PESHAWAR: Condemning the May 9 violence during the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) protests, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa caretaker government on Wednesday decided to take a number of measures, including preparing the Rapid Response Contingency Plan and strengthening the Anti-Riot Squad of KP Police to effectively handle such a situation in future.
According to a handout, the decisions were taken at a meeting of the Provincial Apex Committee, presided over by Caretaker Chief Minister Muhammed Azam Khan.
Caretaker Information Minister Barrister Feroz Jamal Shah Kakakhel, Corps Commander Peshawar Lt. General Hassan Azhar Hayat, Chief Secretary Nadeem Aslam Chaudhry, Inspector General Police Akhtar Hayat Khan, and other officials attended the meeting. The divisional commissioners participated in the meeting through video link.
The forum reviewed the law and order situation with special focus on violent protests on 9th of May, discussed an action plan and the way forward to effectively deal with such a situation in the future. A number of decisions were made to this effect.
The forum condemned the violent protests on May 9 and expressed deep sorrow over the loss of precious human lives and to properties during the violent protests in different areas of the province.
The participants of the meeting were informed that protests were staged at 176 different spots of the province during which 4,063 number of roads were blocked by the protesters. As many as 20 public and 10 private buildings were damaged.
The forum was informed that a total of 101 FIRs had been lodged against the elements involved in violent protests so far. The identification of the elements involved in damaging and vandalizing private and public properties has been finalized and a number of arrests made thus far, it was added.
The forum decided to ban the protests at the KP Assembly Chowk and directed the quarters concerned to take necessary steps to specify another suitable place for public protests in the future.
It was decided in the meeting that short-term, medium term and long-term measures would be taken to strengthen the Anti-Riot Squad of KP Police to enable them to effectively handle such violent protests in the future. As the first step, Rs303 million would be provided for the procurement of latest equipment for the Anti-Riot Squad. The squad would be provided with Rs601 million and Rs1.2 billion in the second and third phases, respectively.
The forum decided to prepare a Rapid Response Contingency Plan to prevent such unpleasant incidents in the future. It was decided that a special police squad equipped with the latest and modern equipment would be allocated for the security of the Red Zone. It was decided to have Joint Control Rooms at provincial and divisional levels to identify important public buildings and installations outside the Red Zone and control such violent and unpleasant incidents in the future.
The chief minister said damaging and vandalizing private and public properties during protest was highly deplorable, adding protest and freedom of expression was a democratic and constitutional right of everyone, but this right should be exercised in a peaceful manner.
He said police were taking action against those who were involved in damaging properties during the protests and they would be taken to the court of law.
The chief minister made it clear that the government will maintain its writ at all costs and no one would be allowed to create a law and order situation in the province.