PESHAWAR: Despite concrete evidence gathered against those involved in terrorist acts, conviction rates in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) hover at a measly 4%.
Accrued evidence include camera footage and confiscated suicide vests which could count as ‘ample proof’ in court, K-P Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said at the Officer’s Mess following the 153rd cabinet meeting of the K-P government on Tuesday.
Home Secretary Muhammad Azam Khan told the cabinet that the 4% conviction rate of terrorists was surprisingly low.
Hussain said a large number of those arrested have been 13 or 14-year-old boys who benefit from being classified as minors under the law.
He proposed not treating the minors involved in terrorist activities under the same law. He reiterated that the concerned departments were reviewing the situation to ascertain why terrorists were “escaping” due punishment.
Linking the terror activities to Afghan influence, Hussain said the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan does not necessarily guarantee peace and normalcy in the Pakhtun region.
“Peace will remain elusive till terrorist groups are present in the country. We need to pay attention to how we can seriously eliminate them so we do not become the next Afghanistan.”
Hussain reiterated that it was not just the job of law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism, and that all government departments need to “tidy up” and provide good governance across the country. This, he said, will lead to coordinated efforts to effectively tackle militancy.
Speaking about the Malakand division, inclusive of Swat and Dir, the cabinet meeting heard how it is still a hot bed for militancy. “Keeping in mind cross-border attacks from Kunar and Nuristan in Afghanistan, there is still the need for an army presence in these areas,” said Hussain.
Currently, the army is not present in the entire Malakand division. It has withdrawn from the Shangla, Buner, Kalam and Behrain regions by handing over law and order responsibilities to the police.
K-P Police Inspector General (IG) told the cabinet that although there has been an increase in terrorist acts this year, their effectiveness ratio has dwindled as compared to incidents since 2009.
“However, incidents targeting police and politicians have increased overall,” said Hussain.
The IG also said that due to increased planning and a more effective strategy in 2012, the number of police deaths at the hands of terrorists has decreased by 49% and civilian killings by 47%.
The ratio of suicide attacks has decreased by 37%, while the ratio of foiling suicide attacks by law enforcement agencies improved by 29%, he added.
In total, 73 police personnel have been killed and 218 civilians (108 in Peshawar) died of terrorist acts from January 1 this year till November 31.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2012.