PESHAWAR -- The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has approved the merger of the former tribal districts' Levies and Khasadar forces with the provincial police.
The decision came from a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan on January 23.
"The government has approved the absorption of Levies and Khasadars into the KP Police to honour another commitment made with the tribes," Ajmal Wazir, a spokesman for the KP government, told reporters.
More than 23,000 personnel of the 29,000 Khasadars and Levies will become police officers after cabinet approval. The remainder will be considered in a second phase.
"This will help improve law and order and kick off proper policing in the newly merged districts," said Wazir.
The government has formed a special technical committee to handle the change, headed by Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Special Branch Qazi Jamil ur Rehman, said KP Inspector General of Police (IGP) Sanaullah Abbasi.
Officials also have allocated Rs. 450 million ($2.9 million) to build police stations in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
"The Levies and Khasadars will focus more on maintaining law and order now as they were uncertain until recently about their jobs," said Abdul Hakeem, a resident of the Landi Kotal subdivision in Khyber District.
The Khasadars and Levies are from local tribes and can effectively fight anti-state elements in the area, he added.
Special police officers
The KP Police have recommended the compensatory Shaheed Package for the family of Waqif Ullah, a police officer and former member of the Levies and Khasadars, who was killed in a blast in Salarzai, Bajaur, on January 26, he said.
"The sacrifices of the Levies and Khasadars and now police in the newly merged districts are unmatched," said Ahmad.
The KP cabinet in the same January 23 meeting also extended the services of more than 9,000 special police officers (SPOs) whom authorities hired in recent years to fight terrorism.
Such officers became constables throughout KP to help deal with a shortage of officers when militancy was rampant.
The largest number of SPOs was recruited in Swat and other districts of Malakand Division when terrorism was at its peak there, said DIG Police Operations Kashif Alam.