By Talal Raza. The Writer is a Political Researcher
While nation is convinced that the much trumpeted counter terror National Action Plan (being laid out in the aftermath of 2014 APS Peshawar attack) is achieving all its objectives, the recent escape of two hardcore terrorists from Karachi Central Jail gives us a reality check and point towards the extent to which terror sympathizers and criminal elements have deeply penetrated into the state machinery.
On June 14, two terrorists belonging to Lashkhar e Jhangvi escaped from Karachi Central jail. It is believed that they were provided with cutters from outside and also helped by their jail inmates. It was also learned that the terrorists were taken to nearby judicial complex apparently for case hearing despite that judges were present that day. The terrorists spent some time in Judicial complex to shave off their beards before finally using the central gate of the jail to escape on two motorbikes waiting outside the prison. The whole scenario reflects the depth of the planning and the number of people involved in the escape of two people. Immediately after the news, 15 prison officials including jail superintendent were taken into custody for their gross negligence. However, the escape of terrorists is just the tip of the iceberg as terrorists and criminals had easy access to all sorts of equipment including 3.5 million Pak rupees (approximately US$ 33000) cash, 102 mobile phones, anti-mobile jammers, 45 knives and 102 gas cylinders. All these items were recovered as a result of Rangers operation later on. Definitely, these luxuries were afforded thanks to the generosity afforded by prison staff to the cold blooded terrorists.
This is not the first time that terrorists, who continue to target us, have conveniently escaped prison. In 2012, more than 400 prisoners including terrorists escaped as a result of prison break. In 2013, despite prior intelligence terrorists made a mockery of our security forces, attacked jail from three fronts and got away with the release of their fellow militants. Later investigations revealed that prison officials offered no resistance to terrorists and allowed them to do their job. In the aftermath of all such incidents, inquiries are held, officials are arrested and countless measures are proposed but yet again, terrorists continue to seep through the prison walls.
In the last few days, a number of high level security meetings took place to discuss the prison break. Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah suspended DIG Prisons in a recent meeting. The incident also came under discussion during Sindh Apex Committee meeting chaired by Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. However, the government response should go beyond suspensions, arrests and inquiries on a limited scale to take care of the big elephant in the room. Firstly, the scope of the investigation into prison management should be expanded. The fact that such a huge amount of money, drugs and mobile phones were recovered form only one prison, warrants that a full fledged operation be launched in prisons across Pakistan to recover contraband. Secondly, an investigation into the alleged sympathies of prison staff should be carried out. Are they assisting the terrorists/criminals for ideological reasons or inmates manage to bribe the staff? Without addressing this issue to the core, it would be meaningless to keep heinous criminals and terrorists in jail if they are able to easily communicate with peers and plan criminal activities from inside prison.