An article authored by two senior officers who have been involved in law enforcement from civil and military establishments and when they jointly speak it is absolutely crucial that new government take it seriously while formulating long term policies on internal security. If we do not listen we are literally jeopardizing the possibility of structuring a meaningful internal internal security policy that has been delayed posing serious challenges to the country with tragic results for the country. Afzal A Shgiri
Tariq Khosa and Athar Abbas
THE threat of violent extremism and terrorism is so deep-rooted and widespread that it has come to challenge our foundation and national integration. It has virtually torn apart our social fabric with the people losing faith in the ability of the state to challenge and arrest it. The internal security is deteriorating at a rapid pace with every passing day.
The question is who is in charge of internal security in the country? Numerous agencies are responsible, yet none has an answer to this question. A central authority to control and coordinate internal security is conspicuous by its absence.
Should the armed forces be responsible for both internal and external security? With the given resources, they have established a professional institution and a bulwark against the external threat, conventional as well as non-conventional. But other than the counterinsurgency operations in the borderland, are they effective in countering terrorism that is severely affecting the state and public at large?
The army is already overstretched, managing war-zone governance and involved in socio-economic development work in the conflict-hit areas. On the other hand, the death and destruction in the heartland has increased the vulnerability of the state manifold. If the situation is allowed to continue unabated, there will hardly be anything left worth defending for the army.
We need to know which institution is well placed and aptly structured to perform and deliver on the internal front. Is it the armed forces or civilian law-enforcement agencies? If it is the police, then what are the shortfalls? Was the institution of the police always corrupt, incompetent and politicised and will it remain like this?
Is the police in its present form well equipped and sufficiently trained to counter terrorism? Is it operationally autonomous to confront the multi-dimensional, highly complex internal threat? Why is there always an insufficient political will to depoliticise the police?
The root of the problem lies in the present pervasive political culture. The extractive political institutions will always entail extractive security institutions instead of inclusive ones; institutions that are well connected with the people and are more responsible and accountable to the community.
The main strength of the army is not tanks and planes but a merit-based selection and promotion system with quality training that enables it to devise effective operational strategy under a unified command.
Should not the police services be provided with the same organisational autonomy and resources that are made available to the armed forces? Why not? Should politicising and corruption in the police be taken as a fait accompli? Or are there alternatives that the state and society can provide?