Radicalisation in the Police

Radicalisation is defined as favouring revolutionary means for social change. The question is: what constitutes in the mind of an individual the notion of inevitability of social change and employing violent means for its realisation? Three factors influence an individual’s behaviour – internal social environment, external social interaction and international polarity system. The internal social environment encompasses the immediate social setup wherein an individual thrives and receives primary education or learning. The external social interaction covers all secondary actors who frequently meet the individual and discuss issues of mutual concern. It may also cover organisational sub-culture, which constantly influences a person during working hours. International polarity, on the other hand, is defined as the global system of governance whose parameters are set by leading developed countries and implemented across the globe. An individual gets the idea of the international polarity system through social media, external social interaction or electronic and print mass communication means. These three factors have a different impact on an individual’s radicalisation process – irrespective of his or her socio-cultural background. The radicalised individual looks for an opportunity to react at times violently and at times non-violently. These reactions get impetus due to a lose governing infrastructure and passive social control in a country or region. In regimented organisations individuals are usually subjected to disciplined lives. However, as lawlessness increases and the state loses its legitimacy of monopoly of control over violence the chances of radicalisation among members of regimented organisations increase many fold. Secondly, internal organisational dysfunctionality engenders opportunities for the radicalized members to exhibit their expressions forcefully. Such action was observed when Mumtaz Qadri, an Elite qualified Punjab Police employee, officially deputed on the security duty of the governor of Punjab, attacked and killed his benefactor in January 2011 in Islamabad despite his radicalised behaviour being reported to his superiors before the incident. Similarly, investigation reports on a number of terror attacks on law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) reveal that terrorists were abetted by insiders in carrying out such deadly acts. The army has tried to mitigate the internal threat through different reforms focusing on junior officers’ welfare, enhancing officer-subordinate communication frequency and enforcing strict discipline in all ranks. Unfortunately, such mechanisms have not been adopted in police organisations in Pakistan. Resultantly, chances of radicalisation have increased in the police force; this can dent the government’s resolve to fight terrorism. After the Mumtaz Qadri episode, psychologists were hired in Punjab to determine the mental and physical suitability of police officials for sensitive security duties. Nearly, 6291 police force members underwent psychological profiling; 1342 were verified, 17 were declared unsuitable for security duties and 4949 profiles are still pending with authorities. The practice of psychological profiling has been disrupted in 2015, leaving more than 100,000 police personnel without any official record formulation on mental stability. Close monitoring is urgently required with high frequency of officer-subordinate interactions so that the clear and precise picture of each force member can be documented. The resource distribution is also lopsided in the police department wherein 85 percent budget is consumed on pay and allowances. The amount available for force welfare is so small that no meaningful change can be envisaged in force outlook within a span of few years. In the Khyber Pakhtunkwa Police Department, which has a total strength of about 75,000, a scanning programme has been designed which has so far tested 35,000 police personnel. The points of scanning police officials include past history, family backgrounds, tribal affiliations, jihadi participation, Afghanistan tours, criminal records and income sources. These benchmarks however are not able to pinpoint the inclination towards radicalisation in an official. This is one of the reasons why only a hundred individuals have been earmarked as radicals who are currently being subjected to a thorough probe before any final decision can be taken about their future. So far not a single official has been dismissed on account of being declared a radical person in the KP police force. Nonetheless, no model exists for radicalisation detection in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In the Punjab Police Department, the psychological analysis is principally based on detecting mental equilibrium and extremist inclination during a written exercise for police officials. We have devised a de-radicalisation model but we lack a radicalisation detection mechanism for probable phasing out of suspected officials during the scanning process. The radicalisation mechanism should be based on detecting the social, ideological, political, cultural and religious inclinations of an individual. The mechanism should hinge upon the following six factors. First, the self-identification of an individual be maintained as well as how s/he defines his/her character – for example, whether an individual associates with a religious figure or defines his character in a neutral way. If the individual likes a particular national or international leader then we need to see the key characteristics of that leader. Second, how does the individual see himself vis-a-vis the whole society? Does he isolate himself or negate social alienation? Does the person express feelings for or against the government? Are there any changes in personal narratives or not? Third, the mode of social interaction and kind of social capital that an individual enjoys while living under a peculiar socio-cultural environment must be part of the radicalisation detection method. If a person has the knack of getting influenced easily and has large religious capital then s/he must be categorised carefully leading to expulsion. Fourth, whether the individual is emotionally stable or not sends alert signals on many counts including static or mobile duty suitability and VVIP protection protocol assignment deployment. Fifth, does an individual have any visible ties with tribes who are belligerent or antithetical to government policies? Does the official belong to a group having nexus with terror operators or not? Does the individual bear any connections with cross-border insurgents or not? Does the person under review have a high percentage of unpredictable behaviour when subjected to demanding situations or not? These guidelines must fit into the radicalisation model effectively. Lastly, does the person know how to use digital-electronic devices or not? The more evasive and indirect the questions encompassing all the indicators, the more precise the data compilation on radicalisation in police organisations. It is time to introduce these measures in police organisations otherwise police field formations will not be able to hold out a cleared area.

Faisal Ali Raja Thursday, July 09, 2015

The writer is in the police service of Pakistan. Email: far2105@caa.columbia.edu

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