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Hunting terrorists

SECURITY forces in an intelligence based operation killed five terrorists holed up in a residential building in Hayatabad area of Peshawar on Tuesday which also left a police officer martyred. Outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in an email claimed that six of its members were involved in the gun fight with law enforcement agencies.
Both Pakistan Army and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police deserve appreciation for completing the operation with utmost care ensuring that no civilian life is lost. This also shows that our security forces after registering unparalleled successes in the war on terror are not complacent but vigilant enough to root out the remnant elements and sleeper cells. This is the commitment and approach that is also required in the days ahead as the presence of terrorists in a posh area such as Hayatabad clearly indicates that the threat is still not over and consistent and coordinated efforts are required on the part of security agencies to completely rid the country of this menace. In addition, there is also need to address lacunas in the police, prosecution and judicial systems, which result in higher acquittals or fewer convictions in terrorism cases. This is the reason that in these columns we are demanding extension of the military courts until the anti-terrorism or lower courts are fully empowered through the judicial reforms process to deal with such cases. Then our investigation system is very weak. The police are the first responder in such incidents but the fact remains that they still lack capacity and even facilities to scientifically collect evidence. Our investigators are not law graduate or highly qualified and so, such basis of a case is weak one and difficult to prove a case. We need good forensic laboratories besides capacity building of the police personnel through a variety of training programs on evidence collection and efficient crime scene management in terrorism cases. For all such efforts, both the federal and provincial governments will have to stay firm and show the commitment in line with the points of the National Action Plan.