PESHAWAR: Thousands of personnel of Khasadar and levy force of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) will be absorbed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) police within the next six months, the top provincial police officer said.
“In light of Supreme Court of Pakistan directives, the process to merge over 20,000 Khasadar and levy force with the KP police will be done within six months. They will get proper training to deal with the issues in the newly merged tribal districts,” Salahuddin Mehsud, Inspector General of KP police, told Arab News.
Earlier last year, the parliament adopted a constitutional amendment, paving way for a merger of the seven tribal districts which formerly came under the FATA, with KP province, and nullifying draconian colonial-era laws that had denied people basic legal rights and prescribed collective punishment against entire tribes for offenses committed by an individual.
Last week, hundreds of personnel of the ill-equipped Khasadars, a local paramilitary force recruited from among the tribes of former FATA, staged a protest in Peshawar, the provincial capital of the northwestern province, demanding Khasadar and levy personnel be merged into KP police.
The merger announcement is met with relief about their job security, and according to the police IG, almost 90 percent of Khasadar and levy personnel will be merged into KP police with full perks and privileges.
Despite the end of colonial-era laws after the FATA-KP merger last year, conflict and crime resolution in the region remains centred on long-standing tribal negotiations and according to the KP police chief, tribal masses will be allowed to continue settling internal disputes through negotiations once they submit an affidavit to concerned authorities.
Mazhar Afridi, a junior officer in the Khasadar force told Arab News that the merger of the force with provincial police meant improved security in the militancy-plagued tribal regions because they [Khasadars] knew the local dynamics and people.
“The merger will help stabilize security in the sense that we know local people, and we know how to deal with their issues keeping in view their traditions,” he said.
For over a decade, Taliban and foreign insurgents used the tribal areas as launch-pads for attacks inside Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan, driving out local residents because the region had no government writ.
But a series of crackdowns by Pakistan’s military to flush out insurgents in these parts has triggered a mass return of locals from other parts of Pakistan.
Noor Nawaz, a tribal elder, welcomed the move.
“The merger of the Khasadars with police is a positive step because this is a force of locals who can tackle tribal issues in the backdrop of years of militancy,” he said, adding that tribal elders generally shared this view.
According to the annual security report published earlier this month by FATA Research Centre, an Islamabad organization, there was a slight improvement in the security situation with a total of 264 incidents of terrorism related violence recorded in 2018 compared to 325 in 2017, in the tribal belt.
Rehmat Khan, additional Inspector General of police (retd), said the merger of the Khasadars into the police force would bolster security because local knowledge was of paramount importance in this case.
“Local knowledge is the foundation for excellent policing and I’m sure the Khasadar force will prove to be a model police force if they get advanced training,” he said.