SHABQADAR: A day after the provincial government notified police stations in the erstwhile tribal areas, levies and khasadar forces — who have for long played a similar role in these areas — staged a protest against the deployment of uniformed police in the tribal areas.
On Wednesday morning, hundreds of officials of levies and khasadar forces gathered in Khar, the headquarters of the Bajaur Tribal District. They marched from the central offices in the headquarters to the main market, demanding their rights.
They also held up banners with pictures of martyred levies officials and chanting slogans such as “Khasadar, Levies ki qurbani ko tasleem Karo” (Recognise the sacrifices of Khasadar and Levies [in the war on terror]).
Later, while addressing Khasadar and levies officials, the protesters said that they have fought against militants alongside the army in the former federally administered tribal areas (Fata) and have rendered great sacrifices for the restoration of peace in the region.
The officials added that both Khasadar and levies have proved their capabilities in the field and that the government has given commendation certificates to officials of both forces for their performance.
Despite that, he stated that the compensation packages they were provided were not at par with those given to police officers in the settled areas and other forces.
The officials complained that the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government now wants to deploy police in the tribal districts instead of upgrading and integrating the Khasadar and Levies.
They alleged that a government task force on merged tribal districts did not listen to their grievances, and threatened that their fate must not be decided without first giving them an audience. Failure to do so would see them protest on a grander scale.
Moreover, they warned that they will not allow the deployment of a police force in the merged tribal districts unless their reservations were addressed.
Khasadar and Levies force across the erstwhile tribal belts have been protesting for their rights for at least a week.
Last week, the Khasadar and Levies force in Mohmand and Bajaur tribal districts forced K-P prison police officials to return to Peshawar when they tried to assume charge of the prison in Ekka Ghund, Ghallanai and Nawagai. from levies.
Meanwhile, the K-P government on March 5 notified 25 police stations in the 25 sub-divisional headquarters of the seven tribal districts.
Earlier, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) had issued a notification appointing sessions, additional sessions and civil judges for the merged tribal districts. This move had also received a mix reaction from the residents of the erstwhile tribal areas.
On the other hand, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) official Jangreez Khan along with PPP Mohmand chapter officials Dr Farooq Afzal and Arshad Bakhtyar appreciated the appointment of judicial officers in erstwhile Fata.
Addressing a news conference in Ghallanai on Wednesday, they raised questions about setting up offices for these judges in Charsadda, Peshawar, Dir, Bannu and other districts instead of the tribal districts, claiming that it defeats the purpose.
The PPP leaders also expressed concerns over the future of the Khasadar and levies forces.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2019.