Center for American Progress

Strengthen the Police and Judicial Component of Counterterrorism Assistance to Pakistan
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Strengthen the Police and Judicial Component of Counterterrorism Assistance to Pakistan

Investment in training, equipping, and expanding Pakistan’s police force and judicial system will have the greatest impact on Pakistan’s capacity to marginalize and eliminate extremist and terrorist groups.

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Investment in training, equipping, and expanding Pakistan’s police force and judicial system will have the greatest impact on Pakistan’s capacity to marginalize and eliminate extremist and terrorist groups. The establishment of the proposed Pakistani Counterinsurgency Capabilities Fund to provide additional training and equipment to the Pakistani military will also play a key role in improving the state’s ability to confront the Taliban insurgency. But the Taliban insurgency’s ability to take advantage of the official justice system’s weaknesses and instead offer their own swift and transparent system remains one of its strongest sources of support, and aid focused solely on military and paramilitary sources will be insufficient.

Providing the courts, the Federal Investigation Agency, provincial police forces, and the Intelligence Bureau with the professional training, equipment, and manpower to conduct successful investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of suspected terrorists should be a top priority for U.S. counterterrorism assistance. As the United States is learning in its attempt to shut down the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, extrajudicial efforts to confront terrorism are ultimately unsustainable in a democratic country where the rule of law applies. A sizable amount—$100 million—is specifically earmarked for police training purposes in the current language of the Kerry-Lugar Advanced Partnership for Pakistan Act legislation. But this amount may not be sufficient to help Pakistan meet its substantial law and order challenges.

In using this assistance, the United States and the Pakistani government should work to strengthen the civilian government’s oversight of Pakistan’s security apparatus and decrease the role that organizations like the Pakistan Rangers, a paramilitary force, play in providing internal security and policing. In particular, they should work to increase the capacity of the counterterrorist operations in the FIA and the IB and resist the temptation to create too many new, specialized antiterrorism structures that marginalize the country’s already-existing institutions. Counterterrorism investigations require a degree of specialized training, but broader assistance for basic police work training, increased salaries to combat corruption, and an expanded judiciary to address the country’s massive case backlog at the district and provincial levels will have a greater impact on the provision of justice in the country and the legitimacy of continued democratic governance.

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