Sunday, March 31, 2013

Taliban in Karachi: the real story

This is an excellent and very well researched paper published in daily Dawn and is a must read for all law enforcers in Pakistan. Karachi police should check it out on ground and take immediate action to deal with the threat. Qazi courts by these elements however seems to be rather farfetched, although people dismayed by the slow legal process do approach the local influential groups/persons for settlement of their disputes who can ensure the implementation of their decisions. The picture is alarming and police need to do similar exercise for the other big cities that have identical problems. The actors may however be different from city to city.
DAWN. March 31, 2013
Taliban in Karachi: the real story
The activities of TTP have an enormous impact on life for the citizens of Karachi; criminal undertakings are their favored means for raising funds for the battle in the tribal areas. -Photo by AP
ON the evening of March 13, Director Orangi Pilot Project Perween Rahman was shot and killed by masked men half a kilometre from her office just off Manghopir Road in Karachi. The police were quick to point a finger at the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
In an “encounter” the very next day, they killed Qari Bilal who they claimed was a leader of the TTP and the mastermind behind Ms Rahman’s murder. Many in the development sector, however, believe she was targeted because she had fallen foul of the city’s land mafia because she was placing their activities on record. They may both well be right, even if Qari Bilal was falsely accused by law-enforcement agencies.
The latest players in Karachi’s land grab — for long the domain of those with close links to the major political parties and forces amongst the establishment here — are TTP elements who have been putting down their roots in various parts of the city over the past couple of years.
Large swathes of Pakhtun neighborhoods in districts west and east, as well as pockets in districts Malir, central and south are reported to be under the influence of the TTP. While all 30 or so of its factions have a presence in the city, the most influence is wielded by the Hakimullah Mehsud and Mullah Fazlullah factions.
According to local police and residents of the affected areas, elements belonging to the TTP have entrenched themselves in these areas after having terrorised the local Pakhtun population into submission, and driven out the ANP from most of its traditional strongholds.
In the past few years, after it won two provincial seats in the 2008 elections and acquired real political clout in Karachi, the ANP and MQM frequently clashed in a deadly turf war. Both accused the other of killing its workers. In 2010 and 2011, when the MQM began to allege that the Taliban were acquiring a presence in the city, the ANP accused it of trying to use that claim as a pretext to ethnically cleanse Karachi of Pakhtuns. However, on 13th August 2012, when an attack in Frontier Colony killed local ANP office bearer and former UC nazim, Amir Sardar, and two party workers, the ANP did not accuse the MQM. Since then, numerous ANP offices have been shut down, scores of its workers killed and many driven out of Pakhtun-dominated areas. Qadir Khan, an ANP spokesman who has now joined the MQM, says “no political party or group can stand up to these militants”.
The TTP affirmed its presence in Karachi for the first time when the organization claimed responsibility for an attack on The Business Recorder/Aaj TV offices on 25 June, 2012 as a warning to rest of the media houses in the country.
The military operations in Swat and South Waziristan in 2009 triggered the latest wave of migration of Pakhtuns, compelling tens of thousands of residents to flee the fighting. Embedded within the exodus of these desperate internally displaced people (IDPs) were a number of Taliban fighters. Although the urban jungle that is Karachi had been a refuge for the latter even earlier, the untenable situation in their native areas prompted many of them to adopt a more permanent abode here.
The new arrivals, both IDPs and the TTP militants among them, gravitated towards where their compatriots had earlier settled, mostly in katchi abadis. Thus, for example, while natives of Swat moved into places like Pathan Colony in the west and Future Colony in Landhi in the city’s south-east, an influx of Waziris and Mehsuds from Waziristan, adjoining tribal agencies and settled areas moved into Sohrab Goth, parts of Manghopir, areas along the Northern Bypass and RCD Highway. This ultimately determined which TTP faction — usually either Hakimullah Mehsud or Mullah Fazlullah as mentioned before — held sway in that particular area.
The new migrants also took shelter in pockets within the heart of the city. According to one of Karachi’s most senior cops, there are more than 7,000 fresh Mehsuds in Sultanabad locality adjacent to the PIDC Bridge.
In 2010 and 2011 TTP elements were still gaining a foothold in the city, but last year saw them flexing their muscles to establish control over areas where they had a presence.
Let us just take the area on the northern side of Manghopir hills, where Ms Rahman was murdered on her way home. The militants are so well-entrenched here that confronting them is becoming exceedingly difficult even for law-enforcement agencies.
The SHO of the Pirabad police station discovered this to his peril one night in the spring of 2012. The official had received information that several militants were attending shab-e-dars inside Masjid-e-Tayyaba on the stretch of Qasba Road that is locally known as Ghausia Road. He arrived with a contingent and arrested the imam, Qari Fazal, and the nine militants who were present. However, while his men swept the building looking for more that may have been in hiding, he realised they were being surrounded by armed men. When the SSP Orangi received his SOS, he headed to his SHO’s support with additional police. Calls to other law enforcement agencies and relevant authorities within police for backup were met with refusal. The outnumbered police officials were roughed up by the militants and finally had to negotiate their release and that of their men, as well as set free the nine heavily armed militants they had apprehended.

About 100 metres east from Masjid-e-Tayyaba on this road is a building that houses the TTP office which operates by the name of “Anti Crime Control Committee”. A short distance from this office one comes across Masjid-e-Ibrahim where members of jihadi organisations gather for shab-e-dars every Thursday night. Further down Ghausia road is the dera (compound) of the transporter Haji Rohtas that was attacked with grenades last year, allegedly by the TTP for not paying extortion money in time. Swinging towards Manghopir road one comes upon Masjid-e-Aqsa and another office – euphemistically named Ittehad-e-Qabail (Tribal Alliance) – of the TTP. Less than half a kilometre from here is situated Masjid-e-Safa at Quarry Colony. Further down are Pakhtunabad, Gulzarabad and Sultanabad, which also fall within the TTP stronghold in Manghopir.
Late last year, when the government released several Taliban prisoners as a goodwill gesture towards the Karzai government, there were wild celebrations in the part of this area that lies just north of Kati Pahari. These included a procession of vehicles, including four Vigos (double-cabin pickups), packed with young men firing incessantly into the air. According to Akbar Khan, a Pakhtun resident of the area and himself no stranger to celebratory firing, one of the men was standing head first on the bonnet of the lead Vigo, balancing himself on one hand as he triumphantly fired his gun into the air with the other, over and over again. “I have never seen something like this in my life,” he says. “That is how battle-hardened they are.”
The social order in these settlements has gradually reshaped itself to allow the TTP to set up courts for residents looking for a quick resolution to their problems in places like Quarry Colony, Gulshan-e-Buner (Landhi) and Sohrab Goth. Here, the qazi presides over a jirga-like setting, to pronounce judgment in the light of a mix of tribal traditions and his understanding of the Shariah.
The close links between the TTP, the Afghan Taliban, sectarian and other jihadi organisations in Pakistan’s tribal areas continue outside that theatre of war.
Khyber Mohalla, which lies towards the hill slopes east of the afore-mentioned Tayyaba Masjid , is populated mostly by Afghan refugees. Many claim that the area’s Allahu Akbar Masjid and Maulana Zarghai’s adjoining madrassa serve as a rest house for Afghan Taliban visiting the city. According to some local PPP and ANP supporters, the notorious extortionist Bhalo who now operates in tandem with the TTP lives nearby, close to the summit of the Manghopir Hills, competing for influence in the area with a lesser known criminal Kamran aka Kami who us believed to be affiliated with a sectarian group.
Further north, members of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen are reportedly holed up in Sultanabad. They were led by Maulvi Haroon until he was killed last year over a land dispute. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) and Ahle-Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat (the erstwhile Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan) elements as well as a witch’s brew of “good” and “bad” Pakistani Taliban and their militant cohorts have established a presence in mosques and madrassas dotted all over the city, including Hijrat Colony just off Mai Kolachi, behind Clifton Centre, on Korangi Industrial Area Road, Shah Faisal Colony, Gulistan-e-Johar, Gulshan Iqbal Block-2, Sohrab Goth and Nagan Chowrangi.
It is important to desist from facile assumptions that Pakhtuns in the city as a whole are TTP supporters. Although the community shares the TTP’s austere Deobandi beliefs – which may have helped tar them with the same brush – most of the residents have been forced by their tribal linkages to provide space to the militants. More than anything else, the latter have established their writ through the barrel of the gun. Therefore while their number may be extremely small in some areas, these heavily armed militants wield a disproportionate amount of influence here. The few remaining social activists within these communities and some police sources suggest that over 60 IDPs were killed by the militants soon after their arrival in Karachi because they had been on the wrong side of the TTP back home.
In this city of about 20 million, the directly affected settlements have an estimated population of around one million. It is difficult to estimate how many militants are among them, but according to local residents, they number mostly in the low double digits and may not exceed a triple digit in any particular area. However, one also cannot say with any certainty how many sympathisers they have within Karachi’s Pakhtun population.
What can be stated without any doubt is that the activities of TTP elements have an enormous impact on life for the citizens of Karachi. Criminal undertakings such as bank heists, kidnappings and extortion are their favored means for raising funds for the battle in the tribal areas.
The police and other law-enforcement agencies are well aware of their modus operandi, as they are of other jihadi and sectarian organizations, but they have not made substantial headway in countering them. One common reason for their limited success remains that the law enforcers hardly ever agree to timely sharing of information with others in the same trade. There is money to be made in policing the largest metropolis of the country and it suits everyone to keep the fear alive.
The information was gathered through interviews with residents of affected areas, law-enforcement officials, members and leaders of political parties and religious organizations- spanning over a period of eight months, as well as from data and maps developed by Dawn GIS. Given the subject matter, most of the interviewees spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Counterterrorism strategy

|Mr. Tariq Khosa has analyzed the challenge posed by the terrorists and has come up with broad practical framework for dealing with this serious threat to Pakistan. I hope the interim government will take note of his suggestions and take immediate steps to deal with the situation that is getting out of hand. Afzal A Shigri
THE military commanders have spoken. The message is loud and clear. The war against terrorism will go on.
“It was reiterated in unequivocal terms that a comprehensive strategy will be followed by the armed forces to combat the terrorist threat being faced by the country,” the principal military advisory body proclaimed after the recent Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee’s quarterly meeting. This military policy statement comes in the wake of two important developments. One, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) withdrew its peace talks offer on account of what it called the “non-serious attitude of security forces and the government”.
Second, while the federal and provincial chief executives were involved in a political tug-of-war over the establishment of caretaker governments, the military chose to fill this political void by raising a forceful voice against the threat of internal terrorism, in the process indirectly conceding that there was a serious civilian-military disconnect in pursuing a concerted policy and strategy on internal security issues during the last few years.
There is a clear message for the new caretaker governments that the armed forces want to pursue a “comprehensive strategy”, and that “all elements of national power would be utilized to combat and root out terrorism from the country”.
Another announcement by the military commanders pertains to their commitment to support and assist the Election Commission of Pakistan in the forthcoming elections.
It is an important promise that needs to be kept, especially in the wake of the TTP’s warning to the public to stay away from electoral activities as it regards elections as “un-Islamic”. It has also indicated that it will target “secular” politicians in the coming days. Against this tense and grim scenario, the recent military declaration to combat and root out terrorism from our midst will come up against many road blocks and unexpected turbulence. This will happen especially if all the elements of national power are engaged in this decisive phase against the terrorists and non-state actors who want to unravel the state of Pakistan.
Therefore, in the absence of political expediencies and compromises during the tenure of the interim caretaker governments, all state stakeholders dealing with national security need to forge a comprehensive policy framework. They must translate their resolve through determined and sustained counterterrorism operations so that the coming elections are not marred by violence and bloodshed. All security agencies must realize that the great effectiveness multiplier in the use of state power against violence is the allegiance and support of the public.
It is hugely symbolic that 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai has returned to school in Birmingham for the first time after she was shot in the head by militants last October. She represents the resilience of a young spirit and a beacon of hope for our society that is willing to incur sacrifices in the battle for the true spirit of faith.
Security experts firmly believe that capturing, killing, or imprisoning criminals who commit violent acts is possible only if the identification of perpetrators or targets is guided by precise intelligence. The recent arrest of Qari Abdul Hayee, allegedly involved in the 2002 murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl, in Karachi is a case in point. The security and intelligence agencies finally succeeded in nabbing him through precise technical and human intelligence. The slain journalist’s family has hailed this arrest in a message from Los Angeles. Similarly, intelligence-driven operations have led the Karachi police to apparently account for one of the killers of the respected social activist Parween Rahman and also trace and identify the culprits responsible for the sectarian carnage in Abbas Town.
Counterterrorism is primarily the responsibility of the police. Civil armed forces like the Rangers and Frontier Corps, intelligence agencies like Inter-Services Intelligence and the Intelligence Bureau, and the military play a basically supporting role. The police can prevent and control terrorism in three ways: one, by protecting vulnerable people and places on the basis of assessments of the likelihood of attack i.e. target hardening; two, by investigating, arresting and prosecuting terrorist suspects, thus providing deterrence against future attacks; and three, by taking pre-emptive action designed to stop attacks before they occur on the basis of intelligence.
The protection of people and places should be ensured by specially trained armed police. Their protective ability will be increased substantially if the public itself takes protective measures, such as being alert to suspicious activity, monitoring access to premises and installing surveillance equipment. Neighborhood watch schemes and additional deployment of private security companies can be helpful. Police need to be able to work cooperatively with the private sector, coordinating activities and sharing information.
The key to the successful prosecution of terrorist suspects is reliable testimony from perpetrators, accomplices and witnesses. Recent legislation should make the police less dependent on public assistance as now they are allowed to submit evidence collected by covert means. However, supervisory officers need to make sure that no human rights violations take place while collecting such vital evidence.
Specialized counterterrorism segments of both the federal and provincial police departments should now play a greater role in achieving success against the terrorists. The National Counter Terrorism Authority should achieve better coordination among all the state agencies dealing with terrorism. The ISI should have a legal framework to monitor and foil the designs of terrorists using our soil for refuge or to launch nefarious activities.
Joint interrogation teams should be notified by the interior ministry and home departments to assist the provincial crime investigation departments in finalizing investigations against those accused of being involved in acts of terrorism.
All the law enforcement agencies, especially the police, can gain public trust and support on account of their professionalism, integrity, courage and total impartiality if the war against terrorism is to be won. Failure is not an option if we are to survive as a nation.
This article was published in Daily Dawn on 22nd March, 2013
The writer is a retired police officer.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Criminal Justice System

Mr. Mohib Asad is one of the most well read and articulate officer of Police Service of Pakistan. His analysis of the criminal justice system in the historical context and the recommendations should be taken seriously by policy makers. This excellent paper was included in the report of the Asia Society that is being published on this blog with their permission. Afzal A Shigri

The Criminal Justice System

Mohib Asad

A malaise pervades the administration of criminal justice in Pakistan. Islamabad appears to be under siege; Punjab is replete with criminal activity in its town and country; citizens of Sindh suffer from organized crime; Khyber wakes up to daily acts of terrorism; an insurgency  continues to unfold in Baluchistan; and sectarian killings are rampant throughout the country. Some 93 percent of Pakistan believes crime to be the country’s number-one problem

To fully appreciate the present-day snapshot of Pakistan‘s criminal justice system, it is useful to review the evolving political history of the Subcontinent over the last two millennium.

A Brief History

Initially, Hindu rulers established codes to govern the region’s many disparate states. While these codes were based mainly on the injunctions found in religious book, they were ultimately subject to the ruler’s personal imperative. Because all land as well as its products, mineral resources, and analogous assets were the personal property of the ruler, the people enjoyed only such right over these and their own lives as the king allowed.

The beginning of Muslim political ascendancy in the country commenced in the eighth century, when Arab generals and scholars began to make forays into the eastern province, and by the thirteenth century, Muslim rulers had established their base in much of what is today’s Pakistan. By the mid-fifteenth century, Muslim had become major actors in the Indian power play. By the sixteenth century, Muslim dynasties had established Delhi as their stronghold, where they ruled as sovereigns over lesser Hindu states that paid homage to them. At the height of the most significant Muslim empire, the Mughal Empire (1526-12857), some four –fifths of all of the land and its people belonged to the emperor. Aside from Sufis, other religious personages closely followed the Muslim conquerors and brought with them an agenda for the conversion of local to Islam. These rulers brought their contemporary brand of sharia with them, and a new strand of criminal justice was interwoven with the existing system for dispensing criminal justice.

The vastness of the Subcontinent was such that until the mid-twentieth century, there were hundreds of princely states with their own potentates and administrative oddities. Even at the zenith of the Raj, the central British government found it more expedient and economical to live with princes, nabobs, khans, and the like, each administering criminal justice in his own way within his state. While in Europe, some form of the “social contract” started to take root in the eleventh century, this was not case in the Subcontinent, where different shades of hereditary rulers continued to enjoy residuary privileges and temporal powers over the lives of their subjects until the nineteenth century.

The first formal police institution was the office of kotwal in or around the seventeenth century, which was located in the town where the ruling family resided. As there was no standing army, the kotwal was generally a noble and had power of arrest, search, and seizure. Judicial power were invested in the qazi (or qadi), who usually came from a family of scholars trusted by the ruler and whose adjudications were based on local usage, culture, and religious injunctions. There were no prisons except those intended for political detainees. This system is notable for the fact that it was essentially the embryo of the “separation of powers” theory later followed by a large number of modern –day constitutions.

Sweeping change came with the spread of British rule from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, first by the face of the East India Company and later by the proclamation of the empire in 1858, as the British imported the concepts inherent to European common law. The colonial power instituted legislation in the criminal justice area, notably the Criminal Procedure Code of 1898, the Evidence Act of 1872, and police Act 1861. Lesser laws governing prisons followed. When Pakistan was formed in 1947, it inherited English common law, with its emphasis on due process through an intricate system of appeals as part of a tiered court system. Various informal dispute resolution system, such as the jirga, the panchayat, and the fatwa continued to coexist, as they do in the present.

Since 1947, Pakistan has had rulers of all kinds, including lawyers, bureaucrats, politicians, and army officers. On the whole, the law and order situation has continued to deteriorate, according to public perception, media reports, and expert opinion. To appreciate the chaos in which Pakistan’s criminal justice system finds itself at the moment, it is essential to understand this historical backdrop.

The current situation

The root of the problem facing the criminal justice system is that control over the power structure in Pakistan has consistently passed into the hands of politicians with a feudal mentality, aided first by bureaucrats and later by the army .Additionally, Pakistan has seen the emergence of right-wing religious groups that, over time, have become major powerbrokers in the balance of power. Populist aspirations have been cast aside, and the ruling elite have found it useful to weaken all state institution and thus keep a stranglehold on power. The country has gone through three martial law regimes spanning about half of its national age.

These regimes executed various political experiments. Government servants maintained constitutional guarantees safeguarding their terms and conditions of service for decades until the 1973 Constitution deleted the provision, opening the door for much greater government control over the civil service. By contrast, this did not happen in India, where the civil service is trusted by the public and is, by and large, free of politician’s control.

In Pakistan, the entire criminal justice system has been adversely affected by politically motivated policies and practice designed to weaken its structure. It has been noted that “officials who try to follow rules often face resistance and humiliation by being immediately transferred, disallowed from completing their tenures, made officers on special duty or subjected to baseless proceeding of a disciplinary nature [sic]”.

The continuation of the imperial mindset among law makers and top governors has resulted in a criminal justice system in which institution are weak and corrupt and are seen by public not as service for the community, but  as the strong arm of the status quo. The untidy situation requires comprehensive reform that addresses all of the institutions that make up the justice and security sector, with a focus on the processes and mechanisms for performance audit, oversight, transparency, accountability, and redress of public grievances related to state institution. This can be done only through an integrated reductive approach, on the one hand, and the reinstatement of public confidence in law and order machinery, on the other. Because the public image of “good” law and order is based more on a perceived sense of security than the reality, it is of the utmost importance that civil society be brought on board in this national effort.

The structure of the criminal justice system

As it currently stands, Pakistan’s criminal justice system lacks the capacity to fulfill its mandate. This problem is exacerbated by the crisis/post-crisis cycles through which the country has passed in the last four decades as a result of insurgencies, international terrorism, sectarian strife, organized crime, and corruption. To make up for the shortage of competent performance, there is widespread intimidation, harassment, torture, and violation of the fundamental right of the civilian population by the police and other law enforcement agencies such as the civil armed force a classic example of conflict creation in which the official agencies are both a symptom and a cause of ongoing strife.

The half million strong police force in the four provinces of Pakistan has its origins in a constabulary staffed by former army officers during the Raj. The face was altered after the empire was established in 1858 and the Indian police service was instituted; in practice, the service remained the political strong arm of the viceroy. In 1947, the state of Pakistan inherited the system based on police Act 1861 and the 1934 Punjab police Rules. To reorient the body, several police commissions were formed, beginning were formed, beginning with the Cornelius commission in 1959 (report submitted in 1962) and ending with, most recently, Police Order 2002. Notable among these was the Mitha commission of 1969, which truly addressed the core issues.

Challenges facing the system

The Mitha commission recommended an upgrade of the technical aids to investigation improved logistics career planning of police officer, and official, greater freedom for supervisory officers in operational matters, and overall control of the Inspector General over the allocated budget. The commission also called for the reorientation of the police to become a service provider rather than a force. The President of Pakistan General Muhammad Zia-ul –Haq approved nearly all of the commission’s findings, but sadly, none was implemented principally because the no police bureaucracy resisted any changes to the status quo in which civil secretariats controlled the police through an intricate system of budgetary control and annual evaluation reports on police officers. Many of the provisions of Police Order 2002 reflected the commission’s recommendations. 

Further, political elites interfere in the institution, investigation, and prosecution of cases. The tenure of postings of all ranks from Inspector General to the lowest rank is at the discretion of the Chief Minister. Police order 2002 was enacted with a view toward diminishing political influence on the police and making the institution answerable to bodies. Unfortunately, the major salutary provisions were diluted by amendments in 2004, and even the watered –down version has not been followed.

The situation in lower criminal courts and the newly created prosecution deparment is similarly deficient. The National judicial policy, an attempt at reform, thus far has not had any visible impact. The higher judiciary is working overtime to respond to incidents of notoriously overt bad governance and the miscarriage of justice, but their number and time are in short supply. The Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan has been able to correct pay scales and other provisions for judges, but not overall performance. The Chief Justice of Pakistan, speaking to a bar association in March 2012, expressed his severe displeasure at the delay and expense that the common litigant / plaintiff must endure to secure his legal rights through court. He went on to hold lawyers and lower courts equally responsible for the sad state of affairs.

Additionally, there is widespread corruption in those lower courts that are not in the ambit of either the National Accountability Bureau or the Anti-Corruption Establishment of the province. Recent amendments in the law have produced a situation in which civil judges are also the authority for criminal cases. The resulting situation is truly hodgepodge. Under earlier dispensation, police officers were prosecutors in court too, but new prosecution service are in the making in the province. Senior police officers are dissatisfied with this new arrangement, as they see conviction rates, already low, falling even further. It is commonly observed that the prosecution service is yet another tier of corruption; it is staffed by cronies of the elite. The situation is indicative of a turf war between the prosecution and the police.


As a holistic, reductive approach, the following steps should be considered:

  • Oversight of the criminal justice system by parliament and the provincial assemblies should be increased.

  • Greater emphasis should be placed on law and order and on the increased outlay of resources during annual budget allocations.

  • Closer networking is needed between the subsystems of the criminal justice system.

  • Reliable and real-time statistical information covering all aspects of the law and justice system through modern information technology management information system is needed.

  • A “commissionerate” system of policing should be introduced in all major cities with population of one million or more. Such a system would create units within provincial jurisdictions in which the commissioner would have magisterial power to enforce local and special laws within his area of command.

  • The civil armed forces, such as the Rangers from Sindh and the Frontier Corps from Baluchistan, should be removed form law and order duties.

  • The police should be audited by the Ministry of Justice on an annual basis. Programs should  be implemented to improve the quality of life for inmates so as to make prisons more comfortable, humane, and useful

  • The role of civil society organization and nongovernmental organization working in the human rights arena should be fostered, thereby creating for lobby for citizens’ right.

  • Increased oversight by international donors is needed. These donors must revisit the quality of their interventions in Pakistan’s justice system. Millions of dollars spent over the years have not made things any better; on the contrary, the situation continues to worsen.