PESHAWAR -- The Pakistani army is asking the public to use its helpline to report any suspicious activities or other information that could foil terrorist attacks.
Residents of Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan are asked to call 1135, while residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) can call 1125.
Callers can use mobile phones or Pakistan Telecommunication Co. Ltd. (PTCL) land lines, according to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
The Punjab Rangers called on the public to "report suspicious activity/information related to terrorism" by calling 042-99220030 or 99221230, texting 0340-8880047, WhatsApp messaging 0340-8880100 or emailing [email protected], according to an ISPR statement posted February 26.
Uptick in terrorism
The renewed calls seeking public co-operation comes amid an uptick in terrorist activities in Pakistan over the past month that claimed about 100 lives, including bombings in Lahore and in Sehwan, Sindh Province.
It also comes as the Pakistan Army on February 22 launched its latest military offensive against terrorists, Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad.
"The army has reiterated its request to the general public for co-operation in fighting terrorism through informing security forces about any suspicious activity by using the helpline," said Col. Shahid of ISPR Peshawar.
The helpline was set up after the terrorist attack on Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16, 2014, which left more than 140 children and teachers dead.
"In the prevailing scenario, when there is an uptick in terrorist attacks in the shape of deadly bomb blasts in the country, the call for using our helpline is reiterated," Shahid told Pakistan Forward.
"Without the support and co-operation of the general public, the fight against terrorism cannot be won and the menace cannot be rooted out from the country," he said.
The public is using the system and "showing its responsibility in our ongoing war against terrorism", he said, adding that every call receives a swift response from security forces after verification of the caller's report.
A receptionist attending helpline number 1125 said a lot of calls were being received from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA.
Members of various social sectors, including tribes, are sharing information about suspicious activities, said the employee, who did not want to disclose his name.
"The popular response is evident in that we receive hoax calls occasionally," he told Pakistan Forward.
"Sometimes people misuse the facility ... because they have a grudge against someone," he said. "However, we verify every call before taking action."
"In case of misuse, we take action against the caller," he added.
Responsibility to co-operate
"Seeking public support ... is an effective approach by the Pakistan Army," said Ehtesham Haleem, president of the Peshawar Chamber of Small Traders and Small Industry.
"Security forces cannot ensure their presence in every nook and corner of the country, and local people are the best observers who can keep a vigil on mysterious activities in their vicinity," he told Pakistan Forward.
"Terrorism has wreaked incalculable damage to the people and the property of Pakistan," said Ehtesham, whose father was killed by terrorist extortionists in February 2016. "To expunge this menace, we all have to support our security forces."
"Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad will surely eliminate ... the threat of terrorism from our country," he said.
"If we want to live in a peaceful environment, than we have to extend 110% support to our security forces engaged in the fight against terrorism," said Rehmat Khan Wardag, president of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Istiqlal political party.
Wardag urged citizens to keep an eye on residents of their localities and to inform security forces if they observe anything unusual.
"The general public can play a very effective role in winning our ongoing fight against terrorism, and everyone should realise his responsibility," he told Pakistan Forward.