LAHORE – Thursday’s brazen gun attack on the under-training prison policemen in the heart of the Punjab Capital has literally exposed the weaknesses in the security and intelligence system of the province. The deadly gun attack also revealed the provincial government’s inaction and the shortcomings in the working of the law enforcing agency.

What to say about the security of the 35 policemen residing in a shabby building in the City when the police confessed that they had no idea about the prison staff residing in a hostel. In fact, City police came to know about the presence of jail policemen from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa only after the terrorists fled away after shooting down eight policemen and injuring nine others in the congested Rasool Park area.

It was the basic responsibility of the Samanabad Police Station station house officer (SHO) to keep the record of the rented buildings and those living there. It was also the prime responsibility of the Samanabad police to gather information about the new residents and suspected people living and roaming in their precincts.

This incident has also revealed that no proper foot-patrolling system by the police exists on the ground. Where are the foot constables? What are the SHOs doing? The terror strike has exposed height of negligence on part of the local police. The SHO Samanabad, DSP and the SP Iqbal Town should have been sacked immediately. Yet, the Lahore police have no proper record about the rented buildings, no matter official or private, and those living there.

Those targeted and ambushed were officials of the Prison Department Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who had arrived in the City for a training course at the National Academy for Prisons about one and a half month ago. They were 35 in number but the local police had no information about their identity, stay and activities. This police attitude suggests that even if they had they been terrorists, the local police would have no information about them.

Not enough, all the 35 prison policemen were residing in a two-room apartment since they had arrived here for a professional training course. On the other hand, the under-training officers at the Management and Professional Development Department and National Institute of Public Administration are not only provided lavish residences for their stay during the training but also sufficient police security. As a matter of fact, the police are providing security only to the VIPs and the VVIPs.

The jail administration is also responsible for the gruesome terror strike because they did not bother to inform the provincial government or the Punjab police. They arranged housing compound to accommodate their staff and took a shabby building in the underprivileged locality either to save money or to embezzle the funds.

It was also fundamental responsibilty of the federal government to inform the provinces about the training courses and presence of their staff at a time when the country is facing worst type of terrorism in the history. The attitude of the administration of National Academy for Prisons, which works under the federal government, also indicates lack of coordination between the Center and the provinces.

Although the initial investigations suggest the involvement of the Taliban in the pre-dawn terror strike, yet the motives behind the hit-and-run operations are so far not clear.

Reportedly, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Ehsan Ullah Ehsan accepted the responsibility soon after the incident took place and claimed that they planned the revenge attack because of the insulting and harsh attitude of the jail authorities towards the Taliban inmates. It is still not clear whether those targeted and killed were directly involved in torturing Taliban prisoners or it was general message to the jail authorities and the government.

Interestingly, the attackers had more sophisticated intelligence than the security agencies and the police as they executed the plan in a foolproof manner and fled away without facing any resistance. Unlike police and agencies, the gunmen had proper information and intelligence about the people residing in the hostel, located in the narrow streets in the densely populated area, their routine working, and even about their training schedule. The gunmen neither attacked nor assaulted anybody except their target. They carried out the entire operation in command-style and escaped, leaving the law-enforcing agencies to beat about the bush.

The carefully-planned attack by well-trained gunmen in Rasool Park also brought back into memory the kidnappings of Shahbaz Taseer and Warren Weinstein, an American development expert from Lahore last year, as they had been snatched away in similar hit-and-run operations from the posh localities of the City. The government and agencies are still groping in the dark with no breakthrough, no recovery of the abducted persons and, of course, no major arrest in these high-profile cases.

These incidents are an ample proof of the ability, intelligence system and penetration of the criminals in the biggest City of the largest province. Has the TTP rightly claimed that no place was beyond their reach?