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Daily Times

Published Date: Aug 20, 2013

Jinnah Avenue incident necessitates police reorganization

The gunman episode at Jinnah Avenue has brought to fore the urgent need
for reorganising the police along modern lines to combat modern day
challenges, emergencies and crisis.

This was stated by speakers
at a seminar titled "Armed man Episode in Islamabad: Lessons Learnt in
Crisis Management and Ethical Media Practices", organised by the
Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Monday.

The
seminar sought to discuss the crisis response mechanism in cities,
capabilities of the law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and the way this
specific terror episode was televised live.

The experts at the
seminar declared the recent fiasco as a failure of leadership along with
non-professionalism of the police force, which resulted in an
embarrassing end. The participants’ also lamented political interference
in operational matters, and called for institutional independence and
steps for improving morale of the police force.

They also urged media to ensure ethical considerations while reporting in crisis situations.

Speaking
on the occasion, Ejaz Haider, anchor and analyst showed his deep
concern over the capabilities of the LEAs to deal with urban crisis
management.

He said that countering terrorism in urban centres
was a complex task, which required adopting modern professional
approach, standard operating procedures and regular training.

He
was also concerned by the negative aspects of the sensational coverage
by the media. He said that media persons should be sensitised on crisis
reporting.

He also criticised PEMRA for failing to perform its
regulatory role. He opined that PEMRA was deliberately not restructuring
the cable system, which according to him, was being used to exercise
leverage over TV channels by turning off transmission or switching them
to last numbers.

Commenting on the situation, Syed Kamal Shah,
former interior secretary, said that institutions should learn the
deployment of the right kind of resources and handling of situations
through techniques of crisis management.

He said that the first
duty of the police should have been to cordon off the area, which was
totally ignored. Absence of stringent measures to check carriage of
weapons and absence of marksmen and sharpshooters extended all this
drama, he added.

Commenting on the behaviour of the society
towards this incidence, he said that public is neither sensitised nor
educated regarding their responsibility to keep an eye on anti-state and
disgruntled elements.

He went on to say that media had played
an immature role. Running commentary and live coverage of the movement
of elite and commando force had jeopardised the operation.

Afzal
Ali Shigri, former inspector general of police, was of the view that it
was time to take a long and hard look at how stakeholders must respond
to such incidents and to overcome weaknesses so as to develop a greater
level of maturity and responsibility in dealing with similar situations
in the future.

Dr Moeed, an anchorperson, said that the
government’s response of merely suspending some policemen is business as
usual and would further demoralise the police force.