Tracking terror: Balochistan to deploy surveillance drones

Published: July 12, 2015
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Violence-hit province seeks federal govt’s approval for aerial surveillance of criminals. PHOTO: ONLINE

Violence-hit province seeks federal govt’s approval for aerial surveillance of criminals. PHOTO: ONLINE

QUETTA: The Balochistan government has decided on aerial surveillance of criminals in an attempt to stabilise the province which has been wracked by ethnic, sectarian and militant violence. It has written a letter to the federal government seeking permission to surveillance drones in the province.

The provincial authorities announced on Saturday that it would purchase drone cameras to monitor the activities of criminals. Officials said the move was a part of the process of using modern equipment to curb terrorism, especially in the provincial capital, which is once again witnessing an uptick in targeted killings and bomb explosions.

Read: Surveillance: District police told to buy drone cameras

Home Secretary Akber Hussain Durrani told The Express Tribune that the government has forwarded a summary to the federal government to seek permission for flying surveillance drones to monitor criminals’ activities. The federation’s approval is a prerequisite for using drones in Pakistan.

“Drone cameras will be highly useful and effective for surveillance of target killers and criminals involved in bombings in the province,” Durrani said. The estimated cost for deploying the system is around Rs1.6 million.

Read: Pakistani drones are for surveillance only: Naveed Qamar

He said special training programmes would be started for the police to train them on how to operate the flying cameras. The government has intensified its action against terrorists and their handlers involved in subversive activities in Quetta, he added.

Following the recent surge in violence in Quetta, the provincial government has already given instructions to install 200 security cameras in different areas of the provincial capital.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Jameel ur Rasheed
    Jul 12, 2015 - 2:04PM

    Drones will be highly useful in surveillance of criminals, they say. I say, if you know the hidings of criminals why don’t you go and apprehend them simply??Recommend

  • Kam
    Jul 12, 2015 - 5:22PM

    Drone has its limitations. Specially the quad-propeller small drones. These are good for monitoring processions and crowded places in a confined area but its limited range and battery life makes it unsuitable for day to day policing. They probably need a military grade large drone which has extensive range and can stay in air for prolonged hours.Recommend

  • Abid
    Jul 12, 2015 - 7:27PM

    Rest assured without an academy …these jokers will make a mess of it …Recommend

  • syed baqar ahsan
    Jul 12, 2015 - 10:11PM

    Who will fly those or handle them is big question for better usages .Recommend

  • observer
    Jul 12, 2015 - 11:57PM

    @Kam:

    Quite right.

    All drones are not created equal.

    The drones they are talking about are the sold in RadioShack. It flies for 15 minutes at 100 feet and carries a camera that can see about 2000 square feet at a time. The terrorists will happily use these for target practice.Recommend

  • Raza
    Jul 13, 2015 - 4:41AM

    I would say it is just a waste of money. Instead, Government should focus on improved training for all Police personnel, better use of special & crimes branch staff. At the moment, special & crimes branch is being mostly used for surveillance for Politicians. Intel sharing with military can make a real difference to combat terrorism.Recommend

  • Neutral
    Jul 13, 2015 - 5:13AM

    @Jameel ur Rasheed . Don’t need to criticize every thing . Its used in modern world Even Rangers/Police in Karachi used this in Lyari before raiding the area to confirm the location of miscreants .Recommend

  • AA
    Jul 13, 2015 - 7:50AM

    Please do not try to train existing police officers. This approach fail million times. Hire young officers based on their technical expertise and practice skills demonstrated with drones to get tangible results. I have experience with deploying technology in Pakistan, it is more costly to train old-dogs new tricks than to hire young energetic operator. In Pakistan trend is, as soon as this program start, some patrons of police officers try to move their own favored officers disregarding their abilities and qualifications to be effectively fly a drone and collect data. I remember, when I introduced computers to replace costly typewriters in the secretariat of a department in Sindh, many officers went to get quick diplomas and certificates in computer programing. Just to get hold of computers in their department. Later I found out those computers were sitting as a decoration pieces in officers personal offices then being used by their staff for real work. The same will happen with drones they will be allotted to insufficiently trained officers who will keep them as their toys. There is another negative aspect of training old-dogs new tricks, is their firm belief on their inefficient work as the only way of doing the job. They always try to undermine the new technology as unnecessary burden. They would present their own incompetence as a failure of technology. It is important that the police department should hire young energetic operators of drone with technical education and practical skills in flying drones. Practical test should be must, since controlling drones is a God gifted ability just like playing musical instrument, not everyone can learn Piano nor every one can learn to control drones effectively.Recommend

  • S.R.H. Hashmi
    Jul 13, 2015 - 11:09AM

    It is nice to hear that the Balochistan government has decided on aerial surveillance of the province, to protect it from the havoc caused by ethnic, sectarian and other forms of violence. And as a first step, Balochistan government has written to the Federal authorities for permission to deploy drones, which is a legal requirement. And what makes it sound so good is that even the cost of drone system is not prohibitive: being Rs.1.6 million in total, which is more like the cost of one police mobile and the area that the drone could cover effectively would be much more than that covered by the mobile.

    Considering he magnitude of the law and order problem, the Balochistan government must use all means at its disposal to bring peace and order to the province and must utilize all gadgets and modern systems which can increase the surveillance capacity of the law enforcers. In fact, the government should endeavour to deploy the system on a much larger scale in order to cover the main trouble spots in the province and not just the provincial capital.

    Pakistan’s armed forces have already developed surveillance drones which could be used for the purpose. In fact, the armed forces have recently developed even armed drones which they could use in its fight with the insurgents and other militants, getting better results at lower cost and with less effort and risk to soldiers.

    Karachi Recommend

  • Jameel ur Rasheed
    Jul 13, 2015 - 12:07PM

    @Neutral:

    I am from Quetta and I know the patrolling of LEAs. A few weeks back I was passing through Masjid Road Quetta and I saw patrolling party of anti terrorist squad, Frontier Corps, Balochistan Constabulary and Police. Patrolling parties were armed and armored and on the same day, terrorist stuck Hazaras in the middle of Masjid road and fled. Now, either all of the forces are futile or are part of problem. Drones are of no use. Just adding bills to exchequer.Recommend

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