PESHAWAR: Chaotic scenes were witnessed both inside and outside the provincial assembly on Thursday as the house moved to pass bills about the Khasadar and Levies forces.
As the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly met on Thursday with Speaker Mushtaq Ghani in the chair, lawmakers were greeted with protesting Khasadar and Levies officials outside the assembly. They sought perks and privileges equal to the police force in the province.
Inside the assembly, the government tabled the K-P Khasadar Force Act 2019 and the Levies Force Act 2019. According to the law, the provincial government has decided against merging officials from these forces into the province’s police force immediately. While the law does provide the option to the provincial government to absorb these officers in the provincial police force at a later time, it has decided that the commandant of the two forces will be the district police officer (DPO) while the provincial government will take over full control of the forces.
Officials of both forces shall enjoy parallel policing powers as assigned to the police. Moreover, the forces will be bound to respond to calls for assistance from the district administration and other government functionaries.
Terming the law as controversial, members of the opposition benches protested against the two bills. They even tore copies of the day’s agenda and encircled the assembly speaker’s chair.
Rejecting the new laws, they demanded to fully merge officials of the two forces into the provincial police force as had been done through an executive order earlier.
During the question and answer session, Awami National Party (ANP) Parliamentary Leader Sardar Hussain Babak stated that the house should be told how much a district was being paid for the minerals and other natural resources being extracted from the particular district.
Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) MPA Mian Nisar Kakakhel from Karak asked the government to inform the house that how much royalty was being paid to the district for the gas that was produced there.
“Nobody knows how much was the provincial government paying the district,” he contended.
At this, the K-P Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai told the house that they have already devised a plan to allocate the most resources to any district which is producing something, whether they are minerals, fuel or anything else.
He assured that the royalty of any such resource will be used for the development of these districts.
However, the speaker decided to form a parliamentary committee which will be tasked with updating members of the opposition benches on the formula according to which the districts will be paid for their resources.
The K-P Assembly on Thursday also reviewed at least five resolutions including on the payment of hydropower royalties, the appointment of psychiatrists in schools, protecting officials of humanitarian organisations and clearing apprehensions of the public on extending the Swat Expressway to Fatehpur.
Presenting a resolution on protecting human rights workers in the province, MPA Asia Khattak stated that all rights bodies along with lawyers and journalists and the government must take steps to protect them. Ayesha Bano presented a resolution calling for appointment of psychiatrists in schools of the province.
MPA Naeema Kishwar presented a resolution demanding that the federal government pay royalties to the province apart from giving the newly-merged tribal districts a share from the NFC Award. Waqar Ahmed Khan demanded that the provincial government take locals into confidence on extending the Swat Expressway from Chakdara to Fatehpur.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2019.