PESHAWAR: It took an audacious prison break to convince them of its necessity, but the federal government has at last given permission to the Khyber-Pakhtukhwa government to install mobile phone jammers in all jails in the province.
“We have, in the past, asked the federal government for permission to install jammers in the jails, but Islamabad did not issue us their ‘no-objection certificate’,” said Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Prisons Minister Mian Nisar Gul, at a press conference on Wednesday. “Now, all jails across the province will get jammers.”
The prison system in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa seems thoroughly ill-equipped to deal with the threat of terrorism. Prison staff, for instance, only have batons and do not have any firearms. There is little coordination between the internal jail security staff and those manning the external security, who belong to other agencies. Hardened militant ideologues are incarcerated in the same place as common criminals, further increasing the risk of jail radicalisation.
“The jails are designed for common criminals. Our prison staff lacks the capacity to control these militants,” said Gul. “We have conveyed to the federal government the need to incarcerate militants separately from ordinary criminals.”
Following the Bannu jailbreak, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has tried to beef up security. It has issued transfer orders to ensure that no jail warden serves in their own home district. In addition, all police and district administration officials in the province have been asked to conduct meetings with the prison department to better coordinate security.