PAKISTAN’S SECURITY – AN ANALYSIS

PAKISTAN’S SECURITY – AN ANALYSIS

In the run-up to his general election win in 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed to protect Pakistan’s citizens by giving them access to timely justice and by providing them security. He promised to be better than other politicians and there have been some positive developments during his tenure. However, Pakistan’s security situation is influenced by internal factors (religious extremism, sectarian and ethnic fault lines) and external factors (hostile intelligence agencies supporting terrorist organizations and the destabilized security situation in Afghanistan). Moreover, the nexus of criminal and terrorist organizations tips the precariously balanced situation that the law enforcement agencies have to deal with.

Since the implementation of the eighteenth amendment in the constitution, law and order have become provincial subjects rather than federal. However, the federal government oversees the overall improvement in the structural security of Pakistan. Through statistical data, this paper provides a critical analysis of the security situation of Pakistan, and it covers the legal and structural reforms related to security, introduced during PTI government’s tenure.

After years of military operations, a consistent decline was observed in militant attacks from the year 2015 till 2019. However, this downward trend in militant attacks was short-lived- since 2020 an upward trend of violence has been observed in the country. Despite an increase in terrorist attacks, the crime graphs of major metropolitan cities have shown improvement. As per the latest World Crime Index (WCI) released by the renowned crime and safety ranking portal Numbeo[1], Lahore ranked 263rd on the World crime index 2021. It has become safer than several major cities including Paris, Berlin, Rome, Chicago, and New York City. It is pertinent to mention that Lahore has shown consistent and praiseworthy improvement since 2014 when it ranked 74th. The following were the last three years ranking of Lahore: 230th in 2020, 174th in 2019 and 138thin 2018. Similarly, statistics of Islamabad and Karachi also indicate significant improvement in the security situation within the last three years. However, the same ranking is based on multiple parameters where most have improved but still corruption and bribery are ranked high.

Traffic management has also improved in the last three years and as per international survey[2], Lahore ranked 118th among 245 cities. Previously, the metropolis ranked 38th but it jumped to 118th due to improvement in several areas. According to a report, there was a clear decrease in travel time, an increase in traffic rules compliance, an improvement in road safety awareness among citizens, and a reduction of head injury cases during traffic accidents in the city. Some of these areas of improvement include intelligent traffic management reforms, monitoring and checking of traffic with the help of safe city modern cameras and transparency in e-challan system. As per Sindh Police statistics, slight improvement in traffic management was witnessed in Sindh province as well. The major traffic incidents in the province during the year 2018 were 243 (190 Fatal and 53 Non-fatal accidents). They decreased to 222 (169 Fatal and 53 Non-fatal accidents) during the year 2020.

Police plays a pivotal role in improving law and order situation of any country provided that it is well-equipped, well-trained, corruption free and working without any political pressure. Although, there are improvements in law-and-order situation, but PTI Government has not introduced major institutional reforms in the Police force. The international surveys are grading bribery and corruption as high and voluntary/involuntary turnover in senior hierarchy of Police force has increased. Numerous Inspector Generals of Police were posted in the provinces during the last three years- the current IG of Punjab, Mr. Kamran Ali Afzal is the 7th and Mr. Moazzam Jah is the 4th in KPK province. In Sindh and Balochistan, only two IGs were posted during the last three years. The continuity of top leadership of Police is essential for the stability of police force. During an informal discussion, senior top hierarchy of police quoted a shortage of police personnel in authorized strength and deputation in VIP duties, as the main reason of failure in controlling law and order situation. Sindh Police’s authorized strength is 164397 while the actual strength is 115759. A security analyst differs from this perspective of shortage in police strength. According to him, the control of law-and-order situation is dependent on the quality of training and a corruption free environment.

Corruption amongst police and other security forces has not been curbed during the last three years. Pakistan ranked 120th in Corruption Perception Index (CPI). On a scale of 0-100 (0 being ‘Highly Corrupt’ and 100 being ‘Very Clean’), Pakistan’s corruption score stands at 31 — a point lower than last year’s 32 — indicating that corruption in the public sector exacerbated. Pakistan’s score on CPI list dropped due to its points in the ‘Rule of Law Index’ and ‘Varieties of Democracy’ categories. They were lower than the previous year.  ‘Rule of Law Index’ and ‘Varieties of Democracy’ indicate the corruption of government officials, legislatures, executives, judiciary, police and military. Hence, it is fair to say that although there has been improvement in crime Index, present Government failed to curb corrupt practices in the Police force.

Women supported PTI in its political struggle with the hope that the government will improve their rights. However, there has been an uptick in offline and online attacks on women, journalists, academies, minorities, and civil society organizations. HRCP registered a rise in complaints of domestic violence in 2020, which indicated that the vulnerability of women increased during the pandemic. 430 cases of honor killings were recorded, out of which 363 were female victims. In the first four months of 2021, Punjab Police registered 53 cases of gang rapes in one province alone. The recent rise in crimes against women also indicates the complicity of the state for its lack of desire or inability to protect women.

According to Diplomat, 2020, the data collected since August 2018 indicates that the state of minorities hasn’t changed in Pakistan. The abuse of blasphemy law by clerics continues. This indicates issues in registration and investigation of blasphemy cases and not the law itself. Asia Bibi spent number of years in prison because of flawed investigation system and delayed justice. Subsequently, after international diplomatic pressure, Pakistan Supreme court acquitted her of blasphemy charges, and she was allowed to leave the country with safety. This enraged TLP hardliners, and they took to the streets for protests. However, Pakistani authorities stood firm and TLP workers were arrested for destabilizing the law-and-order situation in the country. As a consequence, TLP was declared a proscribed organization by the Ministry of Interior. According to an NGO “Center for Social Justice”, around 199 individuals (70% Shias and 20% Ahmadis) were accused of blasphemy offenses in 2019, which is the highest number of blasphemy cases reported in a single year in the country’s history. Other NGOs, including Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) corroborated the data that blasphemy cases increased in 2020 and 40 cases against religious minorities were registered in August 2020 alone. The European parliament adopted a resolution in 2021 with reference to Pakistan, amid the rising blasphemy cases. It demanded Pakistan to allow space for religious freedom and expressed great concern at the cycle of abuse of blasphemy laws in the country, which heightened the climate of discrimination, violence, and religious intolerance. Pakistan has still not placed effective institutional and procedural safeguards at the judicial, prosecutorial, and investigative level to prevent the abuse of women and blasphemy laws.

The statistics of cases pending in different courts of Pakistan has not painted a good picture of PTI Government. There are currently 2,159,655 cases pending in Pakistani courts which are being heard or will be heard by 3,067 judges in the country. Out of these, many parties involved in a case have passed away and their descendants are now awaiting justice. One of the main reasons behind delayed justice is the lack of appointment of new judges in vacant positions.  In the district and high courts across the country, 1,048 posts of judges lie vacant. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has to hear 51,138 pending cases with a total strength of 17 judges. Two posts of judges still lie vacant. Only the Federal Sharia Court has smaller numbers of pending cases, i.e 178 only. The province wise statistical data of pending cases is enumerated in the table below. It clearly indicates that there has been no major improvement in the disposition of cases by judicial system during the last three years. The cases either get delayed for years or the files get swept under the carpet. Justice delayed is justice denied and the current government’s performance is an antithesis of its slogan of justice.

Province High Court Sanctioned Judges High Court Actual Judges Pending Cases Session courts sanctioned Judges Session Courts Actual Judges Pending Cases
Punjab 60 50 193,030 2364 1616 1,345,632
Sind 40 34 83,150 622 568 115,296
KPK 20 15 42,180 596 472 240,436
Balochistan 15 10 4,663 270 208 15,729
Islamabad 10 9 16,374 103 70 51,849

 

Higher courts verdicts against the lower court’s judgment raises concerns on the professional knowledge of the lower court judges and this encourages the public to challenge them. Consequently, the speed of passing final judgments to the cases is quite slow as compared to the number of appeals filed against those cases. Moreover, lawyers adopt delaying tactics to stall the verdicts of cases which delays justice and justice delayed is justice denied.

Pakistan has shown significant improvement in implementing FATF action points related to AML and CFT. However, the improvements are mostly related to the introduction of new legislation by the parliament. There is still room for improvement in structural reforms in investigations and prosecutions. NAB and FIA have not hired professional experts yet. They continue to work with old school IOs that are incapable of investigating and prosecuting complex and sophisticated white-collar crimes. Moreover, beneficiaries of these white-collar crimes have hired highly paid lawyers of the country for the prosecution of cases pending with FIA/ NAB. Consequently, no punishment has been awarded by the courts in most of the high-profile cases.

The judicial system, civil bureaucracy and the police force lack major institutional reforms. Dr. Ishrat Hussain (advisor to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Institutional reforms) recently resigned without making any major visible changes in Pakistan’s bureaucratic system and culture. The implementation of civil services reforms introduced by him may take a few years, including the induction of specialists in respective fields. Experts consider inexperienced ministers of the present Government, its simple majority in the Parliament and powerful bureaucracy as major impediments in introducing institutional reforms. Thus, legal, and bureaucratic system is still dwelling on orthodox practices with no major structural or institutional reforms. Consequently, no long-term improvement in security situation is anticipated.

Moreover, the volatile security situation in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US troops and the takeover by Taliban has taken its toll on Pakistan- a surge in terrorist incidents has been witnessed in South Waziristan and Southern Balochistan by TTP and Baloch militants in the last few weeks. The disbandment of Afghan Army has given birth to US state of the art weapons black market which is accessible to the militant organizations. They use this advanced weaponry for terrorist activities in Pakistan.

The rise in terrorist incidents in South Waziristan shows that TTP terrorists from Afghanistan have migrated to Pakistan under the pretext of refugees. TTP will try to re-establish its foothold in tribal areas with the assistance of its sympathizers, sleeper cells and the sectarian organization- Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) in particular. TTP’s Ameer Noor Wali Mehsud remained active in Karachi’s terrorist activities. Hence, the chances that the militant organization will expand its influence on other cities are high. Furthermore, a close nexus has existed between Baloch militant organizations and TTP along Pak-Afghan border, under the support of RAW and NDS. The number of terrorist attacks in Southern Balochistan has increased which indicates that Baloch militants returning from Afghanistan have joined the Ferrari camps. They are more active in terrorist attacks against Chinese Nationals, Punjabi laborers, and security forces, which delays the timely completion of CPEC projects.

TERRORISM INCIDENTS – SOUTHERN BALOCHISTAN

OCT 20 TO SEP 21

Month

Firing IED Hand

Grenade

Target

Killing

Suicide

Bomber

Raid Ambush Misc Total
Oct 20 8 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 11
Nov 20 7 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 8
Dec 20 10 1 2 0 0 0 0 2 15
Jan 21 6 0 2 4 0 0 0 0 12
Feb 21 9 1 3 5 0 0 0 2 20
Mar 21 13 1 4 2 0 0 1 2 23
Apr 21 9 1 6 4 0 0 0 4 24
May 21 11 2 3 1 0 0 0 1 18
Jun 21 15 1 3 2 0 0 0 2 23
Jul 21 6 4 0 4 0 0 0 0 14
Aug 21 12 5 3 1 1 0 0 3 25
Sep 21 12 2 5 1 0 0 2 2 24
Total 118 18 32 26 1 0 4 18 217

Government of Pakistan recently announced that it is in discussion with TTP to reach a peace settlement- the Afghan Taliban, particularly the Haqqani Network is mediating between TTP and the Pakistani government. Subsequently, the ceasefire announcement by Hafiz Gul Bahadur Group, after the release of its prisoners by the government indicates that the discussion is beginning to make headway.

TTP is in the process of re-establishing itself in Pakistan after returning from its safe haven in Afghanistan. Historically, it has used the window of negotiations to get time for strengthening and re-establishing itself for terrorists’ attacks. Thus, if Pakistani Government spends more time in negotiation, it may witness another wave of terrorist attacks in 2023. While, Pakistan Army is losing officers and soldiers in TTP ambushes and attacks, the news of negotiations with TTP will adversely affect the morale of troops fighting on the battleground.  Consequently, the government and GHQ will likely be on a divergent path on the TTP issue. Moreover, a peace settlement with TTP will strengthen PTM’s narrative that TTP and militancy is Pakistan’s state project. This will fortify ethnic fault line.

Hence, it is fair to conclude that recent developments are pointing towards a surge in terrorist incidents in Pakistan. If stake holders fail to understand the gravity of the situation, then the country may enter another counter terrorism war in future.

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