Pakistan to merge thousands of tribal Khasadars into KP police

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Hundreds of personnel of Khasadar force held protest demonstration last week in Peshawar, demanding the force be absorbed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) police. (AN photo)
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Personnel of Khasadar force attend a gathering before holding a protest demonstration in Peshawar, demanding merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) police. The force has now been absorbed in provincial police. (AN photo)
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Khasadar personnel talk to media after holding protest demonstration last week in Peshawar, demanding thousands of Khasadar force be merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) police. (AN photo)
Updated 27 January 2019

Pakistan to merge thousands of tribal Khasadars into KP police

  • 20,000 strong Khasadar and levies to get police training, Inspector General KP Police
  • Merger expected to bolster security in tribal belt

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.


Pakistan Air Force offers support, training to Sri Lankan military

Updated 49 min 44 sec ago

Pakistan Air Force offers support, training to Sri Lankan military

  • Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan earlier this week met Sri Lankan PM Mahinda Rajapaksa and top military officials in Colombo
  • Pakistan last month offered a $50 million credit line to Sri Lanka for cooperation in the field of defense and security  

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) chief has offered support to and agreed to strengthen cooperation with the Sri Lankan military, PAF said on Saturday.

Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan arrived in Colombo on Thursday, where he met with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and top military officials.

As Marshal Khan lauded the efforts of Sri Lankan Armed Forces in their fight against terrorism during a meeting with Defense Secretary Gen. Kamal Gunaratne, he offered Pakistan's support and cooperation, PAF said in a statement.


In this photo released by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on March 6, 2021, Pakistan Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan meets Sri Lanka Defense Secretary Gen. Kamal Gunaratne in Colombo. (Photo courtesy: PAF)

"The leaders agreed to further enhance bilateral cooperation especially in training and professional enhancement programs," PAF said, adding that Gen. Gunaratne welcomed the Pakistani air chief's visit as "manifestation of the strong bond between the Armed Forces of both the countries, especially the two Air Forces."

The Pakistani air chief's visit follows Prime Minister Imran Khan's official visit in late February, during which Pakistan offered a $50 million new credit line to Sri Lanka for cooperation in the field of defense and security.


Train derails killing 1, injuring 40 in southern Pakistan

Updated 33 min 8 sec ago

Train derails killing 1, injuring 40 in southern Pakistan

  • Accident took place between the Rohri and Sangi stations in southern Sindh province
  • Eight cars of the 18-car train from Karachi to Lahore derailed and six fell into a shallow ditch

MULTAN: Eight cars of a Lahore-bound train derailed in southern Pakistan early Sunday, killing at least one passenger and injuring 40 others, officials said.

The accident took place between the Rohri and Sangi stations in southern Sindh province and caused a temporary suspension of railway traffic in both directions, said Kamran Lashari, a railway official.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the derailment. Train accidents are common in Pakistan, where successive governments have paid little attention to improving the poorly maintained signal system and aging tracks.

Lashari said eight cars of the 18-car train that departed from Karachi for the eastern city of Lahore derailed and six fell into a shallow ditch.

Rescue official Muhammad Arshad said darkness and the remote location of the derailment hampered rescue efforts. He said the body of the woman who died and 40 injured passengers were taken to hospitals in nearby towns. It wasn’t immediately clear how many passengers were on the train.

Railway Minister Azam Sawati told a local television station that the accident was being investigated and the government would provide financial compensation to the heirs of deceased woman and all the injured.


Pakistan’s security forces kill eight militants in North Waziristan — ISPR

Updated 29 min 41 sec ago

Pakistan’s security forces kill eight militants in North Waziristan — ISPR

  • The tribal district bordering Afghanistan remained a militant stronghold for many years until authorities launched military operations in the area
  • The militants killed in the recent attacks were involved in terrorist activities against security forces and locals since 2009

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s security forces conducted two separate intelligence-based operations in North Waziristan district, said the military’s media wing, ISPR, in an official statement on Saturday, adding that eight militants were killed in the ensuing battles. 

The tribal district bordering Afghanistan remained a militant stronghold until Pakistani authorities launched clear-and-hold military operations to destroy the hideouts and communication centers of various proscribed groups. 

The recent operations in the territory were launched against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants in which three senior commanders of the outfit were also killed, the ISPR statement informed. 

It added that these people were “involved in terrorist activities against security forces, law enforcement agencies and locals of the area since 2009.” 

The militants used improvised explosive devices and indulged in target killings, kidnapping for ransom and extortion. 

The statement continued that the TTP members were also involved in recruiting young and impressionable minds, adding that security personnel recovered huge caches of arms from their hideouts. 


PM Khan asks Hafeez Shaikh to continue as finance minister after Senate defeat

Updated 06 March 2021

PM Khan asks Hafeez Shaikh to continue as finance minister after Senate defeat

  • The prime minister expresses his faith in Shaikh's professional abilities while praising him for shoring up the national economy
  • Shaikh can work in his current capacity until June, though the government may try again to get him elected to parliament

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has told his close aide Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to continue working as finance minister after Shaikh lost a general seat from the federal capital to a joint opposition candidate in the recent Senate elections, local media reported on Saturday.
In a one-on-one meeting after securing the vote of confidence from parliament earlier in the day, Khan said he had complete faith in Shaikh's professional abilities and applauded him for shoring up the ailing national economy.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) administration relied heavily on its finance minister to bring down the current account deficit and keep the financial system on track during the coronavirus pandemic.
After the Islamabad High Court ruled in a case in December that no special assistant or advisor to prime minister could chair or participate in cabinet committee meetings, Khan exercised his constitutional authority to elevate Shaikh as a federal minister for a period of six months.
According to Article 91 (9) of the Constitution, the finance minister cannot be reappointed to the same position as an unelected individual, and his defeat in the Senate election implies he may only be able to serve in his current capacity until June.
According to The Express Tribune, however, the government is likely to make one more effort to get him elected to the upper house of parliament by de-seating an opposition member, Ishaq Dar, who was elected to the Senate from Punjab in 2018 but did not take oath to the office.


In Barcelona, hugs and sea air for Pakistani-Spanish Covid ICU survivor

Updated 06 March 2021

In Barcelona, hugs and sea air for Pakistani-Spanish Covid ICU survivor

  • The 52-year-old moved to Spain from Pakistan three decades ago and has spent 48 days in ICU
  • The seaside reunion launched by Spanish hospital is meant to 'humanize' ICU stays for isolating COVID-19 patients

BARCELONA: After spending 48 days with Covid-19 in an intensive care unit in Barcelona, Ibrar Ahmed Iftikhar looked pleased to finally be out in the open.
On the Spanish city's seaside promenade his family, who had not seen him since he was admitted to hospital, greeted him with kisses, hugs and caresses.
The 52-year-old, who moved to Spain from Pakistan three decades ago, has a tube in his neck allowing him to breathe -- but preventing him from speaking. He responds to affection instead with smiles and moving his lips to try to pronounce words.
His wife holds his hand, while his brother and sister caress his face. His 18-year-old son Hussnain does not leave his side, carefully adjusting the bedsheets when the Mediterranean breeze cools the air.
"I have never been apart from my father for so long. We get along really well, we have a good connection and not seeing or talking to him for so many days has been hard," he said.
"We were waiting for a call from the doctor 24/7, seven days a week, to see what they said. My father has a very large family and we were all watching out for news."
Iftikhar was also able to see his sisters, mother and other relatives by video over a smartphone. He waved to them as they spoke.
The large white bed is surrounded by healthcare workers from the Hospital del Mar -- the Hospital of the Sea -- wearing white and green gowns.
The scene draws the attention of passers-by on the promenade which before the pandemic would have been packed with tourists.
The seaside reunion is part of a programme launched by the hospital to try to "humanise" ICU stays and "include the physical and emotional wellbeing of the patients," Judith Marin, an intensive care doctor with the hospital, said.
To take part in one of these outings, a patient must first test negative for Covid-19 and have made significant progress in their recovery.
Patients are monitored while outside and emergency resuscitation equipment is on hand in case it is needed.
The project was launched before the arrival of the coronavirus but the pandemic has made it even more necessary because of the strict isolation protocols Covid-19 patients must endure.
The hospital wants to expand the programme in the future to allow pets to visit patients in the ICU unit.
"It is not just about leaving the four walls of the ICU unit, but also doing it in a natural setting such as a seaside promenade and physically meeting with relatives," said Marin.