Outsourcing security: In Rawalpindi, traders told to hire private guards
Boy was allegedly among protesters interfering in raid. PHOTO: AFP/FILE
RAWALPINDI: The Rawalpindi police have asked traders to hire private security guards, since they cannot provide security to all the markets and shopping malls in the city with a limited number of personnel.
After militants threatened to attack the twin cities and Lahore in retaliation for the recently-launched military operation in North Waziristan, businessmen have demanded enhanced security measures to protect markets.
The police maintain that they were understaffed and therefore unable to provide security to markets. City Police Officer (CPO) Humayun Bashir Tarar and Regional Police Officer (RPO) Umer Akhtar Lalika recently held a meeting with traders and asked them to hire security guards for their malls and shops.
“Every Moharram, Eid and on other such occasions, the police cite the same reason and tell us to rely on private security firms,” said Qadir Mir, a member of the Raja Bazaar Traders’ Union. “The police always make the same excuse,” stated Usman Azhar, a shopkeeper in Banni Chowk.
Private security guards are underpaid and too poorly trained to fight criminals. “Will they [be able to] fight against militants with their out-of-order and rusted rifles?” questioned another trader.
“Security guards can only provide protection against robbers or thieves. They cannot confront terrorists,” said Wahid Memon, owner of a private security guards company.
Some businessmen suggest joint patrolling by the police and Rangers in Rawalpindi to allay fears among traders and customers. Many visitors too feel insecure in crowded markets, which are often the target of terrorist attacks.
Traders also demanded installation of CCTV cameras in the markets. At present, most markets are without CCTV cameras. If installed, they switch off during the load-shedding hours, as the police have no backup system.
Rawalpindi Markazi Anjuman-e-Tajran President Arshad Awan said security cameras would be installed in markets considered vulnerable to terrorist activities. A control room in Saddar monitors all localities where the cameras have been installed, he added.
Rawal Superintendent of Police Malik Karamat said the police had taken all traders into confidence and had increased surveillance. “CCTV cameras are being installed in various areas and we are also conducting search operations in sensitive localities,” he added.
He said that data from all hotels and guesthouses had been collected and the managements told to register names, CNIC numbers and addresses of every guest. The CPO was not available for comment.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2014.