PESHAWAR -- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's (KP) police chief has left office with a legacy of cracking down on terrorism.
Nasir Khan Durrani, the KP inspector general of police (IGP), left service March 16 after attaining retirement age. He became IGP in September 2013 and introduced a province-wide counter-terrorism strategy in early 2014.
The strategy, called COP (for Capacitating the force, Obstructing militants and Promoting public trust), is winning plaudits for helping drive down terrorism in KP.
A series of army offensives like operations Zarb-e-Azb (starting in June 2014) and Radd-ul-Fasaad (starting in February) killed or drove out thousands of militants nationwide; however, in KP, the provincial police under Durrani's leadership were also racking up successes against militants on their own.
Restoring law and order
Since 2014, KP has witnessed dramatic improvement in public safety, with atrocities like the December 2014 massacre at Army Public School in Peshawar becoming a thing of the past.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants killed about 150 children and teachers at the school that day.
During the roughly three years the KP counter-terrorism strategy has been in effect, the KP Police Counter Terrorism Department has rounded up more than 1,200 militants, including 121 who carried rewards for their capture, Durrani told Salaam Times.
They also "channeled 786 terrorism cases to the courts during that time", he added.
The police worked at defeating militants' efforts to blend into society as well. During the past three years, they filed cases against 22,535 landlords accused of not notifying the police about their tenants, which violated a legal requirement.
As a result of the combined pressure from national security forces and the KP Police, the number of terrorist incidents in KP "fell by 56% in 2015 compared to 2014", Sohaib Ashraf, a senior superintendent of KP Police, told Pakistan Forward. "The number fell another 59% in 2016."
Durrani praised the KP Police for doing what he asked of them.
"I found the policemen of the province the bravest of all," he said. "Even though they were on the terrorist hit list, they always showed great courage."
Besides the valour of the police, the strategy worked for a number of reasons, said Durrani. "We built the capacity of the police while cutting the legal ground from under the militants by proposing relevant laws."
In addition, the public developed trust in the police after citizens were allowed direct access to senior officers and corrupt officers were punished, he said.
Praise for Durrani and his strategy
KP officials praised Durrani at a gathering in his honour on March 16 at the Malik Saad Shaheed Police Lines in Peshawar.
Under Durrani, "the police not only helped restore peace but earned the trust of the general public", said KP Chief Minister Parvez Khattak at the ceremony.
"Credit for the reforms goes to [Durrani] and to Chief Minister Khattak, who gave powers to the force," said KP Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra at the ceremony.
Durrani leaves behind a much more comprehensive force than the one he inherited.
"During the past almost three years, a number of special forces ... were set up within the KP Police," Mubarak Zeb, deputy IGP for the Counter Terrorism Department, told Pakistan Forward, citing the Special Combat Unit, Rapid Response Force, Woman Commandos and others.
The KP Police are better trained and more capable than ever, he added.
Other Durrani achievements include founding six police academies for specialised skills like handling explosives, establishing the Public Information Network to gather intelligence on crimes and militancy, weeding out police corruption, and setting up police-civilian partnerships like dispute resolution councils and model reporting rooms (user-friendly places for civilians to report their problems to police), said Ashraf.
Members of the general public value Durrani's contribution as well.
"The force has been made apolitical," University of Peshawar student Raza Ali told Pakistan Forward of the period since the counter-terrorism strategy's launch. "It took action against 6,000 officers on charges of corruption."
Besides greatly reducing terrorism in KP, the police have greatly improved their way of interacting with civilians, he added.