Having borne some of the worst violence perpetrated by terrorists and insurgents over the past four years, the government has sought to beef the strength of law enforcement agencies in Balochistan by as much as 27 per cent in addition to improving their training and equipment, senior officials told The Express Tribune.
Some security outfits in the province could see further recruitment in the coming years.
“The massive recruitment process will continue till 2018—it’s part of the action plan against insurgents,” a senior official in Balochistan home department said last month.
Law enforcement agencies, including police, Levies, Frontier Corps (FC) and Balochistan Constabulary (BC) have seen their rank and file boosted from an estimated 83,741in 2011 to 106,243 in 2015. To afford these upgrades, the government is expected to increase the annual budgets for these forces accordingly.
According to data from the interior ministry and the Balochistan home department, the FC has seen the largest manpower increase from 38,132 to an estimated 52,000. Further, officers in the force have been increased from 248 to 511. Officials said that the force may yet recruit 75 officers and 250 junior commissioned officers to lead the force’s 58 wings and 11 minor units.
The government has also beefed up police in the province, recruiting 3, 123 personnel and raising its strength to 28,094 men with a budget of Rs9.3 billion for the current fiscal year.
The BC, too, has seen fresh recruitment with 511 personnel inducted. The force, with a strength of 9,149 men has been allocated a budget of Rs3 billion.
Bolstering ‘The cheapest force’
After having converted ‘A’ areas to ‘B’ areas in 2010, the government has over the past four years sought to bolster levies, dubbed as the ‘cheapest force’ given the small budget they receive for policing nearly 85 per cent of the province.
The strength of the force has been increased from 13,000 in 2011 to 17,000 in 2015. The government plans to increase this to 24,000 by 2018 as it seeks to improve security for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Further, the government has sought better training and equipment for the Levies. At present, the army is in the process of training an estimated 5,100 Levies personnel batch-wise. The force has also received over 15,000 small arms and vehicles with requests for more weapons in the coming years.
Director General Balochistan Levies Capt (retd) Tariq Zehri says these steps have helped the force reduce crime in the province by as much as 50 per cent.
“We provide security to all state institutions, especially to protect the Economic Corridor’s routes,” he said. “We are ready to cope with all challenges in the province.”
To boost their footprint in the province, the government has approved a budget of Rs3.2 billion to rehabilitate and reconstruct some 547 check-posts in conflict-hit areas.
“We are spending Rs35 million per month on over two dozen platoons deployed in some of the most disturbed areas of the province including Kalat, Awaran, Killa Abdullah, Quetta, Mastung, Kachhi, Sibi, and Pir Ismail Ziarat,” the senior official of the home department said.
‘Boosting troops won’t solve problems
‘General Secretary Awami National Party (Wali) Aurangzeb Kasi, who lives in Quetta, has disputed the government’s plan of countering insurgency and terrorism in the province by increasing the number of security officials.
“Give rights to residents of this province,” said Kasi, before advising the government to include more natives in the mega projects being planned in the province, including the CPEC.
“Operation of all mega projects should be the purview of the provincial authorities,” he added.
The politician warned that the problems of the province won’t be solved by turning it into an ‘FC state’.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2015.