ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to streamline Levies forces responsible for maintaining security in federally and provincially administered tribal lands.
In a landmark development, the government has approved a new service structure for Levies policing in the tribal lands to make them more ‘compatible’ with the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary (FC) battling militancy.
According to the architects of the package, the approval by President Asif Ali Zardari will help Pakistani authorities better equip around 20,000 men to fight militants from Miramshah to Mingora.
A statement issued from the president’s office on Monday evening said the Regulations for Federal Levies Force, 2010 was approved by Zardari under Article 247 of the Constitution.
It would be applicable to both Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the Provincial Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) that includes Malakand Division.
Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (Safron) Secretary Habibullah Khan told The Express Tribune that after the implementation of the package, the Levies will have the same facilities as FC personnel. These include training and the provision of arms, ammunition and uniforms.
Besides this, the forces will be put under the command of local officials like political agents in case of tribal areas (all seven agencies) and under the district coordination officer (DCO) in regions part of PATA like Malakand, Dir and Karak.
“This (decision) will go a long way in making Levies a force that can really look after the law and order of its respective areas. We hope this will work,” said Khan, who was serving at the FATA Secretariat in Peshawar before assuming the post of Safron secretary.
He explained that Levies personnel will have the same salaries, pension plans and other financial benefits as the FC under the said package. “If any of the troopers die on duty, their families will get a ‘martyrdom package’ which is also given to paramilitary troops,” he added.
Khan said a similar package was likely to be initiated for the Levies in Balochistan, a province embattled by a separatist insurgency, but added that it is too early to make a definite assertion.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2012.
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