Speaking Thoughts


What thrilled my imagination to press my ideas in my words here is my own writer inside me, who made me very anxious to share with rest of the world as to what is going on in my world and words of ideas as well as my emotions.

I come across many facts that keep knocking my mind. Myspaces inside get narrower and suffocated. I can’t keep too many ideas from getting rust and dust. Therefore, perhaps, it tantalizes my conscience as well as creativity to sketch the signature and paint the picture of my thoughts by scanning my mind and my heart on screens that offer accesses to many minds and many hearts to understand and to feel the warmth of ideas and cool breeze of passions for playing the game of words with ideas by attuning them well to changing world of humans and their life scenarios.

I will keep everyone and everything, that grows in my mind, posted here. I will try to get the essence of my conscious heart in a voice, accent, tone, and the way of its own, having a complete spell of originality.

J.J. BAloch

2nd August 2016


Radicalization of Youth on Social Media

J. J. Baloch


World of ours is witnessing new trends in the industry of human warfare and social violence. In that, the extremists are making the most of the social media as a great opportunity to access the tender minds and thereby to radicalise youth worldwide. Young volunteers for war, militancy, violence are increasing to an unprecedented level _a situation which calls for an appropriate strategic response on the parts of governments facing the challenge of extremism and terrorism in their societies.

Historical records unveil that the using children and teens for crime, violence, terrorism, and war are not a new phenomenon. However, in the past using children as suicide bombers and human shields was greek to many people from different parts of the world. Rather, it was the established war morals to keep elderly, womenfolk, and children away from any kind of attack, damage, hostage and molestation.

The post 9/11 world is pinned with terrorism: a new form of war and political violence. From Al-Qaida to ISIS now, the terrorists have been innovating their war with their declared enemies. From suicide bombers to flag-bearers and field fighters, extremists prefer to recruit teens who prove very passionate and lethal warriors.

The terrorist group, ISIS, have their own ideology, own worldview and own modus operandi. They consider themselves as the legitimate new version of Al-Qaida. After Bin Ladin his twelve-year son appeared in the video clip to claim himself his legitimate successor. Similarly, ISIS’s power of fight or their war strength comes from youth volunteers and their use of social media for propaganda and communication.

There are many media and scholarly reports that the teens worldwide are joining the war in large number. These teens mainly hail from Muslim Communities in western countries especially USA, UK, EU, Australia and Canada. These young people include both the boys and girls. Very recent precedence include Finland, UK, Australia and Canada. Finland has reportedly been the leader in getting their youth radicalised on social media.

The governments and think tanks in these countries are worried over this massive youth volunteerism for war and are busy exploring the reasons for such a grand global trend. Some studies have come up with startling findings of it. Very interesting to note is that not only Muslim boys and girls are leaving their hearts and homes to join a war from where no one is sure to return back alive and safe but also non-Muslims are also flocking to Syria either as a converts to Islam or as volunteers to join their communities which they think are the targets of ISIS, meaning thereby they are those who are landing in Syria to fight against the ISIS and to bring an end to bloodshed.

However, compared to those who join as supporters of ISIS, their number is very small. ISIS is working to convert young people to volunteer fighters from the life of luxury. They join them without seeking permissions from their families. The studies further unveil that the main reason of the joining of war in Syria by youth from developed countries is their dissatisfaction with their lives in their high-tech societies which they believe are devoid of spiritual influences and are teeming with materialistic trends in their respective societies where humans have become machines of minting money, not doing anything with emotions and culture of mankind.

The other prominent reason, the studies in this realm suggest is the social media opportunity for ISIS to reach very large audiences in highly social media user countries such as the USA, European countries and Australia. These are the countries where 95% Youth is on social media as per very recent research reports of Pew Research Centre at Harvard University. On social media, the extremists expose the people being killed by air strikes, drones by the allied forces and also by the native unpopular governments as that of Bashar-Al-Asad in Syria and that of Haider-Al-Abadi in Iraq. The trail of barbarity so inflicted on children, women and elderly cultivate revenge in youth worldwide.

The messages like, “We Want You”; “You are Hope and future” etc, go deep in the tender minds. They are inspired, scared, and enthralled by the extremists who make them believe that if you would not fight against the barbarism of the state and its rulers, you will surely fall victim to them one day. Fight to live; fight to survive; fight to progress; and fight to succeed not only in this world but in hereafter also are the thematic base which appeal to socially segregated and disgruntled youth, who are in habit of talking to their smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers in much better way than on face to face interactive sessions, fall very easy prey the extremist charisma.

Even in Pakistan’s recent terrorists attacks the age of attackers have been between 14 to 22. Almost all the arrested teen terrorists have confessed during their interrogations that they were killing themselves to enter into paradise as per the religious discourse told by the handlers. Secondly, those who fall victim to the sermons of radicalists have some common characters who get ready for taking such a drastic action just on brainwashing of hours. These characteristics as per researches and studies made on the topic include failure in love, molestation during tender age, gender, caste, and racial discriminations, sectarian biases, victimisation on the basis of identity, poor life with no hope of betterment, indoctrination during religious education, and engineered narratives which hide truth and rightfulness and thrive on falsifications and self-ordained ultra duties and responsibilities. The recent way of terrorist attacks during this February of 2017 in Pakistan have certified the point in point regarding the vulnerability of underage teens to fall an easy prey to the temptations of paradise, wine, hoors, and other luxury items.

Extremists have hackers and digital experts who are working v smartly and strategically on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, Snapchat, flicker, Skype, YouTube and many other social sites. For this, they need no permission, no legal formality, no physical mechanism except the internet connection. They create content and publish it without edition or deletion. They can exchange weapon and ammunition making formulas including bomb __ chemical and nuclear without any check. They have the opportunity to converse with anybody anywhere and anytime. This is called social media opportunity.

In a nutshell, social media usage by extremists gives them the edge on their enemies. Extremists need no aeroplanes, no tanks, no weapons, and no armies to invade and conquer the civilized world because they can penetrate any home, any organisation and any mind in civilized world through social media. The message, rights or wrong; news, right or wrong; blog, right or wrong can play havoc with everything, so targeted. What modern governments are doing and going to do in terms of countering this trend of terror export will matter greatly the future of war and peace in the world.

WRITER is a Senior Cop at Police Service of Pakistan and a social media analyst.

Honouring the Sacrifices

BY J. J. Baloch


At 6.17 pm on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 it blasted at Charring cross, the heart of Lahore which is the heart of Pakistan and our hearts continue to bleed since it took thirteen precious lives, including two senior cops, Mr Ahmad Mubeen, DIG police and Mr Zahid Gondal, SSP Police who reached the place of incident to negotiating with protesters to clear main Mall Road traffic and to bring paralysed city life back to normalcy.

Following many incidents of similar nature of terrorist attacks, we the cops are grieved to the core on more than 3,700 lives of cops of different ranks from constable to Inspector General since 2002. We need to learn from both the life as well as the death of our fallen officers.  

A haunting thought always touches our mind that this could have been me and my family when we come across any news of police officers laying their lives for public peace. Sometimes we feel honoured and wish for ourselves to lay down our lives for such a noble cause but very often most of us go sad, shed tears,  feel insecure for our families and share the pain but it is not enough.

Only grieving changes nothing but rather offers a grave disservice to the all including fallen officers and their families, our own selves, our departments, and also to our people who we are paid to serve and who we are honoured by for our services and sacrifices. After the incidents like the one have taken place at charing cross Lahore in which our officers have fallen we, instead of grieving, should storm our brains as to what is important now for us as professionals!

As the cop community, it is important for us to feel sad, share the pain and be as much supportive as we can with the families of fallen officers. However, still more important and the best way to honour the fallen officer is to learn from them their life and their death as well. And our learning should be for saving more cops, more families and more people from falling into the hands of the people who define their inhumanity as their faith. Learning from deaths is as important for cops as it is learning from their life experiences.

Not Important is to watch the images and media reports on the shattered lives of the spouses, children, parents and families of the officers so targeted and so fallen. Still not Important is to point fingers at the mistakes of the fallen officers and to devise the ways of smartness. Neither are the commitments for revenge of colleagues so important in this context of continuous loss nor yet shifting responsibility to other stakeholders in peace would do!

In this context of Lahore tragedy it is very sad to have seen many voices pointing against district administration for not disallowing mob to gather at charing cross and for not being available to negotiate with the protesters, the political leadership for keeping police officers under tremendous pressure to work miracles or to face consequences, the police senior command to ensure compliance or pack up, media criticism of so-called security lapses, and judicial activism for avoiding the human rights abuses so caused due to use of coercive authorities to prevent such protests.

However, in Sehwan episode DPO and ASP/SDPO were summarily removed from their posts on the grounds of their failure to prevent the blast. It’s really very strange that we live in a country where our system punishes police for the sins of criminals and terrorists. If this is not the way as I am taking it, why same responsibility does not travel upward and why DIG, IG and for that matter whole political government is not held responsible where only SDPO and DPO are targetted. It is very heartening to note that no action was taken against the deputy commissioner who is in charge of health or hospital of sehwan city where no arrangement of any kind was available despite the fact that present CM Sindh has continuously been holding finance ministry of Sindh government during last 7 years or more.

Same is true in the case of sanitation and ambulance services which, too, is less relevant to police but police work in such emergencies as supporting mechanism. It was reported in media and on social media by some NGOs that the body parts of the victims were found in garbage piles and sewerage pools. Was this the job of the police? Yes, prevention was the part of police but not only of SDPO and DPO.

In terrorism, unlike in crime cases, many agencies work together as a team? Where was Special Branch and other intelligence agencies to issue an advanced specific warning about Sehwan attack? Is it not the failure of intelligence whereas police constables were at least seen in the CCTV footage of shrine checking the entrants but the suspect skipped his eye only due to rush. Not fair to police officers who faced government wrath.

Was this the job of the police? Yes, prevention was the part of police duty but had the local police been able to stop what the mighty armies sometimes fail to do, they would have done it at all costs in a similar way as police had stopped the terrorist in Charsada a few days back. Circumstances at Sehwan and Charsada were not similar. Had it been so the police present there at shrine would have stopped the bomber as they did last year in Shikarpur when two suicide bombers tried to enter into an Eidgah mosque by initially throwing a cracker but brave Shikarpur police, despite getting injured, did not allow the bomber to massacre innocent people. One terrorist killed and the other arrested injured.

Therefore, all police officers who were penalised in Sehwan episode might have done something exceptional, had they been informed beforehand by intelligence departments whose failure this incident decidedly was!

We being cops always feel that our life is between two equally dangerous ditches. An idea always haunts us and our dearest ones that our one leg is in the grave while other in jail. Both the criminal elements as well as law elements keep a watch on us, disbelieve us, watch us, target us, abuse us, punish us, hurt us and sometimes destroy us. This is state of utter disappointment and dismisses the motivation which is required for a good professional cop.

After Charing Cross blast, police stalwarts and some security experts are in hot debate as regards what should be done to save precious lives. Some believe that it is not advisable for senior police officers to expose themselves to explosive mobs because of many reasons. DIG traffic and SSP operations Lahore are said to have had run a serious risk of their lives amid serious threat alerts by doing something that they were not professionally required to do in deeper analysis of procedures. And unfortunately this was exactly what the most of the policemen do in Pakistan; otherwise, they are described inefficient, coward, and non-professional. The example of the dismissal of Muhammad Ali Nekokara when he, as SSP Islamabad, tried to deal with crowd situation in his own way is the most relevant example in this context. Malik Saad who was doing CCPO Peshawar was assassinated by a suicide bomber while he was monitoring a Muharram procession.

Many seniors believe that availability of senior command at processions, rallies, protestations, demonstrations, and similar other crowd situations must be reviewed in the perspective of threats issued by resuscitating and regrouping terrorist networks in Pakistan in the wake of our lacklustre approach towards across the board implementation of our National action plan, particularly discontinuing military courts, extension to Afghan refugees, action against non-state actors, growth of Islamic State in Pakistan in the wake of the return of Mujahedeen from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world and also diversion of global proxies of global powers such as USA and Russia from different parts of the world to Pakistan in post CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) scenario.

Brian Willis, a famous law enforcement educator/trainer and a full-time police officer at Calgary police Service Canada, aptly responses this important question for the police in this way: “Honour the past and invest in the Future”, a two-way approach.

For honouring the past, hardly anyone can disagree with Brian Willis views. He is of the opinion that it is important for us, as the police officers, to find the answer as to what caused the death of cops in certain circumstances, how, and why?

Brian says: “Examination does not involve the greatest lie in law enforcement, which always starts with the same words-“If I was there I would have …..” It involves a question “When I find myself in such situation, what would I most like to do? This simple question points a finger at you instead of on a fallen officer. ..What are you doing to ensure you will have a more desirable outcome? What are you doing to invest in your safety and well-being? What are you doing to train on your own?” Every cop can make his or her own security audit by finding answers to these very vital professional questions.

However, investing in the future involves both investing in “your future and investing in the future of your department”. How and where this investment should be made? For this, there is hardly any better way for the cops than to train, to learn, to apply, to share, to teach, and to preach the learning and experience so gained.

If you are not leader due to your rank but new situation always offers you a space to do and not to do something very decisive. You become your own leader and make the most of the circumstances to do something for you, for your profession and for your people. Accept responsibility for your fitness, skill, and training as you have sworn to serve and protect. Nothing can absolve you from such a responsibility.

What is important now? Government in power, opposition political parties, media, intelligentsia, and the public as a whole should honour the sacrifices made by the police officers in the line of duty in exactly the same way as it is done in the case of any other armed force of Pakistan and also invest in the future of police service as the highly professional organisation standing shoulder to shoulder with world’s best police services by building its capacity and resilience in the wake of new counterterrorism perspectives.

WRITER is student of policing science

Rationalising Fighting the Crime

By: J. J. Baloch

Dolphins Police Lahore rehearsals for PSL Final 5 March 2017


“Running after crooks relentlessly is too late, like catching the horse after it has bolted hundredth time rather than learning how to lock the stable door”, aptly says British criminologist Prof. Tim Newbern. This is exactly how the Punjab police are said to have the terror threat during PSL Cricket final in Lahore clean bowled.

People as well as the analysts, when they talk about the causes of crime, they talk about distant issues like poverty, discriminations, injustice, unemployment, parenting, etc; they neglect the more immediate causes—things that it is often quite easy to control and influence. The central and very important thing is the lack of study and analysis of typical crime pattern.

For years the police have contended themselves with chasing crimes after they have occurred. If such detected crimes result in the conviction, the case is thought to be solved. It’s a good thing to be continued but would seem mad and astonishing if it is not supplemented with a smarter approach to prevent and reduce crime incidents before they take place.

New crime science recognises two major approaches of crime fighting; one is called “social crime prevention”, which focuses on “criminality” while other “situational crime prevention” which spotlights “opportunity”.  Both can produce amazing results but we argue for the latter approach as it deals with the objective and technological arrangements for fighting crime while the former focuses more on subjective things.

Crime Prevention refers to all those measures, policies, strategies and practices that seek to prevent the ‘occurrence of the criminal incident. A simple way of thinking about crime reduction opportunities requires that ‘all crime require victim, offender and location. Crime may be prevented by changing something about either of three, two of them or all of three.

Opportunity minimization approach adopted by Punjab police during PSL final match security arrangements has proven a success against a high level of the terror threat. Not only foolproof security arrangement were ensured by making heavy deployment through cordoning inside and outside, ensuring checked entries of all without any exemption, blocking strategic locations for criminals to make some secret and unnoticed entries, increasing street to street police patrol and vigilance, and running awareness campaigns on media as well as social media to make public aware of the probable and possible threats but also made a thorough spadework through gathering intelligence as well as conducting intelligence-based operations with sizeable arrests of the suspects. The police pro-activeness and preemptive measures succeeded in securing the expected outcomes. The match was played in peaceful and groovier manner and public ventilated their tensions and frustrations in the air of joy and happiness.  l_189071_071147_print

Unfortunately, such type of measures is timely but time-bound. Hardly any such preparedness of security apparatus could ever be sustained as a permanent feature and continued for a longer period due to many constraints and limitations of resources and political priorities.

However, Situational Crime Prevention focuses on ‘the occurrence of crime incidents and situations’ and seeks to reduce ‘opportunity for criminal activity or offence through visibility, presence, surveillance, and physical interventions, in reasonably suspicious situations that likely to end up in offence, by the police, the local community or any actor having stakes in social order, a security scenario as was displaced at PSL Lahore.

The analysis of situational crime prevention always focuses on the “availability of opportunity element” which encourages criminal activity by inviting criminals, by luring non-criminals and by seducing even law-abiding citizens to commit an offence. This state of affairs brings us closer to what would have been the case had the government would not have taken PSL seriously. This could have been another Sri Lankan team. However, many may differ with this extreme view, but hardly anyone could deny the importance “opportunity-factor” in promoting and reducing crime.  psl-enters-play-offs-uncertainty-looms-over-lahore-finals-security-3d66dee7609fd09ab9378c6efabb12ab

First, in order to respond to any crime problem, we need to increase perceived efforts that can help in preventing crime. These include target hardening-steering locks, anti-robbery screens; controlling access to facilities-electronic card access, entry phones; screen exits-electronic merchandise tags, tickets for entry; deflecting offenders-separate bathrooms, street closures;  controlling weapons; and employing telemetric policing methods of distant surveillance through CCTV cameras.

Secondly, we have to manoeuvre increasing “perceived risks” for offender so that he or she thinks thrice before taking risk of committing a crime. These include: extend guardianship-going out in groups, carry mobile phones; assist natural surveillance-support whistleblowers; reduce anonymity-taxi driver Ids, school uniforms; use place managers-CCTV for bus and train stations, two clerks for conventional stores; strengthening formal surveillance-red-light cameras, burglar alarms; security guards.

Thirdly, we have to make it a point to reduce “anticipated rewards of criminal activity” so that criminals lose interest by seeing difficulties in committing offences. Conceal targets-off-street parking, unmarked armoured trucks, and gender;  ensure proper documentation of all sale and purchase activity.

Fourthly, police should take all possible efforts to educate the public to reduce provocations in the society that are likely to result in big unfortunate incidents which either create serious law and order situation or end up in a felony. For this end in view, people must be bound by education as well as strict law enforcement not to irritate neighbours by noise, reduce frustrations, avoid disputes, reduce temptations etc.

Fifthly, the government must remove excuses for dispute or criminal use of force by setting rules for hotel registration, rental agreements, harassment codes, land records, job descriptions, posting instructions, etc.

Lastly, we, for a systematic analysis of crime in the area, should map crime. The intelligent use of crime mapping can provide a better understanding of crime and its location and enables improved targeting, identification of hot spots, resource deployment, intelligence products, and facilitates tactical analysis.

If adopted in true letter and spirit, the situational crime prevention or problem solving approach which this article is trying to advocate could have been able to intervene the terrorist planning to blow Marriott Islamabad, to attack Sri Lankan Team, to Kill our great leader Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, to kill our soldiers and officers both at GHQ and parade ground Mosque Rawalpindi, to kill police recruits at Manawa, to attack police recruits and lawyers in Quetta, to kill innocent people and the police in Lahore and Sehwan Sharif and many other similar activities at many parts of Pakistan.

But the million dollar question is who will champion this new approach when almost all those in crime industry are “said to have their own vested interests in the status quo”.  The media prefer to see crime as a juicy theme for their attention-seeking headlines. For lawyers, precedence is a virtue and they are content with the system which puts them at the centre and feather their own nest. Most of the academicians seem to be too interested in theorising to be of any practical value to anyone but to themselves. And most politicians shuffling from one policy portfolio to another, reckon crime can be tackled intuitively and wait for miracles to happen.

Therefore, it has been left to a new breed of thoughtful police officers, plus few diligent civil servants and one or two enlightened politicians in high places, to recognise that a new approach for crime reduction is badly needed.  Such a distinctive, intensely practical, truly scientific, evidence-driven and smarter approach is concerned with outcomes that are alarmingly visible and have very meaningful impacts on the law and order as well as on the sense of the security retained by the common man.  Thus, here, too, prevention is better than cure.

The Limits of “Take them Out” Approach

J. J. Baloch


Having moved by the inhumanity of terrorists in the face of the new wave of terror Prime Minister of Pakistan on February 18, 2017, declared “full-scale war’ on terrorists”. Inculcating a complete sense of security against the terrorism is the primary responsibility of our governments yet an appropriate preparedness is required on addressing the element of “how” this war could be and should be waged! Because things on the ground give quite a different pulse beats; It is, therefore, quite disproportionate to allow the “take them out” approach to dominate our response to terrorism.

The best counterterrorism relies on strategy, not on belligerence and ruthlessness so agree the scholars of criminal justice. Years of scholarship on crime and punishment leaks that certainty of punishment is far more impactful than its severity. Public confidence in the statutory and societal systems is birthed not by the force of its authority but generated by the legitimacy and due process of law which depend largely on the public mandate, popular support, and accountability rather than merely on coercive apparatus and muscle power.

Criminal justice policy discourses have been critical of the idea that “we can best reduce crime by aggressively arresting offenders and throwing the worst of them into prison. Here are some of the reasons why scholars believe this policy is flawed.”


Despite the best efforts of police in Pakistan and elsewhere, only a tiny proportion of crimes are solved and followed by arrest and punishment. Strangely it is quite unclear as to how this proportion can be increased significantly. Combing streets and neighbourhoods, crackdowns, operations, and increased patrols can be maintained only for short periods and, in any case, produce only a handful of arrests and preventions.

Detection is the best prevention but detective work is so time-consuming that it can be used only in the most serious cases. Even faster response times do not help the police much because perpetrators are usually long gone by the time the police are called. Despite limits and slow speed of professional work, it has very negligible impacts on serving as a cause of further radicalization of otherwise good citizens as is the danger of fallout and reaction can be predicted in using violence while enforcing the law.

“Decades of criminological research have failed to establish a relationship between severe punishment and reduced crime. The best-known example is the lack of statistical evidence that capital punishment deters murder. Because most offenders do not believe that they will be caught, they do not take the risk of severe punishment seriously; others do not care if they are caught because they are drunk or enraged when they commit their crimes.”

Same is true in Pakistan. The culture of impunity reigns supreme. The criminals believe that they can use their money and resources achieved through criminal and foul means to manoeuvre their exit from the domain of punishment and other consequences. Equally true is the factor of chronic public mistrust in government organisations to ensure that all those who commit crime are arrested and appropriately prosecuted, fairly tried and duly punished. The culture of softer punishments loaded with the traditions of corruption, influence, inefficiency and compromise hardly bear any fruit in the process of building strong criminal justice grip on all criminal elements.


The tougher sentences do not promise crime cuts. The examples of “the cult of being tough on crime” abound. The United States of America being the leading country where inmate population has multiplied yet their crime rates has not shown any signs of going down. Similarly, it is true for some European states who have followed the suit. The violence graph in such countries with tougher sentences and greater prison populations keeps going up and up. Countries such as Scandinavians where rationality prevailed and they focussed investing on rebuilding the broken minds of criminals through rehabilitation and re-connectivity of inmates to their families instead of building heavy prison structures have produced amazing results.

Coercion keeps fuelling the production criminals in the society instead of working well in building peace. The supply of offenders is never ending. According to reports, with each generation of youth, five to ten percent will turn out to be regular offenders. However, many offenders we arrest and imprison others will soon take their place. High rates of imprisonment carry high economic and social costs, both for society in general and for prisoners and their families.

Catching terrorists is not easy. They take even more care than regular criminals to conceal their activities and tracking them down has sometimes led to the use of questionable procedures. Even when we know their identities, we cannot always catch them. This is especially so when they operate overseas, in countries sympathetic to their cause: witness the fruitless efforts to date to find Osama bin Laden.

Those who are willing to die for their beliefs are unlikely to be deterred by the risk of death or punishment. They cannot be tried in open court because of security concerns, and even when convicted, they make difficult prisoners. In fact, perhaps the greatest cost of imprisoning terrorists is that their supporters feel justified in planning fresh outrages to force their release.

Killing terrorists carries even greater costs. It creates more bitterness among already hostile populations, making the conflicts that underlie terrorist acts even harder to resolve. It justifies the use of violence and supports the claim that they are fighting ruthless enemies. It turns them into martyrs and, therefore, into potent recruiting symbols among the impressionable young men whom terrorists seek to attract

None of this means that we should not punish terrorists once they are caught. They deserve punishment because of their evil deeds, and it is right to hunt them down. Some might argue that it is also right to kill terrorist leaders, particularly charismatic individuals who hold considerable sway over their followers and who cannot be replaced easily. Killing these leaders might effectively decapitate the organisation and leave its body to wither, saving the lives of many innocent people.

As a developing nation, Pakistan should rely on a multifaceted approach to terrorism. We must pursue diplomatic and military solutions together with elaborate criminal justice approaches. We must try to improve economic and educational opportunities for foreign populations, both those at risk of becoming disaffected and hostile and those at risk of takeover by terrorist organisations.

We must work to prevent terrorists from succeeding in their attacks by hardening targets and controlling the tools and weapons they use. And when they attack, we must respond rapidly and efficiently to reduce the death and damages that result. Better prevention ensures better cure. “Imprisoning or even killing terrorists will not eradicate terrorism any more than severe punishment has stopped crime.” A holistic approach as laid down in our NAP requires our attention and a complete implementation.

The Writer is policing educator and practitioner





Policing Crowds

J. J Baloch


In police, every situation is a new situation. It is truer in the case of policing crowds. Anecdotes do add value to a police officer, indeed.  Police as a profession attain soundness with developing the strong common sense in making decisions on the spot and with interacting with the public over and over. However, policing crowd has emerged as a full-fledged science of crowd management that needs to be learnt and mastered by the Pakistani cops who are over-obsessed with classical use of force or latest conduct of complete indifference towards the sense of their primary responsibility of maintaining public order.

The need to control crowds birthed the police organisation in the first quarter of 19th century AD in the West. The police force as we understand it today was invented in England and America within the space between the decades falling “roughly from 1825 to 1855”. The same model reached British India in 1861 after 1857 countrywide riots against the colonial regime. The authentic sources of police history confirm that ruling elite created police not for controlling or cutting crime but to control stormy immigrants and frenzied industrial labour riots both in London and New York.  David Whitehouse, a British scholar, says: “The new institution was not a response to an increase in crime, and it really didn’t lead to new methods for dealing with crime. The most common way for authorities to solve a crime, before and since the invention of police, has been for someone to tell them who did it.” Thus, the police are originally born to serve the regimes, not the public and this is where the modern community police draw the difference line and get redefined.

Unlawful assemblies a term used in law are synonymous with unruly and violent crowds that tend to take the law into their hands by challenging, defying, and undermining the writ of the government as well as of the state. Crowds in the streets, roads, crossings and anywhere gather on some agenda and long lists of demands with the regimes in power. Sometimes they just show force to check the pulse of the government without any demands to negotiate. Pakistan has witnessed the bloodiest crowd shows many times in its history but unfortunately, the system of crowd control is yet to grow in shapes.


Pakistan has a long history of violent crowds. However, we will refer to examples from recent history. In recent past the countrywide riots followed Benazir Bhutto murder, street clashes between MQM militia and the lawyers on notorious 12 May 2007, Pakistan Tehrik Insaf Islamabad crowds, Mumtaz Qadri hanging reactions, Hazara community reactions against terrorist activities in Quetta and many similar situations brought home the alarming fact that our police forces who were responsible for managing the crowds within the limits of non-violence acted like amateurs and in utter confusion. Indecision followed by lack of clarity and acumen to deal with both the crime and its public reactions at all occasions proved their incapacity, resulting in the vandalism and violence so inflicted by unruly crowds.

Serious confusion also existed regarding the political decision making. Many think that it is right of every citizen to fight for his or her rights and to raise the real issues facing the society. It is called the democratic rights of the citizenry who feel that something wrong is being done to them or for that matter to the people of Pakistan who they claim to represent. Sometimes the people leading the crowds defend their vandalism on the grounds of the unavailability of some basic facilities such as water, electricity, sewerage, education, health, and so on and so off. likewise, some refer to rise in street crimes in their localities while others stand for the protection of fundamental rights of life, liberty, property, honour, privacy and also livelihood.

Whatsoever is the reason but the violent methods the protestors employ to try solving their chronic problems do not justify them for sabotage nor does it give the police a licence to use coercion and brute force against them until they do not cross the line of tranquillity by crossing the limits of professionalism and humanity.

Crowds go riskier by violating laws, by infuriating the government, and by exposing the innocent people to vandalism, to terrorist attacks, and to the abuses and coercion of the police. Brutal expressions of the crowd very often result in hurting cops as it happened in PTI dharnas in Islamabad last year, in terrorists attacking and killing cops as well as the public indiscriminately as it happened in Charing Cross Lahore this February, and in killing of the people by the criminals as it took place on 12th May 2007 in Karachi. Crowds offer the opportunity to may anti-state elements to play hell with the public sentiments as well as the government in power on the one hand and make public life paralysed for their petty interests on the other. Therefore, crowds play in the plate of anarchy in the name of democracy.

Policing Crowds need rethinking on how to deal with them with minimum loss. We need to identify the methods to this madness with which we as a nation are always carried away like anything. Mostly our countrymen believe that going crowdier make them powerful, assertive and a real player on the scene to get their work done. But they do it at the peril of everything theirs. Therefore they need some solution. Some calculated and well-weighed steps need to be kept in mind while handling the crowd situations.

First and the foremost is the fact that riots are “inherently unpredictable”. As a result, it is quite likely that certain things are bound to go wrong without anyone’s surprise. Neither the rioters are much planned except the miscreants in them nor yet do police get well prepared well in advance for such coincidental happenings. Therefore, the best lesson is better preparedness, modern training, the establishment of exclusive mob control division in police departments and seeking less violent enforcement models that are used in democracies worldwide.


Secondly, while dealing with the crowds appropriate choice of words should be made. Many police professionals who have long experience of managing crowd situations are of the view that the “poor choice of words” is sure to invite disaster and to arouse the negativity, hatred, anger, and violence among already disgruntled masses who take police force present on the spot as the agents of devil to play foul with them on the behalf of ruling elite. No word on the part of police officer present on the spot or not present there but issuing statements to media should give any credibility to the rioters’ violent behaviour. Police should refrain from uttering words, “we understand your anger” etc. Such statements and verbosity can add justification to the deviant behaviour of rioters and allow them to go tacitly with their nasty plans of vandalism. The words, “we hear you”, “we listen to you”, and “we are here” can be enough. Less wordy, composed, articulate, and silent cop with very decisive and meticulous diction can run the least risk of ridiculing the mob and hence can manage it well.

Thirdly, it is practice worldwide to nominate the officials for constructively engaging the mobs. In Pakistan, this does happen by default. Whosoever in government hierarchy fits well to engage crowds after looking at the nature and brand of the crowd, the officials prefer point scoring rather than any genuine interest to diffuse the tension. This is good for political expediency and administrative pragmatism but it speaks volumes of the ill-organised system of governance without any focus and leadership to take up such a matter of high public importance with required seriousness. In such state of disorder, the government must appoint a focal person from within or outside the police department as per the nature of the crowd to talk to the mob about resolving the issue facing them. Promise for service rather than a threat for consequences could work well in such circumstances.

Fourthly, in precarious circumstances where everything is unpredictable engagements must be made exclusively with leaders of the crowd at a safe place near mob location so that any targeted attack or likely situation may be avoided. Crowds without appropriate leaders lacking the focus of agitation should not be dealt on higher levels but police station level should take up with them. However, tactics like intelligence raising, increasing spy monitoring inside the crowd, enhancing Camera scrutiny through CCTV and other camouflage methods to find out where the shoe pinches will do better in such vague mob affairs.

Fifthly, good cops deal peaceful protests with caution and care. Such seasoned police officers develop ability to differentiate between the miscreants, who penetrate into peaceful demonstrators to make the most of the peaceful nature of the crowd to generate the violence without being identified in such a grand gatherings, and the peaceful protestors who pose as responsible law abiding citizens entitled constitutionally to express themselves without violating any law, causing any damage to public property, and without encroaching upon the freedoms of their fellow citizens.

Sixthly, One of the good police responses to mob situations is to find “Guy Fawkes signal”. Guy Fawkes is a typical term adopted by Florida (USA) police services to signify a character which joins crowd secretly with masked identity to cultivate violence. Such person does join all crowd occasions with intent to sabotage. This Guy Fawkes is very similar to the character who facilitated a bomber at Charing Cross and had he been identified before he got to the target, the things would not have been the way as it happened to be. The American police officer named Lt. Dan Marco defines such character in these words: “In 1605, Guy Fawkes was a British Rebel who was one of the leaders of the “Gun Powder Plot” in Great Britain. He was brutally executed for his part in the unrealized rebellion and he has become the spirit of many anti-“fill-in-the-blank” movements internationally. He arrives in the vestige of the “Vendetta”-masked individual, and his presence usually indicates the crowd is at least sprinkled with sympathisers of the prone-to-violence anarchist movement.”

Seventhly, Together with all sophistication in crowd management, the police officers on the spot must behave without losing their balances and without breaking their nerves. It is one of the time-tested classic crowd handling tactics to behave as true professional by getting eggs, bottles, and rocks on themselves with the smile. But equally important is to be extremely cautious for staying defensive as well as defended. At such precarious occasions, the police should use force proportionate to crowd violence. Soft weapons like non-life-taking weapons as tear gas, hot water with pressure, rubber bullets pepper spray and other similar things that neither take life nor paralyse people should be preferred.

Eighthly, Police services in Pakistan must adopt a field force model for dealing with unlawful crowds on international standards like the one that operates in Miami USA.  Going for the ‘Miami Field Force’ concept would equip our forces with exclusivity and capability to deal with rioters by offering police department an independent, resourceful, well-trained, responsive force unit in every metropolis and the mega city of Pakistan in all its provinces. Such “Field Forces are self-contained, highly mobile teams capable of responding quickly to hot spots such as arsonists, looters, and shooters. Each unit should have its own commander, chemical munitions and tactical capabilities. These units should train together and have an established movement, parking and deployment protocol. They can be dispatched as a team to address trouble spots.”

Lastly, nothing creates the public disturbance the way a petty rumour can! While dealing with crowd situations, the police should take care of addressing media rumours well in advance or at least well in time by presenting the true picture of the issue in point. In Pakistan, it has been noticed that some people go missing and blame game against police as a primary law enforcement agency starts. Many good and bad elements join and also poke into the matter by creating mysteries and surprises of their own making, putting police in a vulnerable condition by calling violent mob scenarios for the recovery of so-called missing persons. Sometimes they make the news of missing persons as “tortured and killed” or “dead body found and is identified as Mr X who went missing a few days back” on social media. Such type of news lacks authenticity and verification and requires further inquiry to nip it in the bud. “Rumour control is absolutely necessary when facing potential civil disturbances. The ball was not dropped here — it was never even picked up in order for it to be dropped.”

In the wake of above proposals, the Police departments in Pakistan must notify their field forces and crowd management divisions while the government should evolve and issue proper standard operating procedures and an elaborate mechanism of crowd engagement and control for minimising the public disturbance levels and the government losses.

Policing the Risk of Terrorism

J. J. Baloch


Understanding the risk of terrorism is key to effective policing. for doing so let us start with the presumption that terrorists think more in advance than the cops and are smarter to keep posted and updated about the risk preventions carried out by the statutory watchdogs. Very fundamental strategy in risk management of terrorist threat is to keep reading inside the terrorist mindsets. The reflection of terrorist minds appears vividly in their narratives that mirror their priorities and their selected and possible targets as well as their ways of executing them.

Evaluating terrorist threat is of foremost importance in this regard. The available terrorist networks, their safe places to operate, their capabilities to strike and their inter groups associations guide professional law enforcement officers to make the idea about the probabilities and possibilities of their actions in store. This helps much in predicting and hence taking necessary measures to prevent the occurrence of terrorist attacks by minimising the opportunity available due to vulnerability levels of such targets.

The levels of security and protection of the possible terrorist attacks define the vulnerability factor. For this end in view identifying the targets in your jurisdiction that are at the greatest risk of terrorist attack and, therefore, are most in need of protection could serve as the important strategic step in pre-empting the threat. It is easier in small towns but very complicated in urban areas with large populations as is the case of big cities such as Karachi and Lahore. In small towns, there might be only a few targets to attract terrorists, say, for example, the reservoir, a chemical plant, and the two or three local schools. Together with the managements of these facilities, you should be able to cover up.

After listing the vulnerabilities of the targets developing a plan to protect them from feasible threats would be inevitable. If your jurisdiction is larger, the process of identifying threats and determining priorities becomes much more challenging simply because there are so many more targets to consider and so many more threats and consequences to weigh. In these circumstances, you might want to institute a formal risk assessment of the terrorist threat as part of a policing program.

Policing terrorism risk is exceptionally technical and a job to be done in innovative ways. This state of affairs gets trickier especially when data exist to support quantitative assessments of threats and countermeasures. Seasoned cops, intelligence networks, academic research, professional associations, and journals do exist to serve the needs of the counterterrorism initiatives of the police organisations. For this job, we have our special branch, Intelligence Bureau, and other higher defence intelligence networks with vigilant community and intelligentsia in Pakistan.


In policing terrorism risk availability of required information to assess threat and vulnerabilities are more important than details of technicalities involved in it. Meaningful information in this regard can enable police to carry out a risk assessment study for catering the professional standards as well as for satisfying the immediate needs of the police department to minimise the risk of terrorism incidents to take place.

A lot of work has been done worldwide in evolving the terrorism risk assessment.  This work enables counterterrorism experts and professionals to carry out risk study, apply guidelines for identifying risk, reducing vulnerabilities, diluting threat and fortifying security of targets identified.

When police organisations successfully identify the most vulnerable and possible targets in their jurisdictions they should go by systematic way to ensure the security of targets by hardening it. Seven steps are suggested to thwart the risk of terrorist attack.

“Identify the people and assets at risk for each target.” By people, we mean all enterprising people in neighbouring communities of your jurisdiction. By property, it refers to buildings and intangible assets such as intellectual property. In networks, it includes all systems, infrastructure, and equipment associated with data, telecommunications, and computer processing. Information includes various types of confidential and proprietary data.

Specify the types of attack and vulnerabilities. Terrorist attacks can come in many forms such as truck bombs, hostage takings, shootings and for each facility that is at risk the police should try to identify the form of attack to which it is vulnerable. The vulnerability analysis should take into consideration anything that might be taken advantage of carrying out an attack. Specifying vulnerabilities point to the weaknesses and enables to develop countermeasure model.

“Estimate the probability of each form of attack.” It refers to total guesswork which helps in ranking the forms of attack but hardly establishes their likelihood. For example, a reservoir is more likely to be contaminated than it is to be attacked with bombs and similar other risks that escape the countermeasure focus.


“Determine the impact of an attack.” Determining the likely impact of each form of attack for each target is a difficult task. It is hard to measure fearfulness as well as the exactness in death toll and socio-political breakdown so caused. Equally intricate is estimating the property losses, disruption to everyday life, rescue needs and recovery costs.

“Develop options to mitigate risks.” Laborious it is to identify options for preventing risk and mitigating losses. The passive acceptance of the risk through a range of security options including installing equipment and hardware; altering policies, procedures, and management practices, and hiring and training security staff.

“Study the feasibility of implementing your options.” The practical strategies should receive thorough assessment at every stage. Equally important is whether the strategy will interfere substantially with the operation of the enterprise and will have higher financial costs. The challenge is to find a balance between a sound security strategy and the operational needs of the enterprise, as well as the impact on the socio-economic life of the people affected by the security program so developed to prevent the risk of terrorism.

“Perform a cost-benefit analysis.” In this final step, consider the costs and benefits of a given security strategy. Determine both the costs of implementing a strategy, for example financial, managerial, social, environmental and the various benefits, not simply reducing the harms that might result from an attack, but also other benefits, such as reducing the risk of crime.

However, in Pakistan it is not the only problem as to  ‘what and how’ the law enforcers should do to police the risk of terrorism but very fundamental dilemma is “who” will carry out such studies as well as from ‘where’ the police departments will get finances for such costly and lengthy tasks in an environments where short-lived, temporary, fast, and cheap Counter-terror measures make lethal and the quirkiest of countermeasures for terrorist threat. Policy research in Pakistan has fallen a beautiful victim to a bureaucratic boredom, an academic neglect and a political indifference.

The writer is a policing educator and practitioner


ASIS International, General Security Risk Assessment. An ASIS International Guideline. Alexandria, Virginia, 2003.

Read More: Department of Homeland Security, National Infrastructure Protection Plan. Washington, D.C., 2006. http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/NIPP_Plan.pdf

Dewar, James A. Assumption-Based Planning: A Tool for Reducing Avoidable Surprises. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Policing the Terrorism ‘Construct’

J. J. Baloch


Media ‘construct’ about terrorism dominates the terrorism discourse and influences the public perception of terrorists. Such construct miss ground reality and actual truths about what actually makes terrorism. Bringing forth the most common and the most questionable stereotypes about terrorism and addressing fears as well as anxiety associated with it would help in building resilience in the society by refreshing public faith in their socio-political institutions.

In media representations, ‘construct’ dominates the reality. Stories, therefore, are presented to make them seem relevant to the everyday experience of the audience and to engage the audience’s emotions. ‘They begin buzzing the security laps issues, law enforcement limits and tragically glorify terrorist capability to damage and destroy leaving the public with least option to trust the society and state.’

As a police officer, we should not consider everyone as a terrorist. Our this attitude of doubting everyone when we fail to unearth actual facts due to our own limits and incapacities make public hate us. It is true beyond any doubt that terrorists come in many shapes and sizes. Most of the terrorists are young males with the only handful of females. It is most unlikely that all veiled women and the young men with the beard from any part of the Muslim world or Pakistan are terrorists, even if they are sometimes behaving in a suspicious manner. They are much more likely to be confused or ignorant of the rules, and that should be the assumption when police officers approach them. They should reserve their suspicions for those who most closely fit the terrorist profile. It is here counterterrorism get complicated, sensitive, and sometimes very taxing.

Similarly, all foreigners, immigrants, and internally displaced people living in slums are not criminals and terrorists. But most of us assume they are! This is a fundamentally flawed approach to assume all disadvantaged and immigrants people displayed due to war and disasters are or can be terrorists. However, it cannot be denied that they live in a very vulnerable environment as happy targets of terrorist conversions. But that never means those who have least or little tendencies to smile on violence may be forced to believe that they are bad guys because of the status and environs they are designed to live with by sheer default of destiny.

Gerard Butler in Olympus Has Fallen

The major difference between approaches of terrorists and law enforcers in targeting the unwanted stuff in the society is that the terrorists are reckless and indiscriminate without any consideration of who and how many they are going to kill while on the contrary states behave responsibly as mothers of all souls flourishing within their bounds to learn the art of differentiating between good and bad guys.

Most of us are fancied that the terrorists are crazy, fanatics, mad, frenzied and blinded by blind faith in what they do as extremists. However, much we may disagree with the reasons for their actions, but we should remember that cold rationality guides much of terrorist behaviour. Like all organised criminals, they plan their acts carefully, they try to avoid capture, and they are determined to succeed at the cost of even their lives.

In our discussions in the back drop of suicide attacks we, the cops, get startled with the idea that the terrorists are eager to die. As we have discovered to our cost, some terrorists are willing to die for their cause. But many terrorists are careful with their lives. Not only do they have the same ambitions for success and happiness as everyone else, but they would prefer to escape and strike again rather than to fail and die. That is the reason perhaps why it took world powers long to catch Osama bin Ladin and same is true in the case of many notified terrorists and their leaders as Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi.

We are also prone to imagine terrorists as evil geniuses. Not every terrorist has the mind of an Osama bin Laden. Most are ordinary, fallible individuals. They might plan their acts carefully, but they are engaged in a risky business. They cannot anticipate every setback and on occasion will be forced to improvise and take chances. Some of their decisions will lead them to fail and perhaps be killed. Most of them play robots. Here too we need to clear our mind. This, however, does not mean to underestimate their anything but fact remains that all are not geniuses.

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We believe terrorists are strong and fear nothing. But believe you me they do fear. We also fear the emotional compositions of terrorists and are carried away by the constructed stories of their violence as the tales of their bravery. We also take them people with strong nerves who never lose their balances in the face of grave challenges. But had these assumptions been true then the terrorists would not have operated secretly, clandestinely, sometimes treacherously and unfairly against the values of humanity? During recent years it has been seen that when arrested they play very coward and disclose everything in the custody of law enforcement agencies. They have displayed very softer and cowardly in comparison of hardened criminals. Take the example of facilitators of charring cross Lahore suicide blast who revealed everything like a parrot. Similar are the other instances of terrorists in government custody.

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In theory, terrorists are believed to have the capacity of striking anywhere, but in practice, they cannot.  We have seen conserving their resources and striking where they are likely to achieve the greatest effect. If we think like terrorists we can anticipate their choices and act accordingly to protect the most vulnerable targets. There are very thin chances of terrorists attempting for impossible. Had this been true the terrorists would perhaps have destroyed many things but they cannot and hence they have not.

Many argue with strong assumptions that terrorists are unstoppable and all efforts of the government and the community are the waste of resources. But they are stoppable and there is nothing of this sort to not to prevent if proper policing initiatives are taken well in time. Mostly the history of terrorism has revealed that most of the terrorist groups last only one to two years before falling apart. There are many examples which have shown a substantial reduction in terrorist incidents and some types of terrorism like aircraft hijacking in the 1970s, embassy takeovers in 1080s, school buses kidnappings in 1990s are just a few examples. If we carefully study the steps that terrorists take to execute their targets then we find that when police intervene to make their aims and targets more difficult or risky and protect the targets that are most attractive, the terrorists have substantially been less successful in their nefarious designs.

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We believe we can win the war on terror by minimising the chances of the success of terrorists. This too is our hallucination. Failing terrorists in achieving their targets do not qualify for claiming the elimination of the scourge of terrorism once and for all. This matches with the winning war on crime in which we succeed in displacing and reducing crime but we never ever claim a zero crime because of policing only. There is more to it which we all need to explore together for getting rid of terrorism.

We are also wrong in our assumption that the terrorists will not attack us with nuclear weapons. Terrorists can. The issue is not the nukes are not part of their planning but the problem is they don’t own them. While we look into terrorist innovations we find that Islamic State (IS) war strategy is quite different and in many cases opposite of Al-Qaida. IS hosts educated lot in its missions while Al-Qaida was without such brains with western education backgrounds. Madrassa stuff had dominated the show. However, Islamic State is also reported involved in social media operation and digital terrorism as well as in using chemical weapons of deadly nature in Syria and Iraq which are unresented before. Modern terrorist organisations are hunting talent and work on conversions of high-profile government officials to the level of military generals and top politicians through their strong propaganda and captivating discourse.

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The ultimate wrong with us is our belief that only our specialised counterterrorism units and forces can fight terrorism by the help and sharing of information by our intelligence agencies specially tasked for it. Taskers only can avail nothing. Fighting terrorism tantamounts to fighting for our rights and freedoms because it deprives most of us of life, damage our properties, restrain our liberties, paralyse our societies, undermine the writ of the law and lower the state profiles. Therefore terrorism is a joint venture which can best be accomplished in partnerships of all public and private stakeholders in a holistic approach involving the common man, women and down to street watchman and town whistleblowers.

As a main source of public information the media storms us with spicy news items and sensational content to create uncertainty and anxiety among the people who start losing faith in their protecting agencies and guardian states and who start believing in terrorists, their capabilities, their warnings and in many cases their narratives as justification for their violence. We need to incorporate these and similar observations as a part of our policy and discourses so we can give a sustained and viable continuity to our struggle against all fears that govern our life.

Writer is a policing educator and practitioner