Over 100 levies officials protested outside the office of the political agent in Orakzai Agency on Wednesday, demanding authorities drop the policy of halting their salaries under the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR). They also demanded that the process of giving them pay should be made easier.
“It is shocking that whenever a major [security] incident happens in a particular area of the agency, the administration stops the salaries of our colleagues based there,” said Hawaldar Pir Gul. He added fines are also imposed on tribesmen living in the area where the incident takes place.
Subedar Zandi Gul, hawaldar Zameer Gul, sepoy Jamadar Gul all said there was no presence of the political administration and officials paid no attention to difficulties faced by the levies.
Zameer said decisions like the one to hold their salaries under the FCR will not be tolerated any longer. He pointed out dozens of his colleagues lost their lives in the war against militants and were even given awards by the government. Gul added the paramilitary force was determined to protect its soil.
Soldiers faced tremendous complications in getting their salaries and sometimes have to queue up for two to three days. This is in addition to facing hostility from the clerical staff, said Zandi.
“We are not beggars and must be treated fairly like government servants working in other parts of the country,” he said.
The levies personnel said they were finding it difficult to repay loans due to the delayed salaries.
The demonstrators said the federal interior minister, K-P governor, Kohat division commissioner and Orakzai political agent should shun the policy of halting or deducting their salaries under the FCR. They said officials must place a mechanism which allows the soldiers to get their salaries without hassle or there will be more protests.
The administration has been asked to replace levies personnel who are 60 years or older with their younger relatives. However, the paramilitary officials complained authorities stood idle over the issue.
“Officials reaching retirement age should be replaced by their young relatives, but the administration is not willing to recruit fresh blood,” said Zandi.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the political administration said they are preparing a list of officials over 60. He added there was a provision in the FCR to halt officials’ salaries.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2014.
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