TNN has conducted a panel discussion with eminent pro-merger lawyer Farhad Afridi, Malik Lal Badshah Safi from Mohmand Agency, anti-merger Abdul Karim Mehsud of FATA Grand Alliance and Malik Faizullah Jan from Khyber Agency about pros and cons of bringing police culture to FATA.
TNN (from Malik Faizullah Jan): The FATA Grand Alliance leaders have come out in opposition of patwar and police system in FATA. How do you see these developments?
Malik Faizullah Jan: All the MNAs signed a document six months ago that our traditions and customs will remain the same. Introduction of police culture in FATA will damage our Jirga system and other traditions. Bringing policemen in FATA and ignoring about one lakh Khassadars is against the principles of justice. We are not against the reforms, but we are saying that Khassadar and Levies personnel are already here and police will not be able to control such a large area. We have discussed this issue with the governor, political agent and Peshawar commissioner.
TNN (from Abdul Karim Mehsud): What will you say about Malik Faizullah Jan’s observations?
Abdul Karim Mehsud: It is a fact that the government has decided to set up police stations from Jamrud to Torkham in Khyber Agency as a test case. Some tribesmen misunderstood this development as a conspiracy for merger.
Farhad Afridi: The purpose of bringing police is to safeguard the roads which will be used for transit trade, CPEC and other development process. It is not being done for merger with KP. The KP Police will be appointed in FATA. No one will accept deployment of KP Police in FATA till a final decision on reforms process. Sartaj Aziz’s report also said that Levies and Khassadars in FATA will be given special training. New posts for Levies and Khassadars will also be set up for protecting development projects.
Mian Lal Badshah: It is a conspiracy. It’s just a rumour. There are check posts and police stations after every two or three kilometres area in Mohmand Agency. Check post and police station is the same thing and Levies personnel stand guard there anytime.
TNN (from Faizullah Jan): Mr Farhad says this proposal is not about setting up police stations for KP Police, but establishing posts for Levies and Khassadars. Do you agree to this viewpoint?
Faizullah Jan: It’s not like that. The proposal is about setting up police stations for KP Police. Peshawar Commissioner has also informed us about this proposal and letters have been formally issued in this regard. The commissioner would have told us if there was anything different.
TNN (from Abdul Karim Mehsud): Will the arrival of police system render thousands of Levies and Khassadar personnel in FATA jobless?
Abdul Karim Mehsud: Khassadars and Levies personnel will certainly lose their jobs with the appointment of policemen on these specific posts. This will be a big development as the only favour done with the FATA people in shape of Levies and Khassadars will also be taken back. It will also mean an end to local Jirga system. They should have trained the Levies and Khassadar personnel for joining police force as they are well aware of the local culture and system. Bringing policemen from outside FATA will only create hatred.
TNN (from Farhad Afridi): What are your views on fate of Khassadars and Levies and Jirga system after arrival of police culture?
Farhad Afridi: We can say anything to disagree with our colleagues, but I see no truth in the news that KP Police will be sent to FATA before implementation of reforms. We should convey positive news to our people that development projects will be initiated in FATA in future and Levies and Khassadars will be regularised. They will be provided infrastructure and training to enable them to carryout investigation and operations. The check posts will be handed over to them after completion of training. The Khassadars and Levies men will get the status of police and they will perform their responsibilities as such.
TNN (from Mian Lal Badshah): Faizullah Jan opposes police stations in FATA, while you are supporting it. Both of you are tribal maliks, but what is the reason behind this difference in opinion?
Lal Badshah: I respect Faizullah, but I differ with him because four border gates have been specified in FATA now, including two old gates. The old gates are that of Torkham and Chaman, while the interior minister has also issued notification for two more gates at Ghulam Khan and Mohmand Agency. Who will provide security at these gates? Massive trade activities between Pakistan, Afghanistan and even Central Asia will take place after opening of these gates. CPEC will also pass through FATA, so all these mega projects will require strict security measures and trained security forces.
TNN (from Faizullah Jan): Development process is underway in FATA, while you are opposing police culture and demanding separate province. If a separate province is created and you still resist arrival of police, then what will be its alternative?
Faizullah Jan: The people of FATA are capable of doing these things for themselves. Once FATA gets provincial status, we will handle the rest of matters smoothly.
TNN (from Farhad Afridi and Abdul Karim Mehsud): One tribal malik is supporting police culture in FATA, while the other is opposing the same. What will be your final comments about development and future of FATA?
Abdul Karim Mehsud: The FATA people should tread their path very carefully. They should not jump to conclusions. I believe that the scrapping of the FCR is more important than the rest of reforms process after which an autonomous legislative council should be given to the tribal people. Both the options of merger and separate province can be pondered from that point. Every process carried out without proper preparation will lead to chaos.
Farhad Afridi: I agree with Abdul Karim that we cannot afford abrupt merger with KP because it can be a dangerous experiment. No one will be able to resolve this problem if the experiment failed. We will have to see the transitional period and development projects during this period. The tribal people should step up and ensure maximum participation in development process.
This article has been taken from TNN programme Badloon which highlights political activities and reforms process in FATA. TNN producers Shan Muhammad and Salman Ahmed produced this programme which was broadcast from five radio stations of FATA and KP.
TNN correspondents Shah Khalid, Gul Muhammad Mohmand, Shah Nawaz Khan Afridi, Anwar Shah, Malik Azmat, Hikmat Shah, Nabi Jan Orakzai and Rizwan Mehsud contributed to this article.