Policemen desert Pakistan’s Malakand division in droves: Report

May 26th, 2009 - 3:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, May 26 (IANS) Large numbers of policemen have reportedly deserted Buner while over 40 percent are staying off duty in Swat after the situation deteriorated in Malakand division where the army is now battling the Taliban.
“Almost 75 percent desertion has been reported in Buner district police force,” The News International reported Tuesday.

Over 30 percent of the total strength of Malakand police have either quit jobs or policemen are not reporting to work for the past several months.

Not only the constabulary, but senior officers are also avoiding posting in Malakand for the past two years.

Of the 400 policemen in Buner, 310 have reportedly deserted the force, while 820 have quit jobs in Swat. The Swat police comprise of around 2,000 policemen, the report said.

Also, 175 have deserted from the 1,300 policemen in Lower Dir and over 70 out of 800 in Upper Dir districts.

Those who are not reporting to work despite repeated orders include over 100 members of the Elite Police Force (EPF) and four platoons, comprising around 136 individuals, of the Frontier Constabulary.

The EPF had refused to be deployed in Swat when they were tasked to improve the law and order situation there around four months back, saying they would prefer quitting jobs to posting in “the death zone”.

Once considered prized posting for senior police officers, Swat valley has lost attraction for the policemen. Most of them have made all-out efforts for many months to have their transfer to the volatile district cancelled, the report said.

“Twelve officers have been posted as DPO Swat during the past 21 months, out of which three cops even refused to assume the charge. The rest served for some weeks before getting a better posting in other parts of the province and country,” another source told The News.

The Pakistani military went into action against the Taliban April 26. The military assault took place after the Taliban violated a controversial peace accord with the NWFP government and moved south from their Swat headquarters to occupy Buner, which is just 100 km from Islamabad.

The operations had begun in Lower Dir, the home district of Taliban-backed radical cleric Sufi Mohammad, who had brokered the peace accord, and later spread to Buner and Swat.

The military says Lower Dir and Buner have been cleared of the Taliban and major successes are being achieved in Swat.

Swat, Buner, Lower Dir and four other districts of the NWFP are collectively known as the Malakand division, where, under the peace accord, Sharia laws were to be imposed in return for the Taliban laying down their arms.

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