In Pakistan’s fight against terrorism and violent extremism, state institutions like the Pakistan Army and the paramilitary forces acted with valor against the threat that was nurtured in the region due to varying factors. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Police had to face major challenges and acted as the first line of defense against terrorism in multiple cases, leading to many police personnel embracing martyrdom and sacrificing their lives.
Additional Inspector General (AIG) Safwat Ghayur, Superintendent of Police (SP) Tahir Dawar, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Farid Hussain Bangash, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Malik Saad, AIG Muhammad Ashraf Noor, and hundreds of other junior and senior personnel of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police are included in the list of martyrs.
Being the First Line of Defense
There is undoubtedly no objection that the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province as a whole, had to suffer a lot from the wave of terrorism in Pakistan. The military officers of the Pakistan Armed Forces and Frontier Corps along with civilians, and especially a greater number of police officers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, led their lives keeping in mind the outbreak of terrorism and brutal extremism.
The induction of extremist beliefs by non-state actors in Pashtun tribes and the development of a culture of violence rooted in the breeding of extremism since the 1980s, gave a reason to clerics with radical thoughts to point out the state’s weakness in not being able to provide proper justice and protection.
The emergence of extremist militant groups using the Islamic card for their own interests led to mob violence, slaughtering, rocket attacks, and suicide blasts in differing parts of the conflict-affected FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against the local authorities. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police was, more often than not, the pivotal focus of this violence.
The restoration of law and order in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, along with combatting elements of terrorism, had always sought a reactionary force from ambushes and bombings by terror outfits which unfortunately impacted the position of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police—the first line of defense against the wave of terrorism.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police, which is now fully under the control of the interior ministry of the provincial government, has faced the challenge of terrorism on a broader level and fought along with paramilitary forces and the armed forces of Pakistan against terrorists and militants. KPK’s police force has contributed more to this fight than any other police department in Pakistan.
A Target of Terrorism
The police department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has remained the target of militant violence, targeted killings, bomb blasts, suicide attacks, ambushes, kidnappings, and even brutal violence by leading terrorist organizations that were operating in the northwest of Pakistan.
From 2000 to 2021, it is estimated that 1,505 police officers—including senior officers—from KPK had been martyred. However, this estimate does not include the personnel of the Khasadar Force that was merged with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police after the KPK-FATA merger. The number is very high compared to the 289 martyred police officers reported from 1971 to 2000.
The number of officers injured is also high as per the records of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s provincial government. Nevertheless, the courageous position of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police proves that its service along with that of the Pakistan Army and the Frontier Corps was crucial in curbing terrorism in the northwest of Pakistan.
Though the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police was untrained and had no experience in countering terrorism in risky and terrorist-controlled areas at the start, its personnel still reacted with great responsibility by conducting major encounters, raids, and even detaining a number of leading extremists and terrorists. Nonetheless, the limitation of resources to control terrorism on the local level was also a considered challenge for the institution in the protection of citizens.
The courage of the KPK police force also led to several efficient and potential officers being martyred by the terrorists of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Lashkar e Islam (LeI). The martyrs include junior as well as senior officers, and a number of policewomen.
The displacement of people from terrorist-controlled areas and the start of military operations in different districts introduced further challenges for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police. Anyhow, the increase in challenges during the wave of terrorism still did not make the mean force stagger or sway, rather, bravely summoned the state’s writ against militants or non-state actors.
There is no doubt that political support from the ruling parties of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, like the Awami National Party (ANP) from 2007 to 2013, and Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) from 2013 to 2018, had made credible impacts, in a positive manner, by providing sophisticated arms, funds and ushering reforms. The capacity of the KPK police force to combat terrorism was also enhanced.
Martyrs of KPK Police in the War on Terror
The leading and potential officers of the KPK police force who demonstrated courage in the fight against terrorism and were martyred in the process include AIG Safwat Ghayur, SP Tahir Dawar, DIG Malik Saad, and AIG Muhammad Ashraf Noor.
AIG Safwat Ghayur
Additional Inspector General Safwat Ghayur was a qualified police officer and served as a leading training officer in the National Police Academy with outstanding skills. He conducted major operations and used technical points as a strategy for curbing terrorists and members of organized crime syndicates in the districts of Mardan, Nowshera, and Peshawar.
AIG Safwat Ghayur had an authoritative style of leadership with a vast skillset and served in important positions within the Crime Investigation Department and Frontier Constabulary. His heroic stance against terrorists as an AIG could be seen from how he roamed fearlessly against the terror elements and personally supervised operations in the field. He was a major pillar of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police, who was martyred on the 4th of August 2010, when a suicide car bomber detonated the bomb near him in Peshawar’s Saddar area.
DSP Farid Hussain Bangash
In 2009 – the worst year for the KPK Police – 209 policemen, including one SP, three DSPs, and four inspectors, were martyred in different terrorist attacks in the province. Among them was the DSP of Mardan, Farid Hussain Bangash, a true son of the soil who embraced martyrdom with open arms.
Throughout the 32 years of his service, he had been a part of 87 encounters. For him, death was not something to be afraid of, and this, coupled with his desire to serve his country till his last breath, made him a force to be reckoned with. On June 5th, 2009, DSP Farid Hussain Bangash, was shot thrice in the chest when terrorists attacked a joint police and Frontier Constabulary (FC) convoy bound for Buner at Naiban, Mardan.
The attack martyred 6 police personnel, including DSP Farid Hussain Bangash, and injured 15 more. For his meritorious service, DSP Farid Hussain Bangash was awarded the Quaid-e Azam Police Medal, Tamgha-e-Shujaat, and to honor him, Kohat’s police lines were renamed after him.
DIG Malik Saad
Similarly, Deputy Inspector General Malik Saad is also included in the list of martyrs who had served the nation with dignity and sacrificed their lives. DIG Malik Saad was a fearless officer, who dealt with high-profile criminals and terrorists with justice. He did his utmost best to ensure the sustainability of the rule of law in terrorism-affected Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
DIG Malik Saad was said to be a very skillful and energetic officer, providing protection from any sort of security threat. He served on United Nations missions as well. However, he was martyred in Peshawar when a suicide bomber exploded near him while he was performing his relentless duty on the Day of Ashura on January 21, 2007.
Observing Police Martyrs’ Day
The list of martyred police officers goes on but the institute is still serving the people through its relentless efforts to secure them from the menace of terrorism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Every year, authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the rest of Pakistan pay homage to the martyrs of the police all across Pakistan on the 4th of August.
There is no doubt that these institutions are impacted due to varying reasons like the corruption and political turmoil in Pakistan’s history, but one must keep in mind that thanking the brave heroes of the police as well as the other security forces of Pakistan, must be considered a necessary aspect of our lives to. This is the least we can do to commemorate their sacrifices in the fight against major security threats to Pakistan.
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