ISLAMABAD, Feb 23: The government is considering placing Balochistan’s districts under police control by replacing the current Levies system.
According to sources in the interior ministry, the plan to reintroduce police system is being considered on demand by Baloch leaders who want withdrawal of paramilitary forces from the province. Under the new system ‘B’ areas (where the law and order is maintained by the local militia) will be converted into ‘A’ areas.
The plan would be discussed at the all-party conference which was likely to be convened by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to seek consensus on ways of restoring peace in the province, the sources said.
The conversion of B areas had been started by the Musharraf’s regime in 2003 by converting Quetta, Naseerabad and Lasbela districts into A areas.
But the PPP-led government restored the Levies’ role following a resolution unanimously adopted by Balochistan Assembly.
The previous government had spent Rs5 billion on Levies. The current government restored Levies Force in six districts, but the process was stopped in 2009 after the Balochistan High Court issued a stay order on a petition filed by some police officials.
The process of restoration of Levies Force has resumed because a full bench of the BHC has rejected the petition and upheld the decision of the provincial government.
Official sources said that Levies personnel took over control from police in several tehsils of Panjgur, Nushki, Loralai, Harnai, Qila Abdullah and Washuk on Sunday.
When contacted, presidential spokesman said he did not know that the government was considering restoring police system.
PPP leader Mir Baz Khetran said there were some flaws in service structure of the Levies, adding that people of Balochistan wanted removal of Frontier Corps and intelligence agencies from the province.
However, he claimed, Baloch leaders did not support revival of police system in the province and what they wanted was some improvement and streamlining of the Levies system.
He said Baloch people wanted removal of the Levies personnel from Kohlu and Sui areas. “Some 3,000 Levies personnel were given by former president Gen Musharraf to two Baloch leaders, Mohabbat Marri and Ghulam Qadir Masoori, for their own protection,” he claimed.
Another Baloch leader, Shahid Bugti, said there was police system in several districts before the Musharraf regime made changes in the system, adding that districts of Quetta, Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Bolan, Sibi and Bela were in that list.
“In the pre-Musharraf era Levies were in rural areas while police were in urban areas of the province and the rate of crime was very low,” he said.
Mr Bugti said that Gen Musharraf introduced a system of his choosing which was against the will of Baloch leaders and since there were flaws in that system the situation turned from bad to worse.
He pointed out that almost all police personnel in the Musharraf’s system were from other provinces and they were not trained to control the situation.