CM seeks Rangers deployment in Peshawar

Source: Published in Current Affairs on Tuesday, March 08, 2016

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has called for deployment of Rangers in Peshawar to address the problem of extortion which has reached crisis proportions.

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak said that he had written to Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan requesting him to provide Rangers for Peshawar’s security. In a letter to Chaudhry Nisar, Mr Khattak also urged the federal government to provide funds to the KP Police for setting up a 1,000-member special force to deal with the threat.

“The situation had improved considerably after Operation Zarb-i-Azab and implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP). But the issue of extortion has cropped up again and a major group involved in extortion cases is operating from across the border,” he said in the letter. He also expressed concern over a sudden upsurge in incidents of terrorism in Charsadda and Mardan districts.

He termed Shabqadar, where a suicide bomber attacked lower courts on Monday, an extremely ‘dangerous place’ and directed the police to exercise more vigilance to prevent such incidents. “Police will have to focus on Shabqadar which is very close to Peshawar,” he said, adding that he had summoned the police chief, Nasir Khan Durrani, after the carnage in Shabqadar. He said the government would fix responsibility and bring the culprits to justice.

The chief minister has also sought a meeting with the interior minister to discuss a 10-point plan to prevent the infiltration of militants from across the border and curb their subversive activities in the province.

Army troops and paramilitary forces are already deployed on the outskirts of Peshawar, on the motorway and Indus Highway. Besides, Frontier Corps and army personnel have been conducting joint operations in tribal areas adjacent to Peshawar.

At present, the Rangers are deployed along the eastern border and they also operate in Punjab and Sindh, while the Frontier Corps (FC) secure the western border. Mr Khattak, instead of asking for FC personnel, has called for the deployment of Rangers in Peshawar.

At the press conference, the chief minister said he had recently discussed with Afghan ambassador Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal the use of Afghan SIMs in extortion cases.

He said that Mr Zakhilwal had assured him that the man involved in the target killing of the president of Peshawar traders’ association, Haji Haleem Jan, would be handed over to Pakistan.

In his letter to the interior minister, the chief minister said that extortionists were using Afghan SIMs in the province, particularly in Peshawar, and currently 98 per cent of extortion calls originated from Afghanistan.

He said that the provincial government neither had access to those areas across the border nor had the jurisdiction to operate. He said that the federal government should take up the issue with its Afghan counterpart through the Foreign Office.

He said that the government should block Afghan SIMs and its spillover signals in Pakistan. The KP government also wants proper border management at Torkham and other entry points to stop the illegal movements of Afghans.

The Chief Minister’s letter also called for a ban on live coverage of terrorist incidents, provision of Rs 66.28 billion as a special financial package for building the capacity of KP police and revival of the executive magistracy that had been decided in the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

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