Islamabad, July 6 (ANI): The Pakistani police force is underpaid, poorly trained and ill-equipped to handle the Taliban onslaught, as the army drives them from their strongholds in Swat and surrounding areas.
Experts say the Taliban has now stepped up their attacks on the police because they find them far easier targets than the military, which has employed helicopter gunships, tanks and heavy artillery to push the Taliban out of Swat.
Talat Masood, a military analyst, said the government had been slow to train and equip the police for a wave of attacks.
“The police in this situation are not trained, equipped or geared to fight insurgency,” said Malik Naveed Khan, the Inspector General of the NWFP police.
“It’s a very serious war. You’re fighting the shadows of an invisible army,” the Chicago Tribune quoted Khan, as saying.
“For a force of 50,000, Khan’s department has 7,500 bullet proof vests and 17,000 automatic rifles. The department lacks explosives-detection equipment, a computerised fingerprint database and updated ballistic lab equipment,” the paper reported.
The microscopes that technicians use to conduct ballistics examinations, Khan said, “are the same ones used in high schools.”
“The department has 12 armoured personnel carriers, only three of which function. They are Russian-made and from the 1960s. They’re so old that we have to put a mechanic inside while they run. Every 3 kilometres, they break down,” Khan said.
Sub-Inspector Naseem Hayat said that he is fighting a war he knows police should not be asked to. With a handful of officers, he spends his days and nights opening car trunks, never knowing whether the next vehicle that pulls up is the one primed to explode.
“We are on the front lines. We know this is not our job. But we have been ordered to do this, to check every vehicle. That’s why we do it,” he said.
The Taliban focuses its sights on police stations and checkpoints; police commanders know it takes more than fighting spirit to fend off the terrorists. (ANI)