LAHORE: The Counter-terrorism Force’s (CTFs) first batch comprising 421 corporals is set to pass out on Saturday having completed training at the Elite Police Training School at Bedian.
The corporals will be deployed at special police stations. These police stations would start operating soon to deal with cases related to terrorism. The corporals have been trained by nearly 70 experts from Turkey and officials from the police and the Elite Force. An official told The Express Tribune that around 1,500 corporals had been chosen through the Punjab Public Service Commission. He said 421 of these had completed their training. The official said the Counter-terrorism Department had been given Rs300 million to train the corporals. The department is initially establishing special police stations in Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and Multan. Officials at these police stations would register FIRs, interrogate suspects on physical remand and follow suspects’ trials in courts. Each special police station will be staffed by a DSP and an SP who would be the district and regional officer, respectively.
A senior official from the department told The Express Tribune that the CTD would register cases of sectarian and terrorist violence. He said the department was presently gathering intelligence regarding high-profile suspects, activities of outlawed organisations and was monitoring activities of people affiliated with them who have been listed in the Fourth Schedule under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.
The official said the CTD would be able to obtain a 30-day physical remand of suspects detained under Section 7 of the Act. He said the remand could be extended to 90 days in accordance with the new internal security policy. The official said new uniforms for officials staffing the police stations would be introduced.
“The CTD will have plenty of physical resources, modern gadgetry, weapons and training, but the major challenge it is currently facing is dead wood of DSPs, inspectors, SIs and ASIs of the Punjab Police who need to be replaced with physically-fit and dedicated officers to lead intelligence-led operations,” he said. Another official from the department said the corporals would be divided in three sections. He said 45 per cent of them would handle intelligence duties, 28 per cent operations and 26 per cent investigative work.
The special police stations are built on up to 17 kanals land. They have three-storey buildings with covered area of two and half kanals, 20 feet high and three feet thick RCC walls, four watchtowers each, offices for SPs, DSPs, SHOs and IOs, barracks for 50 corporals, eight lock-ups and messes. All rooms and lock ups are linked by computers and monitored by surveillance cameras. Another official from the department said lack of proper training, poor human resource and the paucity of coordination with other law enforcement agencies had hampered the department’s ability to prevent incidences of terrorism and sectarian violence. He said the department and the police had been monitoring 1,250 people listed in the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. He said monitoring the entry of young people from the province into local and international militant outfits was a formidable challenge.
He said the department’s performance would improve due to initiatives being taken to empower it and place more resources at its disposal. The official said the government had allocated special funds to enable the department to procure equipment, gadgets and logistics for the counterterrorism force.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2015.