Ensuring the safety of those who save others
It goes without saying that the sacrifices made by these men must be honoured, yet it must also be ensured that all steps necessary for risk control are being followed
It was another day at work for Bomb Disposal Officer AbdurRazzaq — reportedly he went off with just a set of ‘pliers’ — when he was called into action against a bomb threat on Sariab road in Quetta on 13 February.
However, since he was ill-equipped, lacking proper safety tools, he and his partner did not survive the blast.
Razzaq was well-known as a courageous risk taker with a record of diffusing almost a 1,000 bombs across Balochistan — from suicide bombers to vehicles loaded with explosives — mostly without a proper kit.
Pakistan’s war on militancy has been going on for over a decade, but one of the most important departments lacks funding to function efficiently.
Quetta, due to negligence, has been a soft target of militants time and time again.
Despite the recurring terror attacks in Pakistan, the brave heroes of the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) risk their lives every day without adequate equipment.
As a result of insufficient funding, the district-level BDS lack basic equipment and training at junior levels.
“The bomb disposal units are properly equipped and the department has also received funds to facilitate operations,” said Balochistan Home Minister SarfrazBugti, while talking to DNA.
“However, it is true that standard operating procedures (SOP) are not followed sometimes,” he added.
The responsibility of the BDS is to provide security to politicians and VIPs, investigate blasts, and secure state institutes and rallies.
The bomb disposal officers are difficult to replace since they require hard training and the determination to work under risky conditions.
In addition to the risks involved, the job provides low income and there is no structure for promotion.
Abdur Razzaq was known for dismantling explosives without the assistance of safety equipment because as his family and colleagues say ‘he was confident’.
Although the high-risk procedures of dismantling bombs every other day might seem like a routine task to the officers involved, yet it should not be an excuse for the BDS to violate the SOPs.
“The problem lies in the attitude of those involved in the field,” said Rana Maqbool, former Sindh IG and special adviser to Chief Minister Punjab.
“Most of the squad members act in a casual manner and do not follow the drill”.
“The police are equipped with bullet proof jackets and helmets but most of them avoid using them,” he added.
However, the bomb disposal unit is only provided with one bomb disposal suit, one robot, and a water cannon gun, according to reports.
Moreover, the bomb disposal suit is inconvenient for use because of its heavy weight becoming a hindrance in mobility.
Also, a recent reported revealed that even the 15,000 explosives detecting devices manufactured in Pakistan, guarding airports, government offices, and hotels are completely useless.
The authorities must take strict action against officers for their attempts to get into action without safety gear and proper dismantling kits.
“They need to be 10 times more responsible considering the risk involved and there should not be any deviation from the procedures,” said Rana Maqbool.
It goes without saying that the sacrifices made by these men must be honoured, yet it must also be ensured that all steps necessary for risk control are being followed.
“Abdur Razzaq was one of the greatest officers we had,” said Sarfaraz Bugti.
“We are conducting an internal inquiry into the matter without disclosing reports to media so that his sacrifice won’t be compromised,” he added.
“We are fighting a war and cannot risk letting the enemy be aware of our developments,” said Bugti.
Abdur Razzaq was another brave man, who risked his life to save others, without receiving a well-deserved reward in return.
The authorities must pull a lesson out of this sacrifice and guarantee that the protection of the courageous heroes will not be compromised by deviating from standard procedures or lack of equipment.