Cam­pus se­cu­rity

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Mo­ham­mad Ali Babakhel

WITH the back­drop of the re­cent at­tack on Charsadda's Bacha Khan Univer­sity, the vice chan­cel­lors of univer­si­ties in KP have de­manded in­creased funds for se­cu­rity and the de­ploy­ment of a quick re­sponse force. Would th­ese be enough to ward off the dan­ger? Cam­pus se­cu­rity re­quires a thor­ough anal­y­sis of re­al­i­ties on the ground, the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of loop­holes, and ad­min­is­tra­tive, le­gal and pro­ce­dural preven­tive and de­tec­tive mea­sures.

In the de­vel­oped world, cam­puses have their own po­lice. The Univer­sity of Cam­bridge in the UK is pro­tected by the Cam­bridge Univer­sity Con­stab­u­lary. In the US, most cam­pus po­lice of­fi­cers are com­mis­sioned through their state's peace of­fi­cer stan­dards and train­ing com­mis­sion. In­deed, at­tack­ing soft tar­gets like univer­si­ties and schools has in­ten­si­fied and is a 21st-cen­tury phe­nom­e­non.

In Pak­istan, re­cent years have wit­nessed a mushroom growth of pri­vate­and pub­lic-sec­tor univer­si­ties. This has in­creased se­cu­rity con­cerns. In the pub­lic sec­tor, some 96 and in the pri­vate sec­tor 63 univer­si­ties are im­part­ing higher education. Dur­ing the last 15 years, 102 univer­si­ties were es­tab­lished across the coun­try. Univer­sity education is no longer re­stricted to pro­vin­cial cap­i­tals.

The guide­lines is­sued by the Higher Education Com­mis­sion for the es­tab­lish­ment of a new univer­sity re­quire the main­te­nance of "or­der, dis­ci­pline and se­cu­rity" on cam­puses. How­ever, the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion war­rants the in­clu­sion of strict se­cu­rity mea­sures. Rather than be­ing merely a guide­line, com­pli­ance should be bind­ing.

Cam­pus se­cu­rity should not be left to the univer­sity ad­min­is­tra­tions alone. Fur­ther, since cam­pus se­cu­rity is very dif­fer­ent to run­ning a po­lice sta­tion, merely es­tab­lish­ing po­lice sta­tions or posts on cam­puses will not serve the pur­pose ei­ther. Tech­nol­ogy-based so­lu­tions like the in­stal­la­tion of CCTV cam­eras, met­alde­tec­tor gates, X-ray ma­chines and bio­met­ric devices may act as de­ter­rents.

Within the 1,192-acre cam­pus of the Univer­sity of Pe­shawar, there are five univer­si­ties, five cen­tres of ex­cel­lence, nine col­leges and 12 schools. They have an en­rol­ment of about 61,000. In 1987, the Cam­pus Peace Corps was raised in the univer­sity with 380 per­son­nel. But sub­se­quently, th­ese men were nei­ther trained for new chal­lenges, nor were their num­bers in­creased.

On Feb 8, 1975, Hayat Mo­ham­mad Sher­pao was as­sas­si­nated in a bomb ex­plo­sion at Univer­sity of Pe­shawar. In 2010, the vice chan­cel­lor of the Is­lamia Col­lege Univer­sity, Aj­mal Khan, was kid­napped from the cam­pus. The fo­rum of the cam­pus co­or­di­na­tion com­mit­tee that ex­ists at the Univer­sity of Pe­shawar needs to be strength­ened; other univer­si­ties could repli­cate the model. CCTV cam­eras are in­stalled at the cam­pus but a cen­tralised mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem is miss­ing.

The Bacha Khan Univer­sity was es­tab­lished in 2012 and is lo­cated in a des­o­late area sur­rounded by fields of sug­ar­cane; dur­ing the win­ters, there is usu­ally dense fog. Apart from flaws in the se­cu­rity regime, the to­pog­ra­phy and weather were also ef­fec­tively ex­ploited by the mil­i­tants. The po­lice had thrice is­sued ad­vi­sory notes to the univer­sity man­age­ment di­rect­ing the in­stal­la­tion of metal-de­tec­tor gates, CCTV cam­eras and the rais­ing of the perime­ter walls. But does merely is­su­ing an ad­vi­sory serve the pur­pose? From the at­tack on this cam­pus, it is ap­par­ent that mea­sures such as the in­stal­la­tion of alarm sys­tems, sirens, bet­ter locks on doors, and a pro­vi­sion for mass text mes­sag­ing in the event of an emer­gency could have re­duced the losses. Mo­bile pa­trols around the cam­pus could have en­gaged the as­sailants in the outer cor­don of the univer­sity.

While the role played by the se­cu­rity guards posted on the main en­trance was com­mend­able, re­port­edly out of a to­tal of 60 se­cu­rity guards 25 were ab­sent. Did any­one ever think about the need for trans­parency in the re­cruit­ment and train­ing of guards?

Ideally, cam­pus po­lice ser­vices should be the soft face of law en­force­ment, with in­tel­li­gence-led back-up. Af­ter the Charsadda at­tack, the Balochis­tan govern­ment de­cided to set up a univer­sity cam­pus se­cu­rity force, which will work un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tive con­trol of the pro­vin­cial po­lice. It will be trained and armed with the lat­est weapons. Sixty per­son­nel of the force would be de­ployed at each univer­sity.

But merely an in­crease in de­ploy­ment may not achieve mir­a­cles. Hence tech­no­log­i­cal so­lu­tions, im­proved in­tel­li­gence­gath­er­ing, vet­ting of em­ploy­ees (in­clud­ing ven­dors, con­trac­tors and sup­pli­ers), the is­suance and dis­play of iden­tity cards and se­cu­rity passes for ve­hi­cles are needed. A struc­tured hi­er­ar­chy of se­cu­rity within cam­puses war­rants the es­tab­lish­ment of ' di­rec­torates of se­cu­rity'. A com­pre­hen­sive strat­egy needs to be chalked out to purge hos­tels and staff quar­ters oc­cu­pied by out­siders.

The chal­lenge needs to be trans­formed into an op­por­tu­nity to strengthen cam­pus se­cu­rity. The grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion re­quires that the se­cu­rity of ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing cam­puses, be added to the Na­tional Ac­tion Plan.

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