This refers to letter by Mr, Iftikhar Shaheen Mirza 'Private security guards (July 1). I fully agree with the author of this letter. I am a private security professional for the last twenty five years and had been in close association with many private security companies. In fact it is a gross negligence by the Interior ministry, provincial home departments and by owners of private security companies as regards to the standard of weapons they are made to carry, standard of training given and finally the most poor administration and welfare of these private guards. The interior ministry and provincial home departments are the governing bodies of these private security companies and formulate policies for private security companies regarding procedure of getting security clearance of guards by the police, type of weapons they can provide to their guards, type of uniform for guards and standard of training to be imparted. However, while formulating private security ordinance and rules, hands of private security companies have been kept tight. They cannot be issued arms licenses for any automatic and prohibited bore weapons like Kalashnikov assault rifles, sub-machine guns and pistol etc as issued to police and paramilitary forces fearing that these private security companies if armed with the sophisticated weapons might pose a threat to the government. But government still expects private security guards to counter terrorists and criminals who are armed with most sophisticated weapons. Presently, weapons held by private security companies are cheap, semi-automatic and sub-standard. These weapons are local made mostly in 'Darra Adam Khel in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa without any standard machinery or formulas. These weapons then somehow land in the shops of arms dealers who supply these to private security companies and mint money. Though these weapons give a look of most sophisticated weapons but their reliability, effectiveness and durability is zero. Terrorist and criminals also knows this. Interestingly, the concerned government official also knows this but ignore. On the other hand the owners of private security companies are taking full advantage of the deteriorating law and order situation in the country especially in Karachi. This is so because every industrialist, businessman and individual when feeling insecure need armed guards to protect their life and property. As soon as demand for private guards is received by a private security company, its owner hurries up to meet the demand by the given date what may come. No company can afford to keep any number of guards in pool/reserve. Hence, they have to recruit guards immediately, complete documentation, issue uniform and weapon and send them to their duty location on the date and time given by their client. If they are unable to provide the required number of guards by the given date they will loose the business. So they ignore all requirements of their medical checkup, physical fitness and training but to send guards to their clients after little briefing or at the most give them 2-3 day orientation on the weapons on which they will be performing security duty. Very few private security companies have in-house training for their guards. While majority of private security companies have to send their guards to All Pakistan Security Agencies Association (APSAA) training school established only in Karachi for three days orientation on security guard duties where on the last day of orientation they are also made to fire five rounds each with the 12 bore pump-action repeater gun and pistol and issued with the training and firing certificates by APSAA Training School and that is the end of total training. Interestingly, these certificates issued by APSAA are also acceptable by home departments because they go on the face of these certificates and the duration and standard of training the guards have received in three days orientation is not given any importance. While demanding private security guards the perspective clients ask for guards who are ex-servicemen and are quite reluctant to accept civilian guards who lack both security experience and professionalism. But since there is general shortage of ex-servicemen especially in Karachi, therefore, recruiting civilians is the only option. However, to train civilians as security guards they need to attend security guards course for at least six weeks and private security companies cannot afford to spare their guards for so many days and wants to utilize them on duty to make money instead. To make the matter still worse private security companies put their guards in a shift of 12 hours duty at day and night without realizing that the guards cannot remain vigilant continuously for 12 hours. Then they are put on duty 7 days a week with no weekly off. Sadly the clients also want two guards for 24 hours on 12 hours shift basis because if they are told to hire guards on 8 hours shift basis then they have to hire three guards for 24 hours and pay for three instead of two. Any improvement in standard of private guards and their effectiveness is only possible if government allows private security companies to possess prohibited bore automatic weapons and private security companies are made to train their guards for at least six weeks. Similarly, government should also put a ban on private security companies on putting their guards on 12 hours shift basis and using them on duty for 7 days a week without any weekly off. SQN LDR (RETD) S. AUSAF HUSAIN, Karachi, July 2.