Monday, December 19, 2022
ISLAMABAD: The ongoing hostage crisis in Bannu — where militants of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) took over a compound of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) Sunday — has brought to light some serious problems plaguing the vital security body.
A report, prepared by security agencies — which Interior Minister Sanaullah also discussed on Monday — paints an alarming picture of the state of the KP CTD. Even more alarming is the fact that these problems were brought to the notice of the KP government several times, but remained unaddressed.
According to the report, the provincial CTD was severely lacking in capacity to confront the growing threat of militant activity in KP. The report also said that over the last one year, the environment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa grew increasingly volatile, especially when compared to other provinces. Over the last one year, Punjab faced five terrorist incidents, while there were 704 such incidents in KP with leaving 305 dead and 689 injured.
Yet despite the growing ferocity of terrorist activity, the KP government remained unfocused on the issue of counter-terrorism, leaving CTD completely unprepared and ill-equipped to deal with the challenge.
The main issues plaguing CTD are: budgetary allocations for procurement, upgradation of equipment, training of human resources, allocations for operations as well as infrastructure.
Among the many problems hampering the effective functioning of the department is a serious shortage of senior-rank officers. The department has only one senior rank officer, who is also working as acting DIG. In contrast, the Punjab CTD has about 18 senior-rank officers and two DIGs.
Interestingly, the report noted that the CTD in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has the highest posted strength — 2,135 workers against an authorised strength of 3,161. This is the highest amongst all provinces. Yet the CTD’s human resources are untrained and ill-equipped. There were no trainings organised for the KP CTD and no grants were issued for this purpose over the last two years, the report said.
Meanwhile, the CTD in Punjab trains under the supervision of retired SSG officers. “The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa CTD even lacks training paraphernalia and there are no plans to acquire them in the near future,” the report stated.
The department is also suffering financially; last year the Punjab CTD was given Rs276 million as part of its operations fund, while CTD KP received Rs8 million. “This means that Punjab dealt with only three terror incidents with Rs276 million, while KP had to deal with more than 300 terrorism incidents in just Rs8 million.”
The overall budget for KP CTD is less than half of the amount allocated for Punjab. KP received Rs2,180 million, including salaries, while Punjab received Rs4,700 million. Most of this amount is spent on pays and allowances. Of the total Rs2,180 million, less than 4% (8 million) is spent on operations, compared to Rs276 million for Punjab. Reward money for KP CTD is Rs70 million; in Punjab it is Rs475 million.
The financial situation is compounded by a severe lack of incentives for CTD personnel in KP. “There is at least a 70% pay difference between CTD Punjab and CTD KP,” the report noted.
This pay difference is not just between the CTD personnel of Punjab and KP; even within KP, the secretariat employees receive nearly 70% more pay on average than any CTD officer.
To make matters worse, there are no accommodation facilities for CTD personnel in KP. “Even the DIG does not have living quarters and has been requesting the provincial government to provide some accommodation inside Cantt but to no avail. But strangely, all secretaries of other departments have been allocated houses inside Cantt,” the report said.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa CTD also lacks in infrastructure; there are no provincial headquarters. The entire department is housed in a single, borrowed portion of a building, the basement of which is KP Police Ammunition Depot. “The KP CTD is literally sitting on a pile of explosives,” the report said. “Four regional headquarters, including one in Bannu, have been under construction for the last many years. Work on some of them has not even started.”
There is no training school for KP CTD and it is completely dependent on Punjab CTD for this purpose. However, trainings, led by the Punjab CTD, are often expensive and generally do not get approval for this reason.
The tribal districts which were recently merged with KP are the main hotspots for terrorist activity. This has been known for many years, yet despite the merger, the districts lack basic infrastructure and no dedicated manpower is posted in these areas.
“The CTD personnel in these areas were nominated from existing Levies/Khasadars and were not imparted any training,” the report said. “There are no dedicated officers posted in the newly-merged districts.”
All district offices have been under construction for the last two years, while work on district offices in Khyber and Mohmand has not even started.
Besides this, KP CTD also severely lacks in cyber capacity. “The Punjab CTD has a state-of-the-art cyber facility. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa CTD does not have any such facility,” the report noted.
The department desperately needs GSM Locators, manpack locators for urban jammers, upgradation of communications systems, night fighting capability and cyber capacity infrastructure.