PESHAWAR -- The quality of investigations into terrorist attacks has improved in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), leading to the convictions of 19 militants in recent months, according to officials.
Flaws in the process have been removed and investigators in high-profile cases have received specialised training in recent years to improve their capabilities. These reforms have helped police convict terrorists in a variety of incidents.
"We have been working to reform the investigation wing of the KP Police to improve investigations, especially the high-profile ones," KP Inspector General of Police Salahuddin Khan Mehsud told Pakistan Forward.
KP Police opened an academy in Hayatabad to provide specialised training to police officers from the investigation and operation wings, he said.
"The specialised courses and the use of technology have improved the investigation of the cases," said Mehsud. The investigation wing of the police and the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) have received new technology to bolster their performance, he added.
The conviction rate has grown in recent months because of more-capable investigations and upgrades to the CTD, according to senior police officials.
"The conviction rate for CTD cases during the current year is 66%, compared to 43% last year and 31% in 2015," CTD Superintendent of Police Waqar Ahmad told Pakistan Forward.
"Nineteen militants involved in different terrorist attacks were convicted by the [KP] Anti-Terrorism Courts (ATCs) during the last two months," KP Senior Superintendent of Police Zahidullah Khan told Pakistan Forward.
Convictions of high profile terrorists will act as a deterrent to others and bolster the sense of security among KP residents, according to Khan.
"It's because of the overall improvement iin the investigation wing that terrorists are being convicted by ATCs," he said.
Those convicted during the last two months include Sheikh Haroon and Asmatullah, who were arrested in a kidnapping for ransom case last year in Peshawar, according to CTD records.
The ATC in Peshawar in October sentenced the pair to life imprisonment and fined each man Rs. 200,000 ($1,900).
Three other terrorists -- Said Umair, Mohammad Kamran and Mohammad Sohail -- were sentenced to 23 years in prison and fined Rs. 500,000 ($4,750) each for attacking a police convoy in Peshawar in December 2015.
"The verdicts in all those cases, which were properly investigated and have all the required evidence, go in favour of police and other law enforcement agencies," Adil Khan, a lawyer in Peshawar, told Pakistan Forward.
In the past, courts gave suspects the benefit of the doubt if police submitted poorly investigated cases, he said.
"Police need to focus more on their investigation wing as it can help win cases in court," he added.