PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtun­khwa government has announced induction of 28,000 personnel of Levies and Khasadar forces currently operating in seven merged tribal districts and six sub-divisions of the erstwhile Fata (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) in the KP Police.

“Today is a historic day for the people of merged districts. The government has fulfilled another commitment with the people of merged areas,” said Chief Minister Mahmood Khan while announcing induction of Levies and Khasadar personnel into the KP Police at a press conference here on Monday.

The merger process of 16,053 Khasadars and 11,918 Levies personnel would be completed in six months, said a notification. Levies and Khasadars have been delegated powers and functions of the police.

CM Khan did not give details about the financial implications of the induction of 28,000 personnel who are poorly trained and ill equipped. He reiterated Prime Minister Imran Khan’s commitment that employees would not lose jobs after merger of tribal districts with the province.

CM says no employee will lose job after merger of tribal districts with province

A senior official told Dawn that the current budget of the Levies and Khasadar forces on account of salaries was Rs8.6 billion and after merging with the police it would put an additional burden of Rs4.5bn on the province’s kitty. The official said that the police annual salary budget amounted to Rs42bn and after the merger of these forces the budget would touch Rs55bn per annum.

The Khasadar force was raised for fulfilling collective and territorial responsibilities, including protection of strategic roads. Khasadari has something of a hereditary right — an asset, which can be bought, sold or transferred among inhabitants of respective tribes or sub-tribes.

The value of a Khasadar does not lie in his individual efficiency, but instead it is to the extent that he is a representative of his tribe. Khasadars are paid through a stipend provided directly to the tribe by the government.

The adviser on the merged districts, Ajmal Khan Wazir, and officials of the Khasadar and Levies forces accompanied the chief minister at the press conference.

CM Khan said that a four-member committee headed by Mr Wazir held talks with Khasadar and Levies officials to resolve their grievances.

He said that the officials of the two tribal policing forces had presented 22 demands to the committee. He said that the government had promulgated two ordinances regarding maintenance, regulation and transition of the two forces.

The announcement regarding induction of Khasadar and Levies personnel was made at a time when election on 21 seats, including five reserved seats, for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in merged districts is around the corner. According to the Constitution, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is bound to hold election for the provincial assembly in these districts before July 25. However, the ECP has yet to announce date and schedule for the election.

The personnel of both Levies and Khasadar forces, who were working under the federal government before the merger, recently launched a protest demanding job protection and the same financial benefits as are being paid to the KP Police. Khasadars and Levies men also boycotted recently held anti-polio drives in some areas of the erstwhile Fata.

CM Khan assured that a financial package for Levies and Khasadars would be equivalent to that of the police.

With the merger of Khasadar and Levies forces the overall strength of civil law enforcement agencies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has reached 235,244 bypassing all other provinces, including Punjab. Population of KP, including the merged districts, is 35,525,047, according to the national census report 2017. The ratio of personnel of LEAs to that of citizens is one personnel for every 151 people in the province. Punjab, with a population of 110,012,442, has 180,000 police and 18,000 Rangers personnel with a ratio of 555 people for one personnel.

The break-up of the law enforcement agencies in the province is 16,053 Khasadars, 11,918 Levies, 85,000 KP Police, 80,000 personnel of Frontier Corps, 30,000 strength of Frontier Constabulary, 7,560 personnel of Special Force for Malakand division recruited after the 2009 military operation and 4,666 personnel of Levies in seven districts of Malakand division.

Frontier Corps personnel protect areas along the Afghan border while Frontier Constabulary, a federal paramilitary police, is presently policing border of KP and the erstwhile Fata and other parts of the country.

Police, Levies and Special Force comprising retired personnel of the army and paramilitary forces are jointly operating in seven districts of Malakand division.

An official told Dawn that a plan was under consideration to extend the role of Frontier Constabulary to the merged tribal districts.

Under the proposed plan, he said, Frontier Constabulary would have headquarters in every tribal district. He said that the role and mandate of Frontier Constabulary had also changed with the merger of Fata and KP and the federal government would have to change preamble of the force.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2019

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