Punjab Police pursue action against militants

By Javed Mahmood


Punjab Police Inspector General Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera (arms folded) and other officials last December in Lahore examine motorcycles provided to the Dolphin Force. The Punjab Police trained the Dolphin Force to maintain order and to respond to emergencies. [Javed Mahmood]

LAHORE -- The Punjab Police Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) killed 70 militants and arrested more than 250 terrorism suspects in 2015 a year that saw improvement in the security situation, officials said.

The Punjab Police CTD conducted targeted operations in recent months to round up militants, who belonged or are accused of belonging to al-Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other banned outfits, the CTD spokesperson told Central Asia Online June 3.

The CTD’s operations have been focused on eliminating the militants hiding out in various areas of the province, she said.

The spokesperson disputed reports of the presence of the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) in Punjab and said the police would not tolerate the presence of militants anywhere in the province, irrespective of their affiliation.

CTD personnel are co-ordinating with military and intelligence agencies in the province to ensure the success of targeted operations, she said.

Punjab police have intensified their operations to discourage militancy, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said June 2 during a discussion aired on a private TV channel.

The killing of dozens of militants and the hundreds of accompanying arrests prove the Punjab government's commitment to eliminating terrorism and extremism, he said.

The Punjab government ordered law enforcement to continue targeted operations without any leniency toward militants and criminals, he added.

Improving security nationwide

Security nationwide in 2015 showed improvement resulting from the relentless operations of security forces, the Islamabad-based security think tank Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) said recently.

Last year, Punjab Police killed 38 militants and arrested 769 suspected militants, PICSS said in its annual report, which it released in May.

However, educated young Punjab residents could be duped into joining ISIL if Punjab authorities do not act, PICSS warned.

ISIL lacks an organised presence in Punjab, but some elements in Punjab sympathise with it, PICSS found.

However, in 2015, authorities could take credit for success against militants, it noted.

Last year, 2,312 militants, 382 security personnel and 33 pro-government fighters were killed in combat nationwide.

In addition, security personnel arrested 6,392 suspected militants and accomplices nationwide.

Pakistan in 2015 recorded a 33% decrease in the number of terrorist acts and a 41% decrease in the number of security personnel killed, compared to 2014, according to the report.

Analysts praise progress

Security analysts are pleased by the results but want continued action against militants.

"The operation against militants should be continuous in Punjab, the largest province," Peshawar-based security analyst Brig. (ret.) Mehmood Shah told Central Asia Online.

More information is necessary, Karachi-based security analyst Col. (ret.) Mukhtar Ahmed Butt told Central Asia Online.

"We get regular updates about operations in North Waziristan and Karachi, but we don't receive any inside information on a daily basis ... from Punjab," he said.

Southern Punjab needs to be cleaned up as North Waziristan and Karachi were, he said.

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