Policing the Federally Administered Tribal Areas

Written By: Abbas Majeed Khan Marwat

Each agency in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is administered by a Political Agent (PA), who is either a member of the federally recruited Pakistan Administrative Service or the Provincial Management Service. The PA is responsible for the policing as well as administrative functions in FATA. The Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) coupled with Riwaj Act-2017 gives unprecedented powers to the office of the PA enabling him to perform his duties as the policeman, prosecutor and the judge simultaneously. It will not be out of place to say that FATA reforms and its subsequent merger with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will have ramifications, as the current criminal justice system in FATA is outdated and hence, ineffectual to tackle the growing challenges in this region. Therefore, the lacunas in the Criminal Justice System simply cannot be addressed by the FCR or Riwaj Act. It is pertinent to mention that the procedural, penal, local and special laws that are applicable in rest of Pakistan in general and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in particular are also outdated that also needs to be revisited. Thus, the criminal justice apparatus is obsolete in this modern era to cope with the growing local and regional challenges. A modern policing system needs to be complemented and supplemented by a robust criminal justice system. In a nutshell, the edifice of an effective policing system is pillared over a strong criminal justice system.

Reforms Pertaining to Policing in FATA
The FATA reforms enunciated that the Levies should be reorganized for performing policing function in the FATA. Furthermore, it was chalked out that the Levies performing in different agencies should have standardised basic training at the time of recruitment, while in-service and specialized training should be imparted with the assistance of Army, Frontier Corps and Police. The FATA reforms also stressed on the provision of arms and ammunition and surveillance devices to the Levies. The War on Terror and subsequent militancy has played havoc with the basic infrastructure of the Levies that is severely hindering the performance of the force. In addition to this, the reforms committee also suggested increasing the strength of the Levies by 20,000. It is quite evident from the recommendations of the reforms’ committee that they expressed their unanimous concern for revamping the Levies in the FATA. However, in order to aid the Levies, they also recommended to strengthen the border management system by creating more wings of the Frontier Corps.

Existing Security Apparatus in the FATA
The law and order in and around the FATA is managed by a number of security agencies. With the likely merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the stakeholders in this transition are going to be a number of security forces that include: Levies, Khasadars, Frontier Corps, Frontier Constabulary, Khyber Pakhtunkwa Police and Pakistan Army.

The security forces mentioned above may seem quite a lot to police the FATA, however it is not the case. The Levies and Khasadars lack proper training that is required by a modern police force. Furthermore, the only cohesive forces performing security duties in the FATA are the Frontier Corps and Pakistan Army. The Frontier Corps Khyber Pakhtunkwa is an 80,000 men strong force. The Frontier Corps draws its senior hierarchy from the Pakistan Army and is tasked with securing the area between international border and the FATA. However, at the moment the major security duties in the FATA are performed by the Frontier Corps along with Pakistan Army. Conversely, the under-utilized force is the Frontier Constabulary. The Frontier Constabulary is a federal paramilitary police force that was created by amalgamating Border Military Police (BMP) and Samana Rifles (SR) in 1913. The senior hierarchy for the Frontier Constabulary is drawn from the Police Service of Pakistan. The recruitment in the Frontier Constabulary as well as Frontier Corps is made on the basis of tribes in FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The mandate of the Frontier Constabulary is to police the area between FATA and settled areas. However, at the moment the 26,000 men strong Frontier Constabulary is tasked with VVIP duties and at times threatened with disbandment.

Likely Scenarios in Case of a Merger
It is pertinent to mention that a similar scenario had also emerged in Balochistan where the province was divided into A and B areas. The “A” areas were manned by the Police and the “B” areas were manned by the Levies that were later merged into Balochistan Police. The Levies personnel were not trained at par with the policemen that resulted in a vacuum. Resultantly, the law and order situation deteriorated. Likewise, in order to curb the militancy in Malakand, Special Police Officers (SPOs) were recruited. The SPOs lacked proper training and as a result it did not yield fruitful results, since the recruitment process was hastily carried out. The help of Pakistan Army could only clear out the area. Though, there was a patch when paramilitary style policing was in vogue due to surge in militancy. However, due to different operations by the Army, the backbone of such terrorist organisations has been broken. Resultantly, a change from paramilitary style to community policing is required. By the same analogy, it can be said that leaving policing affairs to the Levies in FATA will be detrimental to the administration in the long term. Policing is a specialised area that can be best performed by police officers trained for the purpose.

Conclusion and Recommendations
The people of FATA have suffered for long and it is high time that they are given their due rights guaranteed by the constitution of Pakistan. It is imperative that, since it is proposed to be merged into the Khyber Pakhtunkwa, therefore a similar policing system must be in place that is supervised by police officers at the levels of a beat, police station, sub division and a district. Similarly, the police is divided into watch and ward and investigation. There must be a separate prosecution branch at the district level. Above all, there must be a district judge who is totally separated from executive functions to try the cases. There must be separation of executive functions from judicial functions if the criminal justice system has to function efficiently. It is only after these steps that a robust policing system can be implemented in FATA.


The writer is a member of the Police Service of Pakistan and currently serving as Senior Superintendent of Police in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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