SHABQADAR: A senior official of the federal government has assured members of the Khasadar and Levies forces in the erstwhile tribal areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) that they will not be disbanded and that their issues will soon be resolved through an ordinance.
This was stated by Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri while visiting Mohmand on Sunday. Qadri was in Ghallanai area of Mohmand tribal district to condole with fellow Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) NA-42 Mohmand Tribal Area-III MNA Sajid Khan whose uncle had passed away recently.
Speaking to the media, Qadri assured the Khasadar and Levies forces that they will not be disbanded.
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He further said that officials of these tribal security forces should not be worried about the security of their jobs since everyone knows of the sacrifices that they have rendered to restore peace in the erstwhile tribal areas.
Qadri reminded that he himself hailed from Khyber tribal district, of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), he was in contact with all elected lawmakers from the tribal areas and that they were working to resolve the issues of the khasadars and levies.
After the 25th amendment and the merger of Fata areas with K-P, he said that Pakistan’s Constitution has been extended to the former tribal areas. He further assured that the Constitution will be implemented across the tribal districts in its true sprite.
In the backdrop to a government crackdown on seminaries aligned with certain proscribed organisations, Qadri said that religious seminaries have a vital role to play in the society. However, he clarified that there are no seminaries which receive no foreign funding but rely on the charity of locals.
Qadri’s statement comes at a time when the levies and Khasadar force are struggling for their survival. They have been staging protest rallies in the tribal districts against an ordinance the federal government is hoping to introduce whereby the levies force officials will be commanded by the police instead of granting them equal status as police in the tribal districts. Moreover, police officers will be responsible for the postings and transfers of levies officials across the tribal districts.
While the law offers some legal cover to levies, even if it is not desired in its current form by the levies, the Khasadars face a bleak future on the proposed law.
Mohmand Khasadar force’s Pasham Gul, who has been leading the protests, told The Express Tribune that the Khasadar forces have rendered tremendous sacrifices for the restoration of peace in the tribal districts.
He added his own house had been attacked and torched by militants while he has also survived several militant attacks, losing several men along the way.
“Today, instead of recognising our sacrifices, the government is after [to eliminate] our services,” he said.
Awami National Party (ANP) Leader Nisar Mohmand, who leads the Fata Reforms Movement in the tribal districts and who opposes the levies transition ordinance, said that during the reforms process, they had been promised that 20 new police posts will be created.
However, he lamented that the government now wants to dismiss a force which is capable of running a jail, investigate crimes and pursue criminals and other police-like duties. Instead of sending a police force from outside the tribal districts, Mohmand urged the government to train and promote members of the Khasadar and levies force as police to tackle future challenges.
“Our force has well educated and well-trained officials, the government should give [policing] responsibilities, he said. However, he said that the government, on one hand, claims not to have any money but on the other are reluctant to use the levies and khasadar forces and are compelling them to protest.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 11th, 2019.