Balochistan notifies Levies-police merger

 19 May 2019

QUETTA: The Balochistan government has formally merged the Levies force with the police department in three districts of the province despite opposition’s misgivings.

It was announced through a notification on Saturday.

The official notification issued by the Home and Tribal Affairs department states, it was “pleased to declare the revenue limits of districts of Quetta, Lasbela and Gwadar as “A-Area” with the meaning of aforesaid sections, for the purpose of territorial jurisdiction of Balochistan police with immediate effect and until further orders”.

The Balochistan cabinet had made the decision last month in view of the security situation in these three districts, especially in Gwadar where China was implementing development projects initiated under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Measure comes in order to provide security to CPEC projects

The opposition parties in Balochistan had rejected the provincial cabinet’s decision articulated their views in a press conference in early May. Former chief minister Aslam Khan Raisani said that Levies force had been performing well in the rural areas and the decision to merge it with the police would not be favourable for the federation. Sana Baloch of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal and Nasarullah Zerey of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party also opposed the merger.

This is the second time the Levies force has been merged with the police department in Balochistan. Previously in 2005 under the Police Ordinance, 2002, the entire province was converted into A-Area and the Levies force was merged into the police department. The federal government back then had provided Rs8 billion for the conversion of B-Area into A-Area in Balochistan.

In 2008 the Levies force was restored as a separate entity from the police during Raisani’s tenure.

Mir Liaquat Ali Shahwani, spokesman for the Balochistan government, defended the decision, saying it was the right of the government to take such decisions in the larger interests of the province. “Levies merger with police was taken in view of the security situation,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2019