My Editorial for Balochistan Times on 7th of May
Community policing is practiced worldwide and is one of the most effective mechanism of maintaining peace and order in the societies. In Balochistan Levies force was once one such force formed by the then Assistant to Governor General (AGG) Sir Robert Sandeman for maintaining law and order and having Sardars at the Taj’s side.
This Levies force was under control of the Sardars of various clans who would recruit them and pay them stipends which they would receive from AGG for maintaining law and order in the province. This strategy lessened the burden of the British Colonial machinery and the law and order was maintained by the Sardars; and, in case of failure, they were responsible to AGG. However, with the emergence of Pakistan, these forces were brought under the Home and Tribal Affairs Department and Balochistan’s rural and urban areas were divided into two groups for maintaining peace and order in the province. A areas were to be looked after by the Police while B areas were the jurisdiction of Levies working under district administration.
For long they had maintained law and order and their recruitment was also from the local communities and therefore, the people of Balochistan valued the institution. However, experiments were made by the then General Pervaiz Musharraf who converted all the B areas into the A areas through his devolution plan. However, with the disappearance of government, the commissionerate system was restored by people’s party government in 2009.
Of late, the merger of three districts Levies into police was announced by the provincial government which set ripples in the calm waters of Balochistan’s political landscape. Many statements and long speeches came from the opposition parties in favour of Levies and the proverbial role that has played in maintaining peace and order. Going between the lines of both the narratives, one finds that in opposition of each other, the opposing parties always stand at two extremes and never adopt a balanced way. Levies force, no doubt, is a community policing system but it has many shortcomings. It needs to be modernized on the modern day security needs as Balochistan is no more an isolated place but is the main focus of the world and subject to many forms of terrorism. Organisations that have global sectarian militant groups to the global militant groups ambitious of establishing a caliphate in the region have made Balochistan a battle ground for themselves and intelligence and training system of Levies is too weak cope up with the challenges. Moreover, the enemies of Pakistan have also established many terrorists in Pakistan who have repeatedly targetted the innocent civilians. In short, Balochistan has become a dangerous battleground for many actors and players and it needs a proactive policing system that is capable of dealing with all local, regional and global threats.
Nonetheless, the abolishment of any institution and merger of it with another institution with has already has a record of sick performance will do no good to the people of Balochistan. The real solution exists in strengthening the institution through modern weaponry, equipment, training and all other necessities that can make it a well trained force responsive to the modern day security challenges.