PESHAWAR -- Authorities in the newly merged Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Federal Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are removing checkpoints and unblocking roads as a result of improved security.
Police, army and paramilitary units set up a number of checkpoints throughout KP in past years to prevent militants from entering cities from the tribal areas and to monitor the movement of terror suspects.
Authorities used either concrete blocks or brick walls to shut down the roads in question.
"After the restoration of peace, 101 checkpoints have been removed all over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa" over the past few months, KP Police spokesman Waqar Ahmad told Pakistan Forward.
More roads will be opened and more checkpoints bulldozed in coming days, he said.
"Many roads in Peshawar have re-opened after [workers] bulldozed the walls erected on [Peshawar's] entry points," Senior Superintendent of Police Operations Peshawar Javed Iqbal Wazir told Pakistan Forward.
"We have already removed 34 checkpoints in the provincial capital for the welfare of the general public," Wazir said, adding that even more roads will re-open.
The decision to re-open roads and reduce the number of checkpoints came ahead of the official merger of FATA and KP.
President Mamnoon Hussain May 31 signed the 25th Constitutional Amendment Bill into law, the final step in extending the writ of Pakistani courts to FATA's districts and increasing development assistance to its residents.
On May 9 Pakistani Supreme Court Chief Justice Saqib Nisar ordered the opening of roads and removal of non-critical checkpoints to improve access for the general public.
Transferring control of checkpoints
Two key military checkpoints in Peshawar outside the KP Assembly building and at Amn Chowk square, established in 2009-2010 during the height of unrest, were handed over to police last month.
On May 16 Wazir, accompanied by his colleagues, ordered police officers deployed at the checkpoints to greet everyone with a smile and to further improve relations between police and the public.
"A deputy superintendent of police along with six junior officers and 60 policemen have been deployed at the two checkpoints," Superintendent of Police Cantonment Peshawar Waseem Riaz Khan told Pakistan Forward.
With the army having departed the checkpoints, police now are solely responsible for them.
The Pakistani army also recently handed over a number of checkpoints in Upper and Lower Dir to the civilian administration, including one in Chakiatan on May 29.
A long-awaited change
The removal of military checkpoints and the handover of others to police will provide relief to residents of the region, said Tariq Waheed, bureau chief of Hum News TV in Peshawar.
"It was a long-awaited development, and the public needed it the most after improvement in the law and order situation in the past few years," he told Pakistan Forward.
"The development speaks volumes to progress in law and order in the country," said Waheed, who has been covering conflict in KP and FATA for more than 15 years.
"The removal of checkpoints and the take-over of others by the civil administration give us the sense that the law and order situation has improved," said Ikram Ullah, 45, a schoolteacher from Peshawar.