Expressing dissatisfaction over the low conviction rate in terrorism-related cases, the provincial government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) on Friday suggested amendments to the anti-terrorism legislation.
“We are not satisfied with the conviction rate,” Home and Tribal Affairs Secretary Azam Khan said at a news conference held at Officers Mess. “We have sent out the proposed amendments to the federal government and are trying to make them a part of the Anti-terrorism Bill, 2012 to help increase conviction rates of militants in courts.”
Flanked by provincial information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain and Minister for Prisons Mian Nisar Gul Kakakhel, Azam said suggestions include not revealing the identities of judges, witnesses and prosecutors in militancy-related cases.
“If the suggestions are implemented, it would increase the conviction rates of terrorists,” said Azam, adding that judges and witnesses remain under constant fear.
About the deployment of Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel in other parts of the country, Azam said: “Currently, only 30% of the FC soldiers are performing duties in K-P and the rest have been deployed across the country, including Islamabad.”
Out of the 530 FC platoons, only 179 are present in the province, he added.
If the personnel return to K-P, the 1400-kilometre border with Afghanistan can be manned more effectively, said the home and tribal affairs secretary.
He also highlighted some of the measures taken to curb the scourge of terrorism and claimed their efforts were yielding results. “There has been a downward trend in suicide attacks since 2009.”
From 2006 till 2009, there were 186 suicide attacks in K-P, 57 in the tribal areas, and 81 in the remaining three provinces, said Azam. Of these attacks, 24% targeted the army, while 46% targeted the police.
He added that the strength of police personnel had increased from 50,892 in 2008 to 68,000 at present, while policemen securing jails have increased from 1,874 to 2,512.
According to him, 152 terrorist attacks were foiled in K-P in 2012, compared to only 94 in 2009. Similarly, 4,448 militants were put behind bars in 2012 compared to 1,764 in 2008.
He added the provincial government will also implement a counter-terrorism strategy after it is approved by the cabinet. The provincial cabinet was briefed of the situation post-2014 when foreign forces are expected to leave neighbouring Afghanistan and hand over security to local law enforcement agencies. He said issues under consideration include how the government should respond to these changing dynamics.
“We give priority to talks for finding a solution to militancy and are also in touch with political parties on the issue,” said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, who earlier maintained that PPP, PML-N, JUI-F and JI had agreed to join hands with the ruling Awami National Party to hold an all parties conference for forging a consensus on tackling militancy.
He said the cabinet was briefed about tactics employed by militants, such as propaganda, suicide attacks, and financing terror activities through smuggling and kidnapping.
Minister for prisons, Mian Nisar Gul highlighted some of the steps taken to improve the prison system, including increasing the pay scale of employees, allocating Rs50 million to procure arms for policemen and computerising all prison records. The process of computerising records will be completed by May this year, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2013.