Authorities in Pakistan’s violence-plagued North West Frontier Province boosted police salaries by about 30 per cent on Tuesday in recognition of the danger they face from an intensifying Taliban insurgency.
Violence has surged across Pakistan since 2007, especially in the country’s northwest, raising fears that the nuclear-armed US ally, whose cooperation is vital to efforts to stabilise Afghanistan, could become a failed state.
The police in particular, are seen as vital to efforts to stand up to the spread of the Taliban but hundreds of them, as well as paramilitary and army soldiers, have been killed in militant attacks and clashes.
“Their salaries are very low in view of the great risk my boys are facing and the casualties they are suffering,” provincial police chief Malik Naveed Khan told Reuters. “We lost 180 policemen last year, the wounded were in the hundreds.”
“This is in recognition of their valiant performance against terror ... it will improve their morale,” he said of the raise.
A police constable who has been getting about 11,000 rupees ($135) a month will now earn about 16,000 rupees ($200), another police official said.
The government of Punjab, Pakistan’s biggest province which has also seen rising militant violence and the spread of Taliban influence, boosted police salaries last week.
Militants attacked a police training centre on the outskirts of Lahore, Punjab’s capital, last month, killing eight recruits. Provincial governments are responsible for their police forces.
As in neighbouring Afghanistan, police are seen as vital in efforts to fight the Taliban, taking charge of an area and winning the trust of its inhabitants after the army has cleared insurgents out.
Pakistan’s allies and aid donors, alarmed about deteriorating security, promised more than $5 billion in fresh aid over two years at a conference in Tokyo on Friday after President Asif Ali Zardari vowed to step up the fight against militants.
Most of that aid is earmarked for social sectors such as health and education but the United States and other allies are also helping with training and equipment for the security forces.