The federally-administered tribal areas were brought under provincial control in 2018. This was a laudable move aimed to remove the autonomy that the frontier regions abused, especially with regard to delivery of justice.
The regions came under the control of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government, and while not much of an upgrade in terms of progress and equitable ideologies has been witnessed, K-P has tremendously improved some of its systems over the last half-decade.
Security, however, has been a long-term challenge for the province. From this vantage point, the K-P bill seeking to acquire 15,000 Federal Levies Force personnel under the provincial government’s jurisdiction seems logical.
Given the fragile security situation in the K-P region and slightly beyond its borders, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Levies Force Transition Act of 2019 should garner support.
K-P has been a difficult terrain in terms of harnessing the security situation and with its expansion via acquisition of Fata, policing the area has become a gargantuan task for which additional security forces are needed.
This is evidenced by the perpetual bombings of late in K-P. On February 19 in Mardan, seven people, including a minor girl, were injured when a toy bomb exploded.
On January 29, an entire family of six was killed due to a mortar shell explosion in their home and in November 2018, the Orakzai bombing annihilated 33 lives.
According to an earlier news report, in the last 10 years, the K-P Bomb Disposal Unit has defused two bombs every three days on average, with 1,000 explosions in that time span.
Recent figures mandate a need for more security personnel during this transition phase. A major caveat to acquiring the additional officials by K-P is that they will come under the provincial government control.
We have seen a similar failed model in Sindh where the police force is largely controlled by the provincial government, serving the needs of VIPs rather than the people.
A law-enforcing body also needs to be independent of lawmakers so that all citizens can equally be held accountable. Nevertheless, K-P’s primary concern is battling terrorism and this bill should help to remedy that.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2019.
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