LAHORE  - Punjab has completed the recruitment of 1500 corporals for the Anti-Terrorism Force (ATF).

Sources said 1,500 personnel were inducted in the special force being established to cope with rising challenge of homegrown insurgency.

“These corporals are selected purely on merit through the National Testing Service (NTS) and they are ready to join a nine--month training course within days,” a spokesperson for the Punjab government said quoting Police Reforms Committee Chairman Shuja Khanzada on Monday.

According to Col (r) Shuja Khanzada, training arrangements are completed and 50 Turkish instructors are expected to land in Pakistan for the capacity building of the newly-inducted ATF.

Officials say the corporals’ training has been divided in three phases – four-months exercise as Elite Force, three-month experience as intelligence personnel and three months as special anti-terror squad. This provincial anti-terror force is part of the National Internal Security Policy (NISP) released by the Centre on 26 February.

The enforcement of National Counter Terrorism Authority will help ensure foolproof security for public. The authorities are asked to make operational the NACTA as early as possible.

Police believe the corporals will be the replica of Elite Force set up in the 1990s to combat sectarianism.

The Pakistan Army will help authorities ensure best professional training for the corporals

The process is also underway to hire the services of ex-servicemen to lead the counter terrorism department.

As per the plan, the ATF would not only work to overcome terrorism in the province but also it would be tasked to dismantle terrorists’ activities across the country.

At least 22 terrorist attacks have taken place in the country since peace talks with Taliban began. TTP claimed responsibility for Karachi blast that claimed the lives of 13 cops.

Mohmand TTP claimed the responsibility of killing 23 FC soldiers in revenge. An unknown splinter group of TTP, Ahrarul Hind, had also announced that it would not abide by any ceasefire agreed between TTP and government unless Islamic Shariah was enforced throughout Pakistan.

Security experts warn that the militants would unleash suicide bombings if the talks would fail as militants are already divided over the peace parleys.

Recently, Sheikh Abdul Aziz, the Mufti-e-Azam of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) issued a Fatwa asserting that suicide attacks are illegal and illegitimate. “Such acts fall under the category of crime and suicide bombers are destined to go to the Hell,” the grand Mufti had underlined.

The ongoing peace dialogue signifies the need to bring peace in the country and end war on terrorism to create an environment conducive enough for internal harmony and cohesion. “Since both the parties seem sincere in their efforts to bring peace in the country, therefore, restraint against any violent act is extremely essential,” said a former Chief of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) when contacted by phone.

Militants must refrain themselves from such activities as this approach only serves to be a spoiler of peace process. TTP must rein in the groups that are sponsoring terrorism despite peace process, he added.

The peace negotiations, he warned, should not be considered as a weakness on part of government but viewed as a cohesive counter terrorism policy for the cessation of violence in the country.

Experts expect that the peace process will be a win win situation for all the stakeholders and militants will also get a chance to shun militancy respectfully. However, the success of this peace dialogue predominantly lays in the seriousness of militants.