In light of the inquiry committee report on the Bannu jail break, the special cabinet meeting of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government held police, Frontier Corps (FC) and the Bannu civil administration, along with both federal and provincial intelligence agencies, collectively responsible for failure.
“The cabinet agreed to the report of the inquiry committee,” K-P Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said during a media briefing after the cabinet meeting on Wednesday. The meeting declared 25 officials and related staff as Officers on Special Duty (OSD) with immediate effect.
Clarifying the decision, Mian Iftikhar said that declaring the 25 officials OSD was a technical prerequisite to suspend them along a departmental basis. Those declared OSD in the meeting will be suspended through their respective departments today (Thursday) after they have been served show cause notices to fulfill all technical aspects of the case. The departments will be directed to carry out further disciplinary action against those held responsible.
Regarding officials held responsible belonging to the centre he said a report will be sent to the federal government mentioning the concerned officers as incapable of performing their duties.
According to Iftikhar, despite receiving intelligence reports from the centre and the Special Branch some four months before the jail break, the concerned authorities could not fulfil their responsibilities. The report also gave a deplorable account of the Bannu Jail control room’s performance. The control room officers did not notify authorities until at least two hours into the incident.
The provincial information minister further said the report had brought certain cases regarding official appointments and postings in law enforcement agencies to the fore. Giving details, he said merit was often ignored in the agencies and many officers lost interest in their duties due to long overdue stays in their stations. It was suggested that all employees apart from those belonging to Class-IV, should be appointed in districts not native to them. He added that these suggestions will be acted upon.
Iftikhar said a new high-security prison for high-profile detainees will be set up in two years. In the meantime, he added, the cabinet has decided to return inmates from other provinces in various K-P jails to their respective provinces.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2012.