Prisoners belonging to banned militant outfits act like 'dons' in Karachi jail: Pakistan's counter-terrorism police

The Counter-Terrorism Department is likely to recommend the trial of 227 high-profile under-trial prisoners (UTPs) belonging to banned outfits be forwarded to military courts, CTD Senior Superintendent of Police Omer Shahid Hamid said during a press conference on Thursday.

"[The] Counter-Terrorism Department is likely to recommend the trial of 227 UTPs languishing in Central Prison Karachi belonging to banned militants outfits before military courts," said Hamid.

Hamid, critical of the behaviour of certain prisoners in jail, claimed that "militants of banned outfits operate like 'dons' inside Central Prison", and noted that the high-profile militants had created an 'intimidating atmosphere' in jail.

The CTD SSP said the decision had been taken after the recent escape of two high-profile prisoners affiliated with the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) from Karachi's Central Prison.

Hamid was of the opinion that a military trial of these convicts had become imperative as Anti-Terrorism Courts (ATCs) were delaying cases.

The CTD SSP revealed that around three months ago they wrote a letter to concerned authorities that around 60 UTPs ─ including the two convicts who escaped recently from the prison ─ should be shifted from Central Prison to other jails in Sindh.

He disclosed that the police had recommended shifting of such prisoners from Karachi to other jails within the province partly because the CTD had apprehensions that they might activate their networks within the metropolis.

The CTD SSP said that the escaped prisoners ─ namely Mumtaz Shaikh and Ahmed alias Munna ─ had vindicated the CTD's stance.

Hamid said Mumtaz Shaikh, who was involved in multiple targeted killings, was a roommate of Hafiz Qasim Rasheed, a terrorist known for operating his own faction of LJ in Karachi.

He pointed out that Hafiz Qasim had been arrested five years ago but his case had yet to be decided.

Besides the 227 high-profile prisoners, there are 34 convicted militants linked with banned outfits including Akram Lahori of LJ.

He recalled that Lahori had been convicted in 2002 but his appeal had still not been decided.

"The conduct of high profile militants in the prison was alarming," said Hamid.

"In fact, they acted like dons in the jail and the prison staff was fearful of adverse consequences in case of not obliging their undue favours."

The SSP, who was a member of the CTD team probing the jailbreak, said that so far no evidence had emerged that the escaped prisoners had threatened the jail staff or their families.

However, their past role showed that they had been involved in killings and threatening prison staff as well as prosecutors.

Shahid said that the CTD's initial probe revealed that there were 'security vulnerabilities' inside the prison.

To a question, the senior police official said that the recent Rangers-led operation in the Central Prison may 'hamper' their investigation as it was not known what sort of evidence they were collecting from the rooms of the escaped prisoners.

Responding to another question, Shahid ─ who had recently returned from Balochistan province ─ said that the CTDs of both provinces were trying to coordinate with each other to combat against banned militant outfits operating in the border areas.

He added that this coordination had become necessary after the Sehwan shrine attack and other bomb attacks in upper Sindh, particularly the Shikarpur and Jacobabad areas.

He revealed that the CTD in Sindh had also recently conducted a few raids in the bordering areas of Balochistan province in coordination with local police there.