PESHAWAR -- Terrorist activities and other crimes such as extortion and targeted killings in the Newly Merged Districts (NMDs) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) have sharply declined this year after police took over law enforcement in the region, a report shows.
The former semi-autonomous tribal region of Pakistan, which was once considered a lair for militants and internationally wanted terrorists, had been outside the domain of regular police forces and fell under the colonial era law called the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR).
With the KP Police now overseeing the region, known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) before its merger with KP in May 2018, the law-and-order situation has shown a marked improvement, surprising even those who opposed the FATA-KP merger.
On June 7, the KP Police released its performance report of the NMDs for the first five months of the current year, which reflected the agency's efforts to bolster its policing of the region.
Terrorism incidents in the former FATA so far this year have declined 50% from the same period a year earlier, while cases of terror financing have dropped 75%, according to the report. Extortion, target killings and kidnapping for ransom have plunged 75%, 80% and 100%, respectively.
At the same time, attacks on police and law enforcement agencies have decreased by 70% and 50%, respectively, compared with a year earlier.
Also during this period, police have arrested 134 suspected terrorists while 52 were killed by police.
Seventy-eight cases of suspected terrorists have reached the courts so far this year, with 10 of them resulting in convictions, notes the report.
"This ... drastic reduction in crime rates in the merged districts is because of our focus on effective and best policing in the region," said KP Inspector General of Police Sanaullah Abbasi.
Law enforcement leaders are fully focused on improved policing in the province, said Abbasi during a June 7 video conference with high-ranking NMD police officials.
The merger of these areas with KP and improved law and order will have a lasting impact on the region and in the rest of the country, he added.
Even as crime in the area has declined in general this year, police registered an honour killing in the Waziristan region for the first time, said Naveed Gul, spokesperson for the KP Police.
Police arrested all five suspects and presented them to the court, said Gul.
Moreover, Levies and Khasadars, the paramilitary forces formerly active in the tribal belt, have been absorbed into the police ranks and from mid-June will begin receiving online training, he said.
Crackdown on illegal drugs
In addition, the police have improved their operations against drug peddlers and arms smuggling in the NMDs, Gul said, referring to the KP Police report that detailed the hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs seized in the five districts.
"Establishing law and order in the former tribal regions is a challenging task and the police force is fully braced for the achievement of this goal," said District Police Officer (DPO) North Waziristan Shafiullah Gandapur.
The extension of policing in the region is new; therefore, some civilians become confused about the rule of law, said Shafiullah.
Still, they are happy with the progress of law and order and extend full co-operation to the police, he added.
The morale of the whole police force in the NMDs is high and officers are fully devoted to improving law and order in the region, said Syed Akhtar Ali Shah, the former secretary of Home and Tribal Affairs KP.
"If you keep the background of the region in mind, the performance of the police force exceeds expectations," he said.