Pakistan increases budget for police, security forces

By Ashfaq Yusufzai

A Pakistani army soldier stands guard during a search for militants on the outskirts of Peshawar June 24. Pakistan has beefed up its budget for security forces and police. [Abdul Majeed/AFP]

A Pakistani army soldier stands guard during a search for militants on the outskirts of Peshawar June 24. Pakistan has beefed up its budget for security forces and police. [Abdul Majeed/AFP]

PESHAWAR -- Increasing the budgetary allocation for security forces and law enforcement agencies will create an environment for durable peace, analysts say.

All four provinces have scaled up budgetary allocations to strengthen law and order and cope with the menace of terrorism effectively, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Talat Masood, a military and defence analyst from Islamabad, told Pakistan Forward.

This year's allocation for the army is Rs. 92 billion ($877 million), 10% more than the last fiscal year, he said, adding that the increase is sure to boost the strength of Pakistani forces.

"The Pakistani army is battling militants in all provinces effectively because the government is taking care of its financial needs," he said. "Only a well-resourced army can get rid of terrorism, once and for all."

Budget boost essential for peace

Raising the budget means that security forces will obtain better equipment and training to cope with the challenges posed by miscreants, said Brig. (ret.) Mehmood Shah of Peshawar, former security secretary for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

"It shows seriousness on the part of the provincial as well as federal governments about strengthening police, their training and salaries," he told Pakistan Forward.

Increasing the budget for the police, army and security agencies is essential if the government wants to give a final push to the remnants of terrorism and pave the way for peace and development, he said.

"The government has realised that militants are on the run and that they cannot stand up to security forces," Shah said. "But the government isn't going to take any chances and give militants the opportunity to come back."

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), which used to be a hub of terrorism, has shown great improvement during the past two years, said KP Finance Minister Muzaffar Said.

"Our government accords top priority to law and order in the province because only improved security can ensure a peaceful environment," he told Pakistan Forward.

Said presented the budget to the provincial assembly June 7.

"In the fiscal year 2017-18, we have allocated Rs. 3.9 billion ($37.8 million) to the police department, 21% more than last year, which will further solidify law and order in the province," he said.

By further empowering the police force, the government aims to defeat Taliban militants permanently, he said.

Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan provinces also have allocated 10 to 15% more for law and order.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah presented the budget in June to his provincial assembly.

"This year, we are upgrading our technology to be able to track the activities of terrorists," he told Pakistan Forward. "Police will be equipped with high-tech gadgets, and highly sensitive cameras will installed in terrorism-prone areas of the province."

Militants weakened by strong security

The KP government is aware of the needs of security forces, especially those stationed near FATA, said KP Information Minister Shah Farman.

"We, in collaboration with the army, are going to fight terrorism with more force, and within a few months, terrorism will disappear," he told Pakistan Forward.

"When we assumed power in KP four years ago, terrorism was at a peak and bombings and suicide attacks had become the order of the day," he said. "Now, there are only minor incidents of terrorism, but we cannot take such incidents for granted."

"The occurrence of acts of terrorism on a small scale shows that violence-makers are still around and that we should not ... give them a chance to carry out out big attacks," he said.

There will be no let-up in actions against the militants, he said.

"It is because of our full attention towards police that terrorism has dwindled greatly," he said. "Gone are the days when various militant factions attacked people, marketplaces, schools and hospitals."

"Our police have become thoroughly professional, and the miscreants cannot face them," he said.

Taliban cornered

Hidayatur Rehman, a retired police officer from Peshawar, praised the government's attention on security.

"Equipping police and security forces with the latest technology, weaponry and defence equipment has paid off in the past few years," he told Pakistan Forward. "They are now fully capable to fight terrorists."

Intelligence gathering has become more efficient, he added.

"These measures have resulted in better law and order overall," he said.

"The militants cannot operate freely as they used to do a few years ago," he said. "They encounter a lot of resistance from police because the police are better placed to defeat terrorism."

Previously the Taliban caused mass casualties, but now they can commit only isolated incidents, he said, adding that giving police more resources will further corner terrorists.

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