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VIPs’ security guards to undergo psychiatric test

KARACHI: The security administration has decided to conduct a psychiatric test of personnel deputed on VIP security to determine their ‘tolerance and aggression’ levels, it emerged on Wednesday.

Pakistani policemen stand in front of the Bhutto

The tests will be conducted to determine ‘tolerance and aggression’ levels of personnel deputed on VIP security.—AFP photo

The move has apparently been prompted by the Tuesday assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer by his armed police guard.

A senior official confirmed that the exercise had been finalised and the proposal would come into practice after the authorities concerned gave a final nod to the plan, which would require the hiring of services of senior psychiatrists in the first place.

“As the proposal says the security personnel would go through a test, or a kind of interview, conducted by a group of psychiatrists to determine multiple facts and aptitude,” said Sharfuddin Memon, consultant to the Sindh home ministry.

“We want to spread it to the overall department, but in the first phase those who are deputed on VIP and VVIP security would be asked to undergo the test.”

He said the test would be an attempt to look into the facts related to psychological aptitude of the personnel that remained hidden most of the time but always needed to be considered when these officials were asked to perform such a sensitive task.

“The test would hopefully give the department details about the tolerance and aggression levels of the personnel. Similarly, it may also help determine the required mental normality of the officials for such jobs,” said Mr Memon.

Mr Taseer was shot dead on Tuesday afternoon by a 26-year-old bodyguard, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, who, authorities said, was apparently angry about the governor’s opposition to the blasphemy law, carrying a death sentence for the blasphemer.

Mr Taseer was sprayed with a hail of bullets while he was walking to his car after an afternoon meal at the Kohsar Market, a shopping centre in Islamabad popular with foreigners and wealthy Pakistanis.

After initial investigations, the Rawalpindi police detained a number of personnel associated with the elite force of the Punjab police suspecting their connivance in the lethal attack.

The incident proved a wake-up call for the police and security authorities in Sindh that handle some 5,000 policemen deputed mainly for the security of VIP, VVIPs, businessmen, senior politicians, religious scholars and influential individuals.

Currently, there is no system in place that addresses psychological aptitude and fitness of the recruits at the lower rank level.

“For those who join police through the Police Service of Pakistan are required to go through a process during their Central Superior Services examination, which deals with the judgment of their psychological behavior and fitness,” said a senior police officer citing details of courses and tests required for recruitment and training of policemen for different ranks.

“There are multiple tests and courses for recruitment and then training of the policemen at the lower rank level, but unfortunately none of them is designed to examine their psychological capabilities. It is badly needed.”

Apart from gauging psychological fitness and capabilities, the authorities also plan to make sure the implementation of the standard operating procedure already defined for security duty.

“There should be a rotation policy that elaborates change of personnel deputed for any VIP security. Generally we witness that those who once appointed for that task keep working without any rotation or change in the duty,” said Mr Memon, the consultant to the Sindh home ministry.

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