Khasadar refuses to provide security in anti-polio drive

Ahmad Nabi

LANDI KOTAL: Seven days anti-polio drive started without security as Khasadar and Levies as protest refused to provide protection to the polio workers here on Monday. The Khasadar and Levies forces personnel were on the view that until acceptance of their demands they would not provide security to the polio drive.

Khasadar line officer, Landi Kotal Swalzer Khan Afridi said that during the war of terrorism, the Khasadar and Levies had rendered countless sacrifices to safeguard their country but ironically all of their services were forgotten and after merging of Federally Administered Tribal Area (Fata) into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province they had left on the mercy of the God which was injustice to them. “We will neither provide security to the polio workers nor administer polio vaccine to our children”, Afridi remarked. On the condition of anonymity a polio supervisor in Landi Kotal confirmed that they were conducting anti-polio drive in the area with no security measures.

He maintained that although it was risky duty without security personnel but they were performing it on the direction of their highup as they had no other option. When the responsible ones of the polio campaign was contacted on their respective phone numbers, they did not answer it. On the other hand a protest set in, had initiated by Khasadar force at Bab-e-Khyber, Jamrud demanding acceptance of their 22 points demand list entered into 16 days on Monday. Deputy Commissioner Khyber Mehmood Aslam paid visit to protest camp and asked the security personnel to give-up their agitation however they Khasadar declined the request of the DC and told him that until the government would not accept their demand they would not end their protest.

Meanwhile with the purpose to curtain spread of polio virus from Afghanistan to Pakistan, the health department decided to administer anti-polio feed to every single person crossing into Pakistan via Torkham border. In this connection an opening ceremony of the scheme was held on Monday at Pak-Afghan sharing border, Torkham that was attended by health officials beside administration and forces officials.

Also, the Levies and Khassadar force personnel held a protest and boycotted the in progress polio vaccination campaign in the Prang Ghar, Charsadda here on Monday. Levies and Khassadar Force Chairman Subedar Major Dilawar Shah that the Levies and Khassadars not only boycott the security duties for polio vaccination, but will also not give polio drops to their own children if their demands were not accepted by the government. He said they will offer stiff resistance in case of deployment of police in the tribal districts.

Dilawar Shah is of the view that the government aims at bringing Khassadars and Levies under the police control without giving them the same perks and privileges, which is unacceptable. Sources said the polio vaccination campaign kicks off in the tribal today where the polio workers refused to fulfill their duties opted not to provide security to them. There are about 800 Levies and Khassadar personnel in the Prang Ghar who perform different security duties, including security for vaccination teams.

Participants of the sit-in say there are about 17,000 Khassadars and 9,000 Levies personnel in the tribal districts who will lose their jobs after deployment of police. They are also concerned over the fact that the KP government is not honoring the pledges made with them regarding their integration with police. They allege that the former inspector general of police Salahuddin Mehsud was transferred as he was favoring their genuine demands.