PESHAWAR -- Police in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) have launched a security audit of all educational institutions and of other important buildings in the province as well as numerous exercises to prepare for any potential terrorist attacks.
The effort comes after a major security lapse in mid-January at the judicial complex in Peshawar led to the suspension of three police officers.
A suicide bombing in March 2013 of the complex, which is usually crowded on workdays, left three Pakistanis dead and more than 40 wounded. In November 2009, a bomb was detonated near the entrance of the building, killing at least 10 people and injuring more than 50.
"We have started the security audit of educational institutions and other buildings so that policemen remain alert and can respond quickly in case of any untoward situation," Capital City Police Officer Peshawar Qazi Jamil ur Rehman told Pakistan Forward.
As part of the audit, police cited the owners and management of various schools, universities and other buildings in the last two weeks for inadequate security measures.
"The police carried out a security audit of a large number of schools, colleges and universities in different districts of the province during the last 15 days, after which they lodged cases against 31 owners or principals for serious lapse in security," KP Police spokesman Waqar Ahmad told Pakistan Forward.
Over the course of about a week, police lodged 252 cases against owners or managers of different types of buildings for lax security arrangements, he said.
Since the start of January, the rapid-response force, the Elite Force, the Counter Terrorism Department and local police have been ramping up exercises to better respond in case of an attack.
"To improve the security of major buildings and other places, police carried out more than 790 search-and-strike operations and snap checks at more than 4,700 places in the two weeks ending January 20," Ahmad said.
Mock security exercises are taking place daily in all parts of KP to check the alertness level of police officers as well as to review the security arrangements taken up at sensitive places, he said.
"The police have to be ready at all times to protect the lives and property of the public," he said.
"We carried out mock exercises at the local degree college in Badhaber on Kohat Road and other important buildings to remain alert and raise the level of security," Deputy Superintendent of Police Badhaber Circle Fazal Wahid told Pakistan Forward.
The area has been particularly vulnerable to terrorist attacks in the past few years, Wahid said.
The security audit and the mock exercises will play a key role in improving the security of sensitive buildings, especially of schools and colleges, according to observers.
"This can be an important factor in improving security for schools, colleges, universities, courts and other sensitive and vulnerable buildings that have come under attack in the past," Tariq Waheed, a senior Peshawar-based TV journalist, told Pakistan Forward.
The security audit will keep police officers alert to counter any attack in the future, he said.
"The mock exercises make sure the policemen of the area know the safest place as well as any alternate ways to help students and others escape the building in case of an attack," he said.
Security has improved over the last few years, but the general public needs to be involved, he said.
"The owners of schools and other offices need to play their role in helping police secure their premises through hiring guards, installing CCTV [closed circuit TV] cameras and erecting barbed wire on the boundary walls," he said.