Structuring Counter Terror Methodology

Structuring Counter Terror Methodology

The time for reform, is now

The recent terror attacks in the country have exposed security structure and raised questions on law & order at sub-national level. Among many issues debated and discussed in post incident sessions, an important point is how to calculate district vulnerability which gives us probability of a terror attack. It will be an indication of making clear choices and decisions to concentrate on counter terror operations and enhancing security format in these administrative units. For this purpose we define a number of variables directly or indirectly linked with vulnerability of a district. These variables will be evaluated and each district shall have a score corresponding to these variables on a scale of one to hundred. Any district getting a total score of one shall be least susceptible to terror attacks where as one nearer to the “hundred point mark” is most vulnerable on the basis of these variables.

In Punjab, we have three categories of districts, namely: capital city district, city district and general districts. On the basis of rural urban divide, the first two types can be placed under urban settings with high population influx whereas third category is mostly rural in character and demographic distribution.

We have one capital city district, four city districts and thirty one general districts in the province. Each district has its own characteristics in terms of its geographical location, territorial size, population, contiguous boundaries and accessibility routes. Our district vulnerability model depends on a number of factors.

First, we need to take into consideration number of important civil and military installations in the district. These shall include strategic military structures, sensitive civil buildings and administrative nerve centres of different units, intelligence infrastructures, constitutional complexes, public support frameworks and critical establishments.

Second, the number of important projects instituted in each district and kind of manpower, national and international, working on it should also be scrutinised for vulnerability model.

Third, the minority demographics shall also be examined. The number of religious places of minorities adds to the sensitivity and hence increases vulnerability of the district. Similarly, number of Shia congregation sites and holy shrines create high susceptibility of the place and escalate chances of a terror attack. However, here it must be kept in mind that districts where support structure of terror exists, the terrorists may not necessarily conduct an operation therein, as creating terror in such districts can immediately place them under investigative spotlight which they try to avoid at all costs.

Fourth, the history of terror cases should also be studied while calculating district vulnerability model. By terrorism cases we mean four categories of incidents namely suicide attacks, bomb blasts, low intensity explosions and terror based on indiscriminate gun firing. The last three years analysis indicate that maximum cases were reported in 2015 when 7 suicide attacks, 4 bomb blasts and 8 low intensity explosions took place in which 81 persons were killed and 270 were injured. Most of the suicide incidents took place in Lahore (4), Attock (1), Rawalpindi (1), and D. G. Khan (1) respectively. The bomb blasts took place in Rawalpindi (1), Multan (1), Sargodha (1) and Bahawalpur (1). A number of low intensity explosions also took place in Lahore (3), Sargodha (1), Faisalabad (1), Multan (1), Sahiwal (1) and Rawalpindi (1) respectively. In 2016, 2 suicide attacks, 5 incidents of terror by firing and one low intensity explosion were reported in which 84 persons lost their lives and 335 were injured. The suicide incidents took place in Lahore and R. Y. Khan respectively. Among the 05 incidents of terrorism by firing include Lahore (1), Faisalabad (2), Sahiwal (1) and Bhakhar (1) respectively.

Fifth, sectarian tensions need to be reviewed in the model as well. From 2012-16, 126 incidents of sectarian tension / clashes were reported in which 38 persons were killed and 531 were injured. The maximum number of these tensions were reported in 2013 (57) followed by 2014 (35), 2015 (18), 2012 (15), and 2016 (1) respectively. From 2012-16, a total number of 81 incidents of target killings were reported with maximum number took place in 2014 (34) followed by 2013 (23), 2016 (9), 2012 (8) and 2015 (7) respectively. In 2015, maximum number of these incidents took place in R. Y. Khan, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Rajanpur and Bhakhar respectively. In 2016, maximum number of such incidents occurred in Rawalpindi followed by Chiniot, Sheikhupura, Muzaffargarh, Bahawalpur, D.G. Khan and Sahiwal respectively.

Many Fourth Schedulers were found missing from their abodes in violation of rules. The regional breakup includes Bahawalpur, Multan, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, D.G. Khan, Gujranwala, Lahore, Sheikhupura, and Sahiwal & Sargodha. If we analyse threat alerts issued in 2016, then it can easily be determined that the maximum threats pertain to Lahore (24), Rawalpindi (12), DG Khan (7), Multan (6), Gujranwala (5), Faisalabad (3), Attock (3), Rajanpur (2), Sahiwal, Kasur, Sheikhupura & Bahawalpur (1 each). However, 80 threat alerts relate to whole of Punjab.

An approximate 178,000 Afghans have been reported in Punjab. Most of the population has been concentrated in Sargodha followed by Rawalpindi, Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, D.G. Khan, Bahawalpur, Sahiwal, Sheikhupura and Multan respectively. The data indicates the majority of the Afghan population is present in Sargodha and Rawalpindi regions. One of the reasons of having such high Afghan population density in these areas is due to its proximity with KP and easy availability of physical labour opportunity.

Once these variables have been identified, we can then calculate the total score of a district. Higher the score of a district, greater is its vulnerability and susceptibility to a terror attack. A CT operation in such districts should be carried out with a well coordinated regional approach. On the basis of these factors, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Multan and Gujranwala are more vulnerable than any other general district. Whereas districts like RY Khan, DG Khan, Sargodah, Bukkar, Bahawalpur, Attock, Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur, Sahiwal, Vehari and Mianwali are seen relatively high on the scale. Moreover, Capital City District Lahore has the highest susceptibility than any other district in terms of vulnerability to terror attacks. The Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) need to focus on these administrative units for integrated CT operations.

Pakistan Today