January 2008 News

Special squads to protect Chinese engineers in AJK

12 January 2008
The News International
NOT SPECIFIED

MUZAFFARABAD: Special security squads comprising hundreds of policemen have been raised in Azad Kashmir to protect Chinese engineers and workers engaged in various projects including Mangla Dam and Neelum-Jhelum Hydroelectric projects, a senior police official told The News on Saturday. Stringent checks have been put in place at all entry and exit points, linking Azad Kashmir to Pakistan, acting Inspector General of AJK police, Faheem Ahmed Khan, said. Notwithstanding the growing demands for reinforcement of security apparatus in the wake of unrelenting terrorist attacks in the country, the AJK police are still far short of the required strength and, ironically, the people at the helm of affairs do not seem to be taking this issue on priority basis. Khan, responding to a question, told this correspondent that the strength of police in AJK was only 7,650, though it should have been no less than 15,000 in view of the sensitivity of the region. 'We have one soldier for 950 people whereas according to international standards the ratio should be 450:1 and 550:1 in rural and urban areas, respectively. Apart from that, unlike the provinces we don't have any civil armed force which has put the whole burden on the police force alone,' he said. The acting IGP said that Erra had approved Rs 161 million for reinforcement of AJK police through fresh recruitment and purchase of security equipment and transport but the funds would be provided in four phases. The first tranche of Rs 40 million had been recently released but it was to be spent on purchase of vehicles and equipment although the AJK police department wanted its utilisation for enhancement of its strength in the first place, he added. The acting IGP said last year 225 people were killed in road accidents in AJK and the police department had submitted a comprehensive plan to the government for establishment of 'highway patrolling police' to minimise incidents of traffic violations, leading to fatal road accidents. Similarly, as a proactive approach, 'heinous crime management cells' were also being formed with respective DIGs as their heads. Special security squads comprising hundreds of policemen have been raised in Azad Kashmir to protect Chinese engineers and workers engaged in various projects including Mangla Dam and Neelum-Jhelum Hydroelectric projects, a senior police official told The News on Saturday. Stringent checks have been put in place at all entry and exit points, linking Azad Kashmir to Pakistan, acting Inspector General of AJK police, Faheem Ahmed Khan, said. Notwithstanding the growing demands for reinforcement of security apparatus in the wake of unrelenting terrorist attacks in the country, the AJK police are still far short of the required strength and, ironically, the people at the helm of affairs do not seem to be taking this issue on priority basis. Khan, responding to a question, told this correspondent that the strength of police in AJK was only 7,650, though it should have been no less than 15,000 in view of the sensitivity of the region. 'We have one soldier for 950 people whereas according to international standards the ratio should be 4501 and 5501 in rural and urban areas, respectively. Apart from that, unlike the provinces we don't have any civil armed force which has put the whole burden on the police force alone,' he said. The acting IGP said that Erra had approved Rs 161 million for reinforcement of AJK police through fresh recruitment and purchase of security equipment and transport but the funds would be provided in four phases. The first tranche of Rs 40 million had been recently released but it was to be spent on purchase of vehicles and equipment although the AJK police department wanted its utilisation for enhancement of its strength in the first place, he added. The acting IGP said last year 225 people were killed in road accidents in AJK and the police department had submitted a comprehensive plan to the government for establishment of 'highway patrolling police' to minimise incidents of traffic violations, leading to fatal road accidents. Similarly, as a proactive approach, 'heinous crime management cells' were also being formed with respective DIGs as their heads.

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