Peshawar counter-terrorism unit praised for 'remarkable' successes

Javed Khan

KP Inspector General of Police Nasir Khan Durrani lays the foundation stone of the new KP Counter-Terrorism Department headquarters in Peshawar on November 30. [Javed Khan]

KP Inspector General of Police Nasir Khan Durrani lays the foundation stone of the new KP Counter-Terrorism Department headquarters in Peshawar on November 30. [Javed Khan]

PESHAWAR -- The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), praised for its successes during the past two years, is getting a boost with a new headquarters under construction in Peshawar, police officials say.

KP Inspector General of Police Nasir Khan Durrani on November 30 laid the foundation stone for the new headquarters.

The new headquarters is to be completed within 18 months at a cost of Rs. 224 million (US $2.1 million) and covers an area of 84 kanals (10.5 acres). It will house the offices of the CTD additional inspector general as well as other senior and junior officers, a proper police station and residential barracks.

It will also include an onsite school for training regular police on investigation skills. With this school, KP Police aim to improve the level of investigation and evidence gathering, especially for police working on terrorism cases.

"The site selected for the CTD headquarters will not only secure this once-troubled area, but will also help stop any kind of attacks on Peshawar from this side of the city," Durrani told Pakistan Forward.

The new headquarters is located less than 5 kilometres from the main Grand Trunk Road and is easily accessible, he said, adding that the government selected the land in part because it cost less than more-urban plots.

"Establishing the headquarters of the counter-terror force will ensure the visibility of the police in the area, which will be helpful in eliminating crime and terrorism," he said, adding that the new CTD headquarters will also ensure development of the area.

Breaking up terrorist plots

Security has vastly improved in Peshawar as a result of the CTD police, current and former police officials say, noting the new headquarters as another success.

"The KP CTD has worked out a number of high-profile cases of suicide attacks, extortion, target killings and kidnapping for ransom and has played an important role in the restoration of peace in the province," former CTD Senior Superintendent of Police Operations Mian Saeed told Pakistan Forward.

Saeed served in that position until the end of November and now heads the Mardan district police.

"The response of the CTD in preventing attacks has remained remarkable," he said, adding that the organisation thwarted several major attacks by arresting the masterminds before they could execute their plans.

"The CTD along with police and other security agencies has done a remarkable job in the past couple of years by arresting a number of militants, recovering explosives and thwarting terrorist attacks," he said.

The Pakistani government formed CTDs in all four provinces in 2014 to go after militants in their respective areas. The force, with the help of the regular police and other security agencies, has nabbed gangs of extortionists, target killers and bombers in the past two years.

In October, the CTD arrested four suspected "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) facilitators and recruiters during two raids in Peshawar.

The CTD arrested at least four other suspected ISIL members in Peshawar between June and September, a CTD official told Pakistan Forward.

"The CTD, along with other law enforcement agencies, has done a great job in restoration of peace," Zafar Ullah, a former inspector general of KP Police, told Pakistan Forward.

"Giving the force proper facilities will further improve its performance," he said, adding that CTD police should earn higher salaries and should have offices and accommodations in safer places.

Dealing with danger daily

Militants often threaten and target CTD officers because of the nature of their work, Zafar Ullah said.

For example, militants on December 10 fatally shot CTD Deputy Superintendent of Police Riazul Islam in his car as he returned home from offering evening prayers at a mosque near his house in Peshawar.

"There must be more measures taken to minimise the threat to officers of the CTD," Zafar Ullah said.

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