PESHAWAR -- The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government in late May opened the first ever fully functional police station in Wana, South Waziristan, a move welcomed by tribal leaders and residents of the district.
The opening of the station came after the KP government in March approved the establishment of a total of 25 police stations in the merged districts of the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and frontier regions.
Col. Muhammad Ijaz, commandant of the South Waziristan Scouts, inaugurated the police station on June 15.
Unlike the police force in other parts of the province, the policemen in tribal districts, as per tribal custom and tradition, will wear black shalwar kameez as their uniforms.
The police station was established in a fort vacated by the Frontier Corps, said Kokab Farooq, spokesperson for the KP Police.
"The Wana police station is fully functional and patrolling in the areas has begun," Farooq said. "More recruits are being trained to ensure the law and order situation is under control."
Khyber, Mohmand, Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan will each get three police stations, the KP government said in March. Bajaur and Orakzai will each get two, while one station each has been approved for the former frontier regions of Darazinda, Jandola, Hassankhel, Dara Adamkhel, Wazir and Bhittani.
Tribal residents appreciate having their first police station in Wana, said Farooq Mehsood, a local journalist at Lada.
"Tribe members are content with the government for establishing the police station," he said. "We want more such police stations and trained police personnel in tribal districts."
The 2018 merger of the tribal districts with KP marked an end to the British-era colonial Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) and extended laws that were in effect throughout the rest of the country to the tribal districts.
Jandad Wazir, a shoe seller in Wana Bazaar, said that he became very emotional when he saw the first police station.
"This was our dream, which is now a reality," he said.
"Hopefully the police won't face any pressure at work; the crime rate is very low because of our tribal customs," Wazir said. "We pray for the success of this new setup."
Tribe members have long fought for the abolition of the FCR and residents of the tribal belt "are satisfied to see the first-ever police station in South Waziristan", said Malik Ghulam Wazir, a candidate for the provincial assembly in PK 112 Miranshah in North Waziristan.
Having local police enforce laws that govern the rest of the country is a step forward for young residents of the region, said Asadullah Shah Dawar, a spokesman for the Youth of North Waziristan organisation.
During the era of FATA, "we had an 'inferiority complex'," Dawar said. "Now, we are content to be treated under the law like residents of other parts of Pakistan."
Dawar called for more police stations to be established in tribal districts.
The establishment of the police station is a key part of moving toward the new administrative setup in KP, said Rasool Dawar, a journalist from North Waziristan.
At the same time, "we want more police stations equipped with honest, well-trained policemen who can deal with tribes skillfully and keep a normal law and order situation," he said.
Muhammad Jamal Ud Din, a member of the National Assembly from South Waziristan, said he appreciates the establishment of the police station in Wana but stressed the need for the government to push forward on reforms.
"Though we are thankful to the government for providing a police station in the tribal district, we want the implementation of other reforms for tribal districts as soon as possible," he said.
The police are a well-equipped and fully trained force, and tribal residents are hopeful that the law and order situation will improve in the future," Jamal Ud Din added. "The tribe members will co-operate with the new [police] force in maintaining the government's writ."
Tribal residents support having the new police stations in tribal districts, which will not only ensure law and order but help in the fight against militancy in the region, said Gul Dad Khan, a member of the National Assembly from Bajaur District.
"The police are well trained, educated and capable of maintaining law and order, while understanding the law of the land to handle tribe members harmoniously," he said in an interview.
Because of their good salary, the chances of promotion and status as part of a proper police force, "the policemen will be fully dedicated in their work as compared to Levies, who were not well trained," said Khan.
"We hope the government's writ will be established after the completion of police stations in tribal districts," he said. "With the presence of police stations and police forces in the tribal areas, we will be able to ensure the elimination of possible militancy" in the region.