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Published Date: Aug 19, 2013

SDPI Press Release (August 19, 2013)

Armed man episode at Jinnah
avenue, Islamabad demands reconfiguration of police along modern lines to
combat modern day challenges, emergencies and crisis’s.  

This was said by speakers
at a seminar titled “Armed Man Episode in Islamabad: Lessons Learnt in Crisis
Management and Ethical Media Practices” organized by Sustainable Development
Policy Institute (SDPI) here on
Monday
. The seminar seek to discuss crisis response mechanisms in
our cities, capabilities of law enforcement agencies and especially the way
this specific terror episode was televised live to masses.

The experts at the seminar
declared recent fiasco as failure of leadership along with non-professionalism
of police force which resulted in an embarrassing end. Lamented political
interference in operational matters, experts called for institutional
independence and steps for improving morale of police force. They also urged
media for ethical considerations while reporting in crisis situations.

Speaking at the occasion,
Ejaz Haider, Senior Anchor & Analyst showed his deep concern over the
capabilities of law enforcement agencies to deal with urban crisis management.
He said that countering terrorism in urban centers is a complex task
which requires adopting modern professional approach, standard operating
procedures and regular training.

He agreed on negative
aspects of sensational coverage of media and urged to sensitize media persons
on crisis reporting.  He also criticized PEMRA for failing to perform its
regulatory role and said that inept officials have no expertise to regulate
electronic media. He opined that PEMRA was deliberately not restructuring the
cable system, which according to him, is being used to exercise leverage
against TV  channels by turning off transmission or switching them to last
numbers.

Renowned analyst, Dr. Moeed
Yousaf was of the view that this episode would further increase the
indecisiveness of police to act in future crisis situation due to confused
political decision making, undue pressures and interference. He said that
government response by merely suspending some odd policemen is a typical
business as usual and would further demoralize police. He said that government
must draw some lines as the future of counter terrorism activities would be
fought in urban centers.

Dr Moeed said that society
is not paying head to compulsions of state which has even made it hard for
state institution to fight war against extremism. He expressed that Pakistani
citizen does not dispense their civic responsibilities explaining that police
reporting has not been our societal norms but in western countries, 80-85
percent of crimes are resolved through the help of citizens and communities
informing the police.

He was of the view
that
everything with capacity building of police in Pakistan is perceived as
buying
more weapon, uniform and equipment but it also applies to adopting to
modern
standard procedures, while leaving our cultural and contextual practices
in
security matters such as lenient checking in company of family and women
and
political interference. He lamented the complete disregard for respect
of rules
and procedures by politicians who first became the chief negotiator,
then
dictated the operational decisions of in charge at site and then
actually
performing the police  assault referring to Zamurd Khan plunge on
gunmen. “If this happened in any western country, Zamurd Khan would have
been behind
bars for taking law into his hand and risking the lives of other,” he
added. He
also discussed media coverage of the incident and pointed towards
erodision of
state institutions and said, when state institution became weaker, the
powerful
actors carve space out of it for them to exploit the situation.

Commenting on the
situation, Syed Kamal Shah, Former Secretary Interior, Government of Pakistan
said that institutions should learn the deployment of right kind of resources
and handling of situation through techniques of crisis management. Police first
duty should have been cordoning off area, which was totally ignored. Absence of
stringent measures to check carriage of weapons and absence of marksmen and
sharp shooters extended all this drama. While commenting on the behavior of
society towards this incidence, he said that Public is neither sensitized nor
educated regarding their responsibility to keep an eye on anti-state and
disgruntled elements. “Media has played an immature role. Running commentary
and live coverage of movement of elite and commando force had jeopardized the
operation”, he lamented. 

Mr. Afzal Ali Shigri, former Inspector
General of Police was of a view that it is time for all of us to take a long
and hard look at how stakeholders must respond to such incidents and to
overcome our weaknesses so as to develop a greater level of maturity and
responsibility in dealing with similar situations in the future. He informed
that the police force has a large number of trained staff at the tactical and
operational levels in the lower ranks who are adequately equipped to deal with
a situation of this kind. The police, however, do not have the resources to
deal with  like the a heavily armed onslaught like the one we have
witnessed in recent jailbreaks and string of incidents in swat before the army
was called in to restore the writ of the state. Tragically, the civilian provincial
government has failed to replace such intervention with an effective law
enforcement structure. Further he advised that police department should have a
public relations wing with trained personnel who should brief media about the
event.