Lahore - Zulfiqar Cheema, a senior police officer who served in Tank District, says that the most serious form of terrorism hitting the country originates from Fata. He says that when he was posted in the Tank district, he found that, Mehsud was regularly sending armed men to schools of and indoctrinating children to recruit them as suicide bombers.
“We went after them but despite casualties forced them to sign a peace deal with the government which for the time being established peace.” he said while addressing a select gathering at the Tech Club, Tech Society here on Sunday.
He said that if the Political agent spends 5 percent of the billions given to him by the federal government, it would change the fate of a tribal agency but sadly, there are neither hospitals nor schools nor any other signs of development while the people rot in extreme poverty. Such miserable conditions provide the perfect breeding ground for militancy, he explained.
Cheema at present is Inspector General National highways and Motorways Police. Thanks to Pakistan Visionary Forum (PVF), Cheema shared his thoughts on law and order situation that normally police officers are reluctant to discuss. It was attended by President PVF Dr Muhammad Sadiq, Tech Society management and other members of the forum.
On Taliban’s demand for Sharia, he said that the perception that the Taliban wanted the enforcement of Shariat is totally wrong. Not a single Ulema has ever accepted their call for Shariat as legitimate since their campaign is motivated by fear and terror including primarily challenging the state of Pakistan, he explained.
He revealed that in 2007, the average salary an average Taliban fighter was drawing was US $200 which allowed them to grow strong enough to fight pitched battles against the army.
Explaining the current security situation in Fata, he clarified that the army does face threats of Improvised Explosives Devices (IED) since it can be set up easily on the roadside but to conclude that the convoys are constantly faced with frontal attacks when they go out for patrolling is to twist the reality.
Zulfiqar Cheema also shed light on the security situation in Balochistan. He said that while many areas of the province are in turmoil such as Panjgur and Makran, the city of Quetta is peaceful. The biggest danger to Quetta’s peace comes from Improvised Explosives Devices because they are regularly planted there, he said.
Nationalists have always existed in Balochistan and while there is an entire history of their struggle and their enmity against the state now the elevation of Dr Malik to the seat of Chief Ministership should allay their fears, he said. He was optimistic that in the days to come the security of the province would improve.
He was of the view that the separatists were driven by their selfish interests and had no support.
“Fighting their campaign from abroad, the separatists have never received support from the public, however, the killing of late Nawab Akbar Bugti gave them the fillip to rise against the state. Had he lived, the situation would not have deteriorated to this extent.” He said.
Explaining the circumstances that led to the clash with Musharraf setup, he said that Bugti did have an argument with Musharraf but it was over royalties, which should have been amicably resolved.
“There was no need to take punitive action against him. From what I have been hearing, the Nawab wanted 15 crore as the going rate for royalties while the government at that time was willing to offer 9 crore”, he said.
In his view the Karachi turmoil was also seriously affecting the country’s overall security.
He said that MQM, PPP and ANP have militant wings and are largely responsible for violence and mayhem.
“Not long ago, Karachi was under complete control of MQM but with PPP and ANP fighting for turf, the city was thrown into bloodshed”, he said.
At the present, about the presence of militant outfits, he said that among others, Taliban, Sunni Tehreek and Lashkare Jhangvi were operating in the city. He explained that along with political parties, these militant groups were lured by extortion, which runs into many crores per day.
He saw the presence of Rangers as a positive influence but did not see it as the ultimate solution to the city’s ills.
“Operation initiated by Rangers has started to show results but extortion rackets and target killers, somehow are still active. Those who are responsible for stamping out extortion are themselves engaged in it”, he said.
He also praised the performance of the Motorway police and said that it goes to the department’s credit that it takes action regardless of person’s rank or status.
“Motorway police has taken lawful action as well as issued speeding tickets to serving generals, judges of the superior judiciary, bureaucrats and police officers.” he said.