17 April, 2013

Effective Policing to prevent Extremism

Reforming Pakistan’s Police can help curb Extremism 

Sana Jamal 

ISLAMABAD - A comprehensive state policy along with mechanism to strengthen the police force of Pakistan are the key solutions to tackle extremism, according to a Report launched here on Wednesday. “Despite the surge in terrorist attacks in Pakistan since 2005, there has been no consistent effort to address the problem” to fight the menace of extremism, as indicated by the Extremism Watch Report 2011-12. “If extremism is to be effectively tackled in Pakistan, the police force has to be substantially strengthened and the factors debilitating it removed, the Report suggests.  
The ‘Extremism Watch: Mapping Conflict Trends in Pakistan 2011-2012’ launched by Jinnah Institute (JI),an independent policy think-tank, recorded 379 incidents of extremism from October 2011 to December 2012, which killed some 559 and injured 718 across Pakistan. The hardest-hit province in last 15 months was Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), with 143 incidents of extremism. The situation of Balochistan, was more tragic, where wave of violent sectarian attacks against the Shia community killed 190 people. “Sectarian violence was responsible for the highest death toll across the country, with 525 people killed” said Raza Rumi, Director of JI, who moderated the panel discussion on the report. 
Assessing the institutional capacity of police force, Zulfiqar Hameed in his essay (part of the Report), recommends that: “issues of police capacity – manpower, technical expertise and access to information – have to be addressed as a top priority through the establishment of counter-terrorism departments within each provincial police department.” 
Ahmer Bilal Soofi, the caretaker Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, speaking on the launch said “the issue (extremism) is not regime specific, but state specific and must be addressed as such” He commented: “What we are witnessing in Pakistan is a unique phenomenon as the nature of conflicts in KPK is different from what Karachi is experiencing while Quetta has diverse issues.”

Reforming Pakistan’s inefficient criminal justice system was regarded as crucial for combating extremism by Moeed Pirzada, a TV journalist. Strong policing with a system to monitor the movement of people and vehicles was needed. 

Maulana Amin Shaheedi of Mjlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen said that the civil and military institutions of the country should wake up to the dire situation and protect all Pakistani citizens irrespective of their faith, sect and creed.

Imtiaz Gul, security analyst, stated that most political parties skirt around the issue of militancy while “extremism is a manifestation of unrest in society”, systemic failures, that include non implementation of the constitution and violation of the law by state institutions. He also elaborated that extremism is not a short term phenomenon contained within a specific geography. “If we don’t stand up to this challenge, Pakistan will remain isolated politically and socially.”