Pakistani province to arm 30,000 civilian crime busters

February 23rd, 2009 - 5:40 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanIslamabad, Feb 23 (IANS) After buying peace with the Taliban by agreeing to impose Shariat laws in seven districts, the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) government is to arm 30,000 civilians to create village defence committees (VDCs) and also establish an elite police force (EPF) to take on criminal gangs operating in the province.
Station house officers (SHOs) across the province would recommend the names of civilians for the VDCs and the selected individuals would be given rifles after scrutiny by a committee headed by the respective district coordination officers.

“After going through a thorough process, the government will provide rifles and permits to 30,000 members of the VDCs to counter criminal gangs in the area with the help of the public,” The News said Monday, quoting an official.

The official said NWFP Chief Minister Haider Hoti had directed officials to take maximum care in choosing members of the VDCs to block criminals. This apart, the arms would be taken back in case volunteers failed to help the police in countering terrorism and crime.

It was not immediately clear whether the VDCs would be a part of the special police officers (SPOs), a force of civilians recently raised in all the districts, or would function independently.

The government has also formally approved the establishment of the EPF by creating 2,657 vacancies. The force has already been launched and over 1,000 police commandoes have been assigned duties even before the force was formally created.

More than 1,200 commandos have passed out from the Punjab Regimental Centre in Mardan while another 521 have been trained in Karachi recently. The remaining will pass out in June.

The commandos “would be deputed in various towns of the Frontier to cope with the extraordinary law and order situation”, The News said.

Some 600 EPF commandos had refused to be posted in the turbulent Swat Valley when they were given their first assignment last month.

The NWFP government had Feb 16 signed a deal with radical cleric Sufi Mohammad on imposing Shariat laws in seven districts, including Swat. He subsequently held talks with his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah, who heads the local Taliban in the area and the militants subsequently declared a permanent truce.

The NWFP government has also increased the compensation paid for policemen killed or injured while on duty.

In the case of death, the family of a policeman would get Rs.1 million. Seriously injured policemen would get Rs.500,000 and those with minor injuries would be given Rs.100,000.

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