IG, FC Demands equality
According to South Punjab News, Maj Gen Nadeem told the Senate’s Standing Committee on the Interior that the force does not want to perform duties on the border along the lines of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) or Pakistan Customs.
During the briefing, Maj Gen Anjum revealed that the US had recalled seven helicopters earlier handed over to the force, leaving it with none now. He also pointed out that the FC’s maintenance budget had also been reduced by 97 percent.
Gen Nadeem’s demands seem logical considering the fact that the role of Frontier Corps (FC) have drastically changed. FC has been entrusted with numerous multifarious and multidimensional tasks in addition to its cardinal function.
However, despite the fact that the role of the force had changed altogether since the launch of a war against terrorism, the FC remained one of the less-paid force in the country. The former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ahmed, during the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) plan to lockdown Islamabad, promised to bring the FC salary at par with Pakistan Army; however, they have yet to get the promised pay raise.
A senior official wishing anonymity told Pakistan Today that hundreds of FC personnel embraced martyrdom in the line of duty, but unfortunately, their sacrifices never are recognized in a true sense.
He said that though the FC personnel were performing multiple duties since the advent of the war on terror that completely changed the force because additional duties assigned to FC; however instead of giving them extra perks and privileges, they are deprived of the allowances.
“Look at the duties honors of the FC personnel and the duty they are performing in challenging circumstances, the FC being paid the lowest paid force,” he rued.
Comparison of BPS of FC & Pakistan Army
It appears that knowingly, this issue has been brushed under the carpet by Pakistan on umpteen occasions. The IG, FC voicing the pay disparity and dissatisfaction amongst the lower ranks of FC is a clear indicator of low morale of FC troops who have been pushed beyond their capabilities.
As is seen below the disparity in pay-scales of FC pers vis-a-vis Pakistan Army is huge; Starting salary of Rs 6240/- against 10,610 respectively.
Ironically there is variation between salaries in different provinces also, as mentioned in the official website seen below.
Punjab seems to be the favored province for reasons known to all, while other provinces where law and order situation is volatile, struggle to get the requisite budget allotment for security needs. This anomaly further extends as the revision of BPS of both FC’s are independent of each other.
The Frontier Corps, a stepchild of the Pakistan army
The Frontier Corps, a stepchild of the army has to borrow most of its heavy weaponry, even as it increasingly finds itself on the front lines fighting Qaeda and Taliban operations that are increasingly destabilizing Pakistan.
Unlike the Punjabi-dominated army, the 90,000+ troops in the Frontier Corps are largely drawn from Pashtun tribesmen who know the language and culture of the tribal areas, making it the most suitable force to combat an insurgency there.
Sources reveal that besides maintaining law and order in the province, the FC is running nearly one hundred schools from its own salaries and free health care is provided to the people.
It is unfortunate that soldiers who are protecting and shielding the nation because of their love for their country are discriminated on the basis of their uniform.
In a restricted budget environment, with a very basic equipment profile and no perks & privileges, no access to other armed welfare schemes, the FC soldier is expected to operate in thick counter-insurgency areas and risk his life with almost no take home benefits.
On the other hand, Pakistan Army possesses billion dollar budget, state of the art equipment and has numerous welfare schemes for ex-servicemen and families of the martyrs. Details of the same published in various articles of Dawn, Pakistan Today etc.
The expanse of Pakistan’s ‘milibus’ as Ayesha Siddiqa calls it in her book Military Inc suggests the military controls 7 percent of the national GDP, controls one-third of heavy manufacturing, controls 6-7 percent of private sector assets and owns 12 million acres of land.
The deep entrenchment of military-run, and increasingly retired military man-run enterprise, in the economy, has continued to expand simply by disparaging civilians as incompetent and corrupt and insisting that the military alone promote national development. – Ayesha Siddiqa
A comparison with their counterparts in Pakistan Army who enjoy a handsome package which has twice been revised in 2010 & 2017 is truly unfair to the FC soldier. There is no denial that the son of the soil concept – FC, is exploited to the fullest by Pakistan Army, however, it has turned a blind eye when it comes to the welfare of FC soldiers who sacrifice their lives at the line of duty.
This step-motherly treatment meted to the FC soldier is once again raised by the present IG, FC. However, will deep-state cut out from its own budget to accommodate fellow brothers in the line of duty? Because in current trying times for Pakistan economy where it is burdened under huge debts and seeking donations there seems to be no light at the end for FC troops, unless Pakistan Army decides to cut out on their humungous budget and accommodate the rightful needs of their brothers in arm.
Also, it is important that Pakistan gives up the colonial legacy of appointing commanding officers from outside Frontier Corps cadres, as local tribesmen must also be given responsibility to lead their own forces and take requisite policy decisions for the welfare of their troops. Making the Corps directly accountable to democratic institutions will also add to the credibility of the institution in the eyes of the locals, especially in the case of Balochistan. The FC should not be deemed as an alternative to the local political authorities and law enforcement.
09 Nov 18/Tuesday Written by Afsana