The government has decided to recruit 3,000 more men into Balochistan Levies, effectively doubling the paramilitary force’s manpower in an attempt to curb the rising incidence of violence and targeted killings in the province.
The Balochistan Levies has 3,559 soldiers deputed in 16 of 30 districts in the province, according to official documents. The federal government had sanctioned 5,713 posts of Levies for Federally Administered Tribal Areas and 3,100 for Balochistan Levies after independence.
The finance ministry has allocated Rs742.2 million for Balochistan Levies in the new fiscal year, while Rs392 million were allocated during the last fiscal year. The Balochistan Levies have been allocated an additional Rs350 million to help improve their performance. The new recruits will be deputed in sensitive areas of Balochistan. Over 100 special posts will be created for ‘defending’ Dera Bugti, an area of major concern where subversive activities surged after Nawab Akbar Bugti’s murder.
No weapons, wireless or other equipment has been provided to the Levies, according to documents submitted before the National Assembly’s Committee on the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (Safron). There are no service rules to regulate the Levies’ services, they stated.
Minister Safron Engineer Shaukatullah said: “It is time to revamp the security infrastructure in Balochistan.” He said it was their priority to increase the internal security corps to cope with insurgents in the province.
A delegation of the Senate Standing Committee on Safron will be leaving for Quetta and other districts to discuss new recruitments with senior officials. “We will consult with the civilian government and the chiefs of paramilitary forces for the resolution of issues relating to law and order in Balochistan,” according to the committee’s chairperson Senator Hafiz Rashid Ahmad. According to details, there are over 375 soldiers in Zhob, 343 in Killa Saifullah, 316 in Dera Bugti and 135 are deputed in Quetta. As many as 140 soldiers are stationed in Ziarat, 325 in Loralai, 169 in Barkhan, 145 in Musa Khel, 341 in Kohlu, 141 in Chaghi, 134 in Pishin, 282 in Killa Abdullah, 157 in Sibi, 145 in Harnai and 270 in Shirani.
The Establishment Division had requested Safron to apprise it of the present strength of the Balochistan Levies and the number of check posts operational in every district on the federal government’s directive.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2011.