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Security agencies lack means to screen personnel

ISLAMABAD: Although the country has been fighting terrorism and losing thousands of innocent people, the government has not worked out a procedure for the screening of security personnel to verify their links or otherwise to religious extremists.

Rehman MalikThe tragic assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer by his own security guard has raised several questions about the country’s police structure, compelling the government to ensure a mechanism of periodical screening of security personnel in police and other civil armed forces.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has also admitted on record that no mechanism exists to check behaviour and activities of the police personnel.

“We will devise a mechanism in police force to avoid induction of religious extremists,” the minister said.

Some security experts and retired police heads are of the view that a procedure for scrutiny of police personnel exists, but it is not followed.

A former inspector general of Sindh police said that intelligence organisations like Intelligence Bureau and Special Branch did not properly monitor activities of police personnel, especially those who are deputed on sensitive assignments.

He was of the view that scrutiny of a policeman should be started from the day he applied for the job and later during his training.

“In this connection, instructors in police academies are responsible for reading their students, their behaviour and aims,” he said.

The official emphasised the need for psychological examination of applicants who passed police tests at the time of their recruitment.

The former director general of National Police Bureau and present Secretary of Narcotics, Mr Tariq Khosa, said police rules required that a report must be sought from Special Branch about new recruits, but it had been observed that the report was prepared ‘leniently’ without proper intelligence.

Referring to induction of Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri in the police force, he said there was a committee before which his case must have been presented for screening, and to ascertain whether he had any connection with any religious organisation or not.

“The committee is responsible for checking previous record of Elite Force personnel before their induction,” Mr Khosa said.

The assassin, who is reportedly an active member of religious organisation Dawat-i-Islami, had organised a religious congregation at his home in Rawalpindi three days before assassinating the governor in front of his colleagues.

Mr Khosa said that provincial governments should ensure regular screening of security personnel in all such departments working under their supervision or control.

“I am very disturbed to think whether there was any flaw in his (the killer’s) basic training or in his selection,” the official said.

Afzal Shigri, a former IG of Punjab police, said there should be no political pressure and influence on police heads at the time of recruitment.

“Not only in police but in all security departments there is need for a mechanism of internal surveillance,” he said.

It has been learnt that the IG of Special Branch, Mr Nasir Durrani, had released a report last year in which it had been pointed out that Mumtaz Qadri and 10 other policemen had some nexus to religious extremists and it was suggested that they should not be deployed on the VIP duty.

Mr Irshad Hussain, a former IGP of Balochistan, said that Intelligence Bureau and Special Branch were responsible for screening of police personnel, but they did not do it.

“If the killer had organised a religious ceremony at his home it should have been reported by the IB and SB and he should not have been included in the governor’s security squad,” he said.

He stressed the need for periodic assessment of police personnel, preferably twice a year, and their report must be shared with top to low-ranking police officials.

In view of the incident, the federal government has asked all provincial governments to ensure proper monitoring and checking of religious extremists in police and that no security personnel having links with any religious organisation was included in police squads given to VIPs and foreign delegates.

A senior official of the interior ministry said there was an urgent need to screen religious fanatics in police force and the interior ministry had asked all provincial home ministries to take prompt action on these lines.

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