QUETTA: The Balochistan police chief has accused India and Afghanistan of fuelling religious terrorism in the province through their intelligence networks. Iran is also involved in a few such incidents, according to Inspector General Muhammad Amlish.
“[Afghanistan’s] NDS and [Indian] RAW are involved in terrorist activities in Balochistan while Iran’s involvement is also reported in a few incidents,” he said, adding that no solid evidence of Tehran’s involvement had been found.
In an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune, IGP Amlish said that cooperation between military authorities and Balochistan police was at its optimal level. Such cooperation has never existed in his 30-year career in the force, he said.
The police chief made a distinction between religious terrorism and separatist insurgency. “The case of religious terrorism is different as many foreign hands are involved in destabilising the country,” he said.
He said terrorism was the major challenge in Balochistan. “All other problems are interlinked as the same terrorists are involved in robberies, highway holdups, kidnappings and targeted killings of police officers,” he added.
Huge vacuum of senior officers
IGP Amlish said the policing structure in Balochistan was running at 50 per cent strength as Police Services of Pakistan (PSP) officers, who were forced to serve the province by former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, have started leaving the province.
“As many as 18 senior police officers have so far been posted outside Balochistan this year while merely six came to the province,” he said.
He said the issue was taken up with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch. “It really makes a huge difference if CSP officers are deputed because they work professionally.”
Counter Terrorism Department
Commenting on the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), the IGP said it has started working in Quetta with 130 trained personnel and will be extended across the province.
“The lack of trained officers and personnel is a big challenge. However, the issue has been properly taken up,” he said. “The target is to recruit 2,000 more soldiers in the CTD while a separate force will be set up for the coastal belt.”
‘Replace B-Area s with A-Areas’
“Around 95 per cent areas of Balochistan are once again declared B-Areas which come under the jurisdiction of the Levies Force, while merely five per cent area is classified A-Area, which comes under police’s domain,” he said.
He criticised the perception that the Balochistan Levies Force is a local and indigenous force aware of the dimensions and culture of the area. “I do not think the force can work capably. We will have to replace all the B-areas into A-areas and hand over the whole province to the police,” he said.
The IGP said Quetta and Mastung are the most troubled areas in Balochistan. “Sectarian violence and religious terrorism take place primarily in Quetta and Mastung districts while Makran division is disturbed by a nationalist movement,” he said.
The outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (Lej) and Jaish-ul Islam are behind sectarian killings and attacks on polio workers. “Some target killers of police officers, polio workers and Hazara community were arrested recently which has helped control such killings,” he said.
524 police officials slain
IGP Amlish said as many as 524 police officers have so far been killed in targeted attacks in Balochistan since 2006. “It is very sad that all the police officers who went after terrorists were targeted,” he said. “Many officers were investigating cases of terrorism.” However, he said police also arrested or killed the majority of the killers.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2015.