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PESHAWAR, March 13: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday gave 15 more days to the interior ministry for redeploying several Frontier Constabulary (FC) platoons to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from other parts of the country and warned the defiance of the order could lead to start of contempt of the court proceedings against the responsible officials.

The hearing into the case was later adjourned to April 2 by a bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Irshad Qaiser.

The bench observed that FC was a very valuable fighting force but its capacity had been destroyed due to its deployment on VIP duty.

The chief justice observed that one of the major reasons for increase in acts of terrorism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other parts of the country was that FC platoons had been kept away from its original duty, which was to safeguard the buffer zone between tribal and settled areas, and had been tasked with protecting VIPs.

At the start of the hearing, a section officer and the standing counsel for the federal government said joint secretary of the interior ministry Akhtar Jan was to appear before the bench but had to return to Islamabad due to the sudden death of his mother.

They requested the bench to give them more time for implementing its orders.

The chief justice observed that on Nov 6, 2012, the high court had disposed of a writ petition filed by the provincial government through the home secretary and in light of an undertaking given by an official of the interior ministry, the court had ordered to redeploy the platoons within two months.

The officials said they weren’t familiar with the situation and therefore, they must be given more time to learn about it.

The chief justice observed that the general elections were around the corner and it could not be held in a peaceful manner in the province if the FC platoons were not redeployed there.

He observed that the officials in Islamabad were not aware of the ground realities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and had been making decisions, which were devoid of reason.

During the last hearing, the deputy attorney general had raised an objection that under the Constitution, the high court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter as it was a dispute between the federal and the provincial governments.

However, the court had overruled the objection, observing that once the government had accepted the jurisdiction of the high court and had committed before it in Nov 2012 that the FC platoons would be redeployed, then the objection at a stage when the court had conducted several proceedings in this regard, was unjustified.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, in its petition, had claimed that currently, 294 FC platoons were operating outside the province though the force was basically meant to protect the areas bordering Fata.

It pleaded that the court order the redeployment of around 180 platoons to the province without delay.