Azam Khalil Heres to the men who lose What though their work be eer so nobly plannd And watched with zealous care; No glorious halo crowns their efforts grand - Contempt is Failures share G. L. Scarborough After pumping in billions of rupees, the Punjab police has made no improvement and its performance can be aptly defined with one word and that is 'failure. The recent terrorist attacks at the FIA building, the Manawan Police Training School and the elite training headquarters have exposed the tall claims made by Shahbaz Sharif that frequently echo in the print and electronic media of this country. The provincial chief minister along with the entire PML-N leadership was jumping up and down when the Sri Lankan team was attacked on its way to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. They demanded the resignation of Governor Salman Taseer and heaped all the blame on the 'incompetence of the federal government as well. After the governors rule was lifted in Punjab, the litany of blame continued and the PML-N leadership, instead of planning concrete measures against terrorism, have indulged in the blame game trying to score political points against their opponents. This does not mean that the entire fault for terrorism can be shifted on the shoulders of the Punjab government. Everyone must share this blame. However, in spite of the fact that the menace of terrorism has now existed for a considerable period of time there seems to be no answer with the security forces as to how they will curb or eliminate this challenge. On their part, the Punjab police that are notorious for their incompetence and corruption can probably never be able to handle the acts of terrorism even in the future. The basic reason for this failure is not the lack of financial resources, but poor commitment and no training for these eventualities. Another issue that hampers the performance of the police is the non-availability of proper equipment that would give them confidence to stand up against the terrorists who have the latest arms and ammunition that cannot be matched by the poor fire power of the haggard policemen. Time and again the concerned authorities had been warned that they should plan and prepare the police force on modern lines providing them with the necessary tools along with a good intelligence network so that they can come to grip with the serious problems faced by the country. Unfortunately, it is being witnessed that the terrorists seem to be winning and the police seems to be losing every time an act of terrorism happens in this country. It is a great shame that video clips show armed policemen running helter and skelter in the face of a terrorist attack, instead of taking position and engaging the savage attackers. This has happened so many times that questions are being raised as to whether the police in their present form of preparation can be of any use against the growing threat of terrorist attacks in various parts of the country. One doesnt have to be a Socrates to understand this problem and therefore it is evident that the present political leadership and the bosses of the police department are to be blamed for the current state of affairs. It was appalling to learn that the bullet-proof vests provided to the cadres by the officers had outlived their life and that bullets could easily pierce through these jackets; a fact that was known by those hapless cops who were made to wear these jackets in an effort to throw them into combat with the well trained terrorists. The result was obvious and that was, with the first sound of gunfire, these policemen ran to save their lives instead of trying to make any effort to stand and engage the criminals who have time and again wreaked havoc by their acts of terrorism in the country. Another question mark that has remained over the Punjab police is that after being aware of the serious threat why they have failed to protect their institutes which have continued to be vulnerable to attack by terrorists. The police, instead of improving their performance by a process of intensive training and provision of proper tools to the cadres, have now routinely made plans that have created more problems and put ordinary citizens to inconvenience and distress. For example, the police had closed down four schools in Lahore (and now all the educational institutions after the attack on the Islamabad Islamic University) instead of providing adequate protection facilities to these schools. They could have made available manpower till the time the school managements had rectified the weaknesses in their security systems detected by our 'agile and 'competent cops. In Lahore, several roads have either been closed or blocked, in a way that has become a serious nuisance for ordinary citizens and these roadblocks have never ever contributed in the improvement of the law and order situation in any part of the country. It was, therefore, time that senior officials sat down and thrashed out policies and prepared a plan that was viable and could lead to real betterment. And at the same time provide a sense of security to the citizens of this country. The government may consider to train and educate a group of policemen and provide them with sniper rifles that would be an extremely efficient weapon to target terrorists from vantage points that must be selected or even constructed around all the important buildings that could be attractive targets for the terrorists. These cops must be aware that they will only respond to a real threat of terrorism and not be trigger-happy zombies, otherwise instead of improving the situation they may create more tragedies for the people. Another aspect that must be considered is education of the general public who must be alert and report to the concerned authorities any unusual movement or if they see any strangers in their locality. The government must improve the performance of the Special Branch and the CID wings of the Police Department who should have the capability to infiltrate even the tightest units of terrorists and operate on modern scientific lines instead of the present 'basta intelligence gathering that is practiced today. One hopes that with improved training and commitment, a special anti-terrorist squad can be a useful element in the present police set up that could help or at least slow down the terrorist attacks that are now happening with alarming frequency without any let or hindrance. As far as the political leadership is concerned, it would be entirely proper if they stop using the police force as an instrument for their political advancement and allow it to function on merit and as a professional entity instead of being at their beck and call which is the hallmark of the present political culture in this country. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: zarnatta@hotmail.com