PESHAWAR -- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) police are improving their capacity to cope with the challenges of countering terrorism and combatting crime through the implementation of several reforms, officials say.
The KP Restriction of Rented Buildings (Security) Act, the Hotels Restriction Act and the Sensitive and Vulnerable Establishments and Places Act have given a new dimension to the KP police counter-terrorism strategy, Superintendent of Police Cantt Peshawar Kashif Zulfiqar told Pakistan Forward.
Enhancing police capacity
So far under the Restriction of Rented Buildings Act of 2014, authorities have archived the data of 128,000 non-resident occupants in Peshawar, a key element to fighting crime and militancy, he said.
"This achievement has improved the potential of police to control militancy and provided them a modus operandi to act against the menace more efficiently," he said.
The data was compiled through the Tenants Information System (TIS), which gathers biographic information on all property owners/landlords and tenants of rented buildings, including data on all male occupants over the age of 14.
After the information is verified by area and local representatives and the police, the tenant retains his or her Tenant Information Form to present to police on the occasion that the residence is raided.
"The Tenant Information System (TIS) has now become an indispensable part of the new police policy that has enhanced our capacity and we are working to meet the growing challenges of militancy and extremism in the province," Kashif said.
It also has equipped KP police with the technical proficiency to search tenants against criminal database records under the digitisation of First Information Reports (FIR), which alerts authorities if data of an occupant matches with any criminal record, he said.
A key element of the database registration drive is document verification, he said.
"Document verification and compilation of tenant credentials will also serve as a deterrent for both the occupants and property owners, [encouraging them] to abide by the law and desist from indulging any objectionable and unlawful activities," Kashif said.
"Police raids conducted under TIS have often resulted in the arrest of suspects and investigations of them revealed their sphere of influence and range of activities," he said. "The number of arrests concentrated in a locality give us a clue to identify the most vulnerable areas."
To further police reform efforts, KP police opened six specialised schools to train officers on contemporary policing techniques, including investigations, intelligence, tactics, explosives handling, disorder and riot management, and information technology.
The schools are part of the plan spearheaded by KP police to stamp out militancy and improve the professional capabilities of the force, the KP Inspector General of Police has said.
These efforts aim to strengthen rule of law, police reforms and peace in KP in the post-militancy period, officials say.
'Dramatic' reduction in militancy
"Incidents of militancy have decreased by 60-70% in the provincial capital after the implementation of police reforms," said Safdar Baghi, a Union Council member from Nouthia locality of Peshawar.
"Under the new [reformed] policy, the initiatives taken by police have produced dramatic effects in KP province that braved the onslaught of militancy with unprecedented courage and endurance," he told Pakistan Forward.
Police efforts to eliminate militancy and terrorism can be further enhanced with a computerised lease agreement card issued by police after the data of both parties are verified, he said.
In the existing local government system, each Union and Neighbourhood Council keeps complete computerised records of citizens to issue birth certificates and other identifying documents, he explained.
"The verification of an alien and suspected person can be done by utilising records and residential data of local government units," he said.
With digitised lease agreements available to police, "data of the tenant could be traced and verified ... in case he or she moves to a new locality."
Civic responsibility to fight extremism
Police initiatives to counter terrorism have also mobilised the general public, who are realising their civic responsibilities and their role in establishing peace and wiping out militancy, Baghi said.
"TIS also has compelled every landlord to execute an agreement with the tenant and provide complete records to police, hence involving both parties and curtailing their chances of collusion," he said.
Binding landlords through the TIS, obligating them to inform police and furnish them with a copy of the form, has increased the effectiveness of counter-terrorism initiatives, said City Naib Nazim Syed Qasim Ali Shah.
"Incidents of militancy will certainly decrease as landlords will inform authorities regarding any suspicious activities of his tenants, otherwise it would be impossible for the landlord to dissociate from the culpabilities of the occupants," he told Pakistan Forward.
For police to succeed in the battle against militancy and extremism, they require the full participation and co-operation of citizens, he added.
"Sensitising the public about their liabilities is of supreme importance in this regard," he said.
"Acts of militancy cannot be conducted by a solitary person but are the result of calculated planning done by miscreants after developing a network of associates," he said.
"The new system of information collection and intelligence integration will help reduce the challenges of militancy by minimising the chances of extremists to sit together and collude," he said.