The Levies are part of a security apparatus installed between the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and settled areas known as the Frontier Region (FR). As opposed to the khasadars, referred to as “tribal police” and appointed by tribal authorities, the Levies are appointed by the political administration on merit basis and are given arms and ammunition by the government.
The 21 Levies personnel slain by militants on December 29 were recruited in 2010 by the political administration.
Defence analyst Brigadier (retd) Mehmood Shah said that Levies Forces do not operate across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Fata, and the name used for such forces there is Frontier Constabulary and Frontier Corps.
The Frontier Constabulary is a federal paramilitary unit largely drawn from K-P, said Shah. Its main function is to protect the borders of the province, check cross-border infiltration and smuggling.
The Frontier Corps is also responsible for protecting the western border regions of the country. The force is answerable to the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions and the General Headquarters.
Shah informed that, in actuality, the Levies force work in Balochistan as government employees who abide by state regulation. Tribal identity is not taken into consideration at the time of hiring.
The Levies force was established in 1859 in the Malakand area during British rule, and later expanded to Dir, Bajaur and Orakzai agencies. Political agents and district coordination officers act as commandants of Levies forces within their respective jurisdictions.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2012.