PESHAWAR: With nearly 50 per cent personnel dead, the adjustment of 16,000-strong Khasadar force operating in the seven merged tribal districts and six attached subdivisions of the defunct Fata with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police or Levies force seems to be the most difficult component of the merger plan.

In background interviews senior functionaries dealing with the merger process admitted that the adjustment or regularisation of the centuries old Khasadar force with the police or local Levies would be unrealistic.

“How the government will adjust personnel of Khasadar force in police or Levies force, who do not have fixed tenure of service,” wondered an official.

He said in one of the tribal districts, over 30 per cent of the personnel of the Khasadar force were aged over 60.

“The merger or adjustment of the Khasadar force will open Pandora’s box,” said another official.

The total strength of the Khasadar force in seven tribal districts and six subdivisions is 15,673 against 10,000 personnel of Levies force. District wise strength of khasadars Bajaur 460, Mohmand 2,553, Khyber 2,369, Orakzai 830, Kurram 866, North Waziristan 1,746, South Waziristan 2,966, Peshawar subdivision 105, Kohat 395, Bannu 693, Tank 451, Lakki 188 and Dera Ismail Khan has 265 personnel.

Report claims around 50pc officials dead but their salaries are drawn by families

A report submitted to the provincial government suggests that nearly 50 per cent of the Khasadars had expired, but their salaries were regularly drawn by their kith and kin.

After the abolition of the department of law and order in the secretariat for defunct Fata, the matters related to Khasadar and Levies forces are now reported to the home secretary.

Sources said the defunct Fata secretariat had proposed to the government to offer golden handshake to Khasadar officials to relieve them or introduce new mechanism for fresh recruitment. The existing mechanism of Khasadari doesn’t match with the system of police and Levies, said one official.

Unlike Levies force, a regular force for policing in the defunct Fata, Khasadari has something of a hereditary right - an asset, which can be bought, sold or transferred among inhabitants of the respective tribes or sub-tribes.

A Khasadar official’s value does not lie in his individual efficiency but instead, it is in the extent to which he is a representative of his tribe. They are paid through a stipend provided directly to the tribe by the government.

The Khasadar force was raised for fulfilling collective and territorial responsibilities, including protection of strategic roads. The British government at that time paid allowances to the tribes in name of Khasadari. The political agent of the respective defunct tribal agency was the commanding officer of Khasadar force.

Most interesting feature of the Khasadari system is that any member of the family could turn up for duty turn by turn and a single individual is not responsible for performing duty. The salary has to be distributed to the family, which often results in financial disputes between family members and clans.

The force’s main functions are protection of their areas from offences committed by gangs or individuals, provision of escorts to the government officials and protection of state properties, tracing of the whereabouts of and recovery of kidnapped persons, and reporting of incidents.

An official document revealed that the Khasadar force’s officials were generally ill-disciplined, mostly untrained and loosely organised people, who carried own weapons and had to use own ammunitions.

Spokesman for the provincial government Ajmal Khan Wazir recently said the government would prepare bill for the regularisation of Khasadar and Levies personnel in merged tribal districts.

Sources said a large number of Khasadar officials did not have computerised national identity cards, while many of them were either displaced from native areas due to militancy or were abroad.

Officials said in one district, over 2,000 Khasadar personnel had expired but their salaries were regularly drawn in their names.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2019