages highlighted in wake of recent terrorist attacks in Mianwali

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Naeem Khan

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Read In Urdu

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Security challenges and resource shortages highlighted in wake of recent terrorist attacks in Mianwali

Naeem Khan

loop

Read In Urdu

Head Constable Muhammad Haroon Khan, a 28-year-old resident of the village Beriyanwala in the suburbs of Mianwali, joined the patrolling police force six years ago. During his service, he earned a master's degree in English. He served at the Kundal Patrolling Post in Tehsil Isa Khel for a considerable period.

On midnight of September 30 this year, a group of terrorists launched an attack with heavy weapons on the Kundal Post, located 110 kilometres away from the district headquarters. At that time, only six officers were present at the post. However, the confrontation continued until the morning.

Mohammad Haroon Khan lost his life in the exchange of gunfire. Two attackers were also killed, while the remaining assailants managed to escape.

Haroon Khan has three children. His eldest daughter, Farwa, who is five years old, attends school. His son is three years old, and the second daughter was born 20 days after Haroon’s demise. Haroon's mother has not yet recovered from the shock. She says, "The children believe their father has gone to the city and will return in a couple of days.”

According to the Counter Terrorist Department (CTD), both deceased suspects, Zubair Nawaz and Muhammad Khan, were affiliated with the Tipu group of proscribed TTP (Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan) group. One was identified as Arshad Nawaz’s brother from TTP Lucky Marwat.

This was not the first terrorist attack in Mianwali. Before this, on February 1 of the current year, terrorists targeted the Makarwal police station.

However, there were no reports of any casualties at that time.

In the same month, on November 4, terrorists also attempted an attack on the Air Force Training Base in Mianwali, which was successfully thwarted. According to the Pakistan Army's Public Relations department, all nine terrorists were eliminated in the retaliatory action and clearance operation. During the attack, three non-operational aircraft suffered some damage.

The annual report of the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) reveals that in 2022, there were 980 fatalities in incidents related to terrorism and violence across the country. A total of 512 incidents were reported, including terrorist attacks and clashes with forces.

Most of the incidents occurred in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan last year. Among the casualties were 308 civilians, 295 security personnel, and 377 militants. In the previous year, Punjab witnessed 25 incidents, resulting in 28 fatalities.

Most of the incidents occurred in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan last year. Among the casualties were 308 civilians, 295 security personnel, and 377 militants. In the previous year, Punjab witnessed 25 incidents and 28 fatalities.

According to the latest quarterly report from CRSS, the past year saw the highest level of fatalities due to terrorism in the last eight years.

According to the report, in the first nine months of 2023, there were 1,087 attacks by terrorists, resulting in the deaths of 345 security personnel. This included 2,085 police officers and 137 soldiers.

Considering the security situation, 20 years ago, the establishment of the patrolling police was initiated in Punjab to assist the district police. Checkpoints were set up on all major highways and handed to the patrolling police.

The primary objectives of the patrolling police include preventing illegal entry on highways, assisting institutions in securing cities, and assisting the public during emergencies.

In this context, initially, 12 checkpoints were established in the district of Mianwali.

In Tehsil Piplan, three checkpoints were established at Kandian Mor, Hafizwala, and Anwar Chowk. In Tehsil Mianwali, five checkpoints were set up at Nangni Mor, Yarokhel, Maslaan Wala, Fakhrabad, and Teri Khel.

In Tehsil Issakhel, four checkpoints were established at Chughalain, Chachali, Dara Tang and Kundal locations.

SP Patrolling Police Akhtar Hussain Joyia informs Lok Sujag that there are around 250 personnel in the district's patrolling police, and the number of check posts has reached 13.

At each post, eight officers are on duty in a shift, and the personnel strength is adjusted according to the requirements.

“The boundary of each check post is approximately 30 kilometres, and it is equipped with a Hilux vehicle of the 2004 or 2006 model.”

IG Punjab Police, Dr Usman Anwar, had informed on October 1, during Haroon Khan's funeral prayers, that due to the border area and mountainous region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the police in Mianwali face some difficulties. However, there will be no compromise on providing facilities to the police.

However, the in-charge of a patrolling post expresses disappointment about the provision of resources here. Sub-Inspector Muhammad says that effective patrolling is impossible with the current facilities.

“We only receive five litres of diesel daily for patrolling in a 30-kilometre area, while a single round consumes six litres of fuel. Two and a half years ago, we used to get 20 litres of fuel per day, allowing for one round per shift in the area.

However, now it's impossible to complete one round in a day with the current allocation.”

For the past 12 years, Ali Asghar has been serving in the patrolling police as a driver. He says that due to the shortage of diesel, maintenance of patrolling vehicles is not carried out, and neither is the Mobil oil changed in a timely manner.

“When the vehicle breaks down, the personnel at the checkpoint personally fund its maintenance from their own pockets.”

He says, "Since the government does not pay anything for the maintenance, minor vehicle problems are ignored. This way, vehicles slowly get out of order and cannot be used in emergencies. Not changing oil on time has led to engine problems in many vehicles."

“Sub-Inspector retired Muhammad Akram has served as in-charge at almost all the check posts in Mianwali.”

He verifies that the bills for vehicle maintenance and other expenses of the checkpoint were sent to the district headquarters, but he never received a single rupee from there.

Ignoring the fueling issue, SP Patrolling Police told Lok Sujag that 160 new vehicles have arrived, and it is hoped that they will soon be allocated to the patrolling police.

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He says that in the Makrawal attack, militants used Kalashnikovs, sniper rifles, and rocket launchers. At that time, the police had conventional weapons. However, officers and personnel have now been provided with new weapons and are well-prepared due to intelligence reports.

“We have increased the personnel at the Kundal post, and snipers have been deployed. Cameras (night vision) have been installed to see in the dark from a distance. Sandbags are on the check posts, but metal barricades will soon be installed.”

Former checkpoint in-charge Muhammad Akram is not satisfied with these arrangements. He says that big claims are one thing, but the situation will not improve until the police's other basic needs, including diesel, are fulfilled.

“If the patrolling police cannot reach the public in emergencies, how can its effectiveness and the department's image be improved?”

District Police Officer (DPO) Matiullah Khan Nawani of Mianwali informs Lok Sujag that after the attack on the Kundal Check Post, police and elite forces from Issakhel reached Kundal within half an hour.

“We are still in constant communication with all institutions, and we are always prepared to counter any enemy for the defence of our area."

Published on 27 Nov 2023

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