Sindh govt must explain LeJ jailbreak

Sindh govt must explain LeJ jailbreak

Two ‘hardcore’ militants belonging to anti-Shia outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) escaped Central Jail in Karachi and initial investigation suggests the prisoners fled with the assistance of the jail authorities. One of the escapees was not supposed to be produced in any court yet he was kept inside the judicial complex on Tuesday before they both managed to escape. The investigative report made some shocking revelations. It states that in presence of security in Central Jail, the militants stayed in the chamber of the judge for some time and shaved their beards in the chamber’s washroom. A judge’s chamber usually has security at all times, yet the terrorists not only stayed there but used the washroom of the chamber and no one noticed what was going on.

Twelve jail officials have been suspended for ‘negligence’ after the jailbreak, but we are not yet told who assisted the escapees and what their motive was. The investigative report further says the plan to carry out the jailbreak was hatched days ago since it was a well chalked out strategy. The government of Sindh should answer this: how we still have terrorist accomplices in state institutions, despite the military’s pledge to not spare the ‘facilitators’. Such elements need to be identified and rounded up on urgent basis to prevent further jailbreaks.

Hardcore militants should be kept in separate jails. It is appalling that there are no separate jails for dangerous terrorists despite the country fighting in the war against terrorism for several years. Investment in capacity building of law enforcement agencies is also the need of the hour but sadly no steps have been taken by the governments in this regard. After the Bannu jail break that took place back in 2012, in which over 400 inmates were able to escape, prison staff across the country should have been trained on how to prevent jailbreaks but no such thing happened and all we saw was political point scoring. A proper surveillance system should be installed in prisons to monitor movement of prisoners, while, additionally, security in and outside jail complexes should be overhauled.

But what is more important at the moment is that the escaped ‘hardcore’ terrorists are caught, because they might target the public places in the coming days. It has been just under a week since the LeJ terrorists escaped, but the law enforcers are yet to trace them. The escapees will likely be able to regroup their target-killing team if they are not immediately arrested. The police officials have assured that all-out efforts are being made to catch the terrorists, but it is a common practice in Pakistan to issue mere lip service following such incidents and it is business as usual after a few days, until we see another similar episode. Let’s hope the escapees are caught at the earliest. Security should be beefed up at all sensitive places in the province and public figures including leaders of the Shia community who have been on targeted hit lists should be provided adequate security to avoid any untoward situation.  *