Leadership Training for FIA Management

Islamabad, Pakistan. ICMPD Pakistan organised a leadership training for FIA directors of border crossing points (BCP) at Lahore, Karachi, Sialkot and Quetta airports, as well as Taftan and Torkham land borders, held in Islamabad in mid-July. The training is the latest step in progress to develop a BCP Leadership and Management Training programme within the FIA, funded by the Austrian Ministry of Interior.

The operation of border crossing points (BCP) is a complex task that must account for a multitude of hybrid challenges and threats. For immigration agencies, such as the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) of Pakistan, this requires the combined application of advanced border control systems, risk analysis methodologies, protocols for identifying vulnerable and at-risk travellers, as well as development of contingency plans for responding to crisis situations, all while aiming to provide a safe, fast and efficient experience to the vast-majority of legitimate travellers transiting the border. In parallel, immigration agencies must ensure effective coordination with other border management agencies such as Customs and Civil Aviation Authorities.

Effective management and leadership of these operations is therefore an integral factor in the overall efficiency and security of a border crossing point. Managers must possess a comprehensive understanding of all of the above challenges and possible solutions, but also be able to translate this into effective procedures and communication protocols to deliver results on the ground. They must be confident in working and negotiating with external partners, such as other border agencies, commercial entities, travellers and local community leaders, as well as international counterparts. They must inspire and lead their internal teams, whether swiftly resolving conflicts, supporting career development, or championing the application of internal gender, diversity and inclusion policies. Ultimately, they are responsible for ensuring national security, law and order are upheld on the ground at BCPs.

Keeping this in mind, ICMPD has worked extensively with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Pakistan to develop a programme that caters to the various challenges and unique environment in the country. The ICMPD Integrated Border Management (IBM) Leadership Training curriculum has been developed and refined in collaboration with the FIA, under the “BCP Leadership Training Programme for FIA Management” project, funded by the Austrian Ministry of Interior. Following the adaptation of the training material to the Pakistani context, on 18 – 22 July 2022, ICMPD organised a 5-day training to run a pilot delivery of the aforementioned course. The training aimed to not only to enhance the knowledge of FIA officials participating in the sessions but also to test the effectiveness and relevancy of the training material on a wider audience of FIA officials, and to continue the process of appropriately refining and adapting the course material to the context.

The sessions, delivered by ICMPD Border Management Expert, Florin Dumitrescu, were attended by 14 FIA deputy and assistant directors. The participants, constituting the FIA mid-management, are responsible for overseeing BCP operations at international airports in Lahore, Karachi, Sialkot, and Quetta, as well as at the Torkham and Taftan land border crossing points.

The training consisted of two modules: Border Crossing Points (BCP) Management, and Leadership. Module 1 on BCP management covered a range of relevant specialised topics to enhance the technical knowledge of the participants, including: broad principles of integrated border management, current and emerging threats, BCP organisation and planning of border checks, risk analysis, countering irregular migration and cross-border crime, intra and inter agency/stakeholder cooperation, and international cooperation. Module 2 on leadership focused on training FIA officials on soft skills that would help them in efficient delivery of their duties with topics such as: critical thinking, effective communication, negotiation and conflict resolution, staff engagement, training and mentoring, change management, stress management, transparency accountability and integrity, and gender mainstreaming. This module also highlighted efficient and effective ways of sharing knowledge and expertise with other FIA officials in the future through formal or informal training mechanisms.

Throughout the course of the training, participants actively contributed to the discussions by sharing their experiences in the field, as well as by offering advice to their peers on how to manage difficult situations. The practical examples shared by experienced FIA officials were particularly beneficial for recently recruited FIA officials to contextualise the technical knowledge being shared in the training.

As a next step, ICMPD is arranging a Training of Trainers workshop in late August 2022, which will focus on the application and use of adult learning methodologies to deliver the contents of the IBM Leadership Training Course. This shall form a basis for developing an expert pool of BCP leadership trainers within the FIA to continue training.

Through these efforts, ICMPD aims to improve the functioning and efficiency of border crossing points in Pakistan as well as to equip the FIA with the necessary tools to sustain this capacity into the future.

The BCP Leadership Training Programme for FIA Management is funded by the Austrian Ministry of Interior and implemented by ICMPD.