In the hows and whys of the war on terror, oft-debated and harangues, we often forget the people who genuinely fight the war against terrorism on our behalf. The countless men and women who have dedicated their time and, most importantly, their lives to the protection of the security and prosperity of their fellow citizens. Among these selfless workers are bomb disposal squads. They operate like nameless and faceless guardians who put their lives on the line to keep others safe from harm. Pakistan’s bomb disposal units throughout the country face an increasingly unstable challenge from militants – particularly in the northwestern areas – but perhaps even worse than the extremist violence is the fact that bomb disposal technicians are starved of finances and protection for their very own lives.
In a recent tragedy involving the death of four personnel of a bomb disposal unit in Peshawar, a blast killed four men including a pedestrian while the team attempted to detonate a remote-controlled bomb in a vehicle parked on the side of the road. Three men died on the spot while one succumbed to serious injuries. The Assistant Inspector General Shafqat Malik stated that his team planned to inspect the site prior to the explosion. He claimed that the loss was irreparable but the morale of the remaining bomb disposal unit remained high.
Malik’s optimism after such a bleak incident is commendable but it fails to speak for those who have constantly raised objections to the mode with which BDU workers are treated. A police official, requesting anonymity, stated that the gruesome event could have been prevented if the inspector instructed a jammer to accompany the team. Furthermore, funds are scarce for the police department. Lopsided allocation of financial aid only results in the deterioration of the department itself. Insufficient salaries, lack of promotion and insurance, perpetual danger are only some of the problems BDUs face. The government should not take them for granted; these are the people fighting the war we have the luxury of debating so self-righteously in our drawing rooms.