A ministry of defence production unit that supplies the Sindh police armoured personnel carriers has received orders for 32 more, proof it says of the confidence the force has in the vehicles.
Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) told a select group of journalists at its offices in Rawalpindi on Tuesday that it will be delivering 12 APCs in two months and signed a contract for 20 more last month.
The Sindh police have a fleet of 40 APCs, including the HIT’s Mohafiz models.
The media briefing was arranged amid a controversy stemming from a report in The News dated July 20 and titled “Bullet Proof Cars Became Death Traps in Operation”. The newspaper story claimed that at least 13 policemen lost their lives while they were in the HIT Mohafiz APCs used during the Lyari operation earlier this year. HIT said that no policeman died while in an APC.
There was an initial lack of clarity over the killing of SHO Fawad Khan – but he was shot dead when he left his APC.
In response to a question, the HIT representatives, who rank as high as brigadier, cast aside the allegations that substandard APCs were given to the Sindh police and were damaged in the Lyari fighting. The Express Tribune earlier reported that in Lyari up to 1,400 men fought with six APCs and five APC tanks. All of the APCs were damaged by rockets and grenades and three were badly affected.
The HIT representatives replied that the B-6 category vehicles were damaged by steel bullets but police officers inside had remained safe and a joint investigation team had denied all allegations.
HIT representatives told the media that the international standard APCs are manufactured indigenously given the demand created by the fight against militants. They are available for export as well. Fifty more APCs are being manufactured out of which 20 will be going to the Sindh police.
The Sindh police has received funding from the American government to bolster its counter-terrorism work. This is coming in the form of equipment, $750,000 worth in February and $8 million in November last year. A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Sindh police and the US government under the Police Assistance Programme that is worth $1.5 million. APCs can cost Rs10 million.
The HIT has already provided Mohafiz APCs to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Recently, the Balochistan police received an order of two and the KPK police 12.
The HIT experts said the B-6 vehicles shield against the standard 7.62mm bore rounds. The B-7 type is an improved category that shields against higher fire, including steel bullets.
The demand for more APCs from the Sindh police speaks of the degree of confidence they have in the indigenous product.
One official feared that reports of substandard APCs being produced by HIT was a conspiracy to pave the way for imported ones and damage the local business.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2012.
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