KARACHI: Over the years, militant groups in the country have diversified their modus operandi. The country’s law-enforcement machinery, however, has not kept pace and has been unable to adequately contain the myriad threats from various quarters. It has not been able to come up with innovations in security procedures despite clear evidence that they are urgently needed. At present, security checks at entry and exit points of sensitive places in our country are still dependent on visual and physical checks by the security personnel deployed for security duties.
Militant groups keep gathering information about their intended targets well in advance. They study the routine security procedures at entry and exit gates, deployment of security personnel in the outer and inner cordons, other security arrangements and how security checks are carried out of civilians and service personnel, including their families during the day and at night. While studying these security procedures, they note the weaknesses, loopholes and difficulties faced by security personnel, while checking persons at the entry and exit points. They also note the way service personnel, especially officers and their service or private vehicles are checked and what response they receive when checking officers, especially if they are wearing uniforms.
However, security checks at present carried out by security personnel at prohibited/sensitive installations of the defence services need considerable improvement. At present, the lower ranks in the armed forces, especially in the army, while performing security duties remain under pressure and fear of their officers so much (in the name of so-called army discipline) that they have no courage to ask any officer (even if they do not know him) to prove his or her identity. If they see any officer dressed in uniform, they just salute him and let him pass through the check post without checking his service identity card and papers of the service vehicle. At present, officers of the armed forces of Pakistan do not like to be asked to prove their identity even if they are in civvies (plain clothes). Security personnel also need to be taught checking methods of service identity cards to ensure that it is genuine and not forged.
Similarly, officers also do not like their service or private vehicles to be searched or other occupants of the vehicle to be checked. Officers also dislike being told off by guards if their vehicles have dark windows or curtains, which are clear security violations. These practices have made lower ranks deployed on security duties jittery, and at the same time, they are making it easy for militants to take full advantage of such weaknesses.
Officers of the armed forces should set an example by showing their service identity cards and by proving their identity themselves before they are asked to do so by the security personnel/Military Police. They must also allow security personnel to check their vehicle and its occupants to their utmost satisfaction.
Sqn-ldr (retd) S Ausaf Husain
Published in The Express Tribune, September 12th, 2012.
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