KARACHI - Special Branch, most sensitive arm of the Sindh police performing VVIP duties and keeping tab on foreign citizens visiting the province, is not only under-staffed but also being used by the department as a fast track to give out of turn promotions to officers ignoring its own senior staffers. Established in 1914 as CID, it was bifurcated in the 70s in Sindh and renamed as Special Branch with strength of 1,600 personnel to look after whole of the province. However, with the passage of time, no increase has been made for increasing its whose number remained static even after the workload multiplied several fold, sources in Special Branch confided to The Nation recently. In the 70s, when there were only 30 to 35 police stations in Karachi, the strength of Special Branch was mere 1,600 and it had remained same despite the number of police stations in the city had increase to 106. To cope with this shortage, high-ranking officials are inducted on deputations from district and reserve police when the need arises, who remain there for a few years and return to their own departments after getting promotions. This practice has deprived of the Special Branch staffers of their promotions because it was awarded to senior officers working on deputation. Moreover, the low-ranking SB employees, recruited directly for this important agency, have been deprived of promotions for long time because of personnel of district and reserve police who got transferred themselves in Special Branch in officer grades and proceed for training due to their double seniority. Some of them allegedly prepare bogus service sheet and course entries in connivance with clerical staff in Special Branch. Special Branch is responsible for diverse tasks such as collecting political information, performing VVIP duties, guarding sensitive installations, preparing route maps for the visits of foreign dignitaries and VVIP, dealing with immigrants and others. Sources said in 1999, when the department was split into various ranges, the personnel were bound to get training for promotion on the pattern of district police. But when ranges were formed, the intelligence course was abolished from their training. Age restrictions to attend training courses had denied a good number of SB personnel of their promotions because most of them had crossed the age limit fixed for this purpose. For lower course, the age limit was 36 years, for inter 42 years and for upper, the age limit was fixed 52 years. But a large number of SB staffers could not attend these courses after becoming over age and thus lost the chance to get promotions. However, those who succeeded in meeting the age restrictions and got training were still waiting for promotions because their seniority is counted from completion of course and not from date of their appointment. A large number of staffers had successfully completed their courses eight years ago but had not been given promotions which had already been awarded to those serving in the department on deputation. Five SSP in the Special Branch are dealing the entire Sindh. They include SSP Political, SSP Security and SSP Survey posted in Karachi whereas SP Hyderabad and SP Sukkur deal all of important tasks in their respective range. Sources said that situation about shortage of staff could be gauged from the fact that six post of DSP Special Branch are lying vacant, two in Karachi and four in interior Sindh. They are DSP/ labour and DSP/ students in Karachi while post of DSP (SB) Jamshoro, DSP (SB) Nawabshah, DSP (SB) Larkana and DSP (SB) Jacobabad. The foreign registration section of Special Branch is the most under-staffed. No transfers or postings have been made in this section for a long time and same old officers are working here. It is interesting to note that registration was done manually instead of computerisation resulting in massive disappearance of foreigners in the province.