Frontier Corps

Frontier Corps

The Frontier Corps (FC) is a federal paramilitary force recruited mostly by people from the tribal areas and officered by officers from the Pakistan Army. The FC Stationed in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan Province, are known as FC NWFP and FC Balochistan, respectively. Both distinct provincial groups are run traditionally by an "inspector general" who is a regular Pakistani Army officer of at least major-general rank, although the force itself is part of the Interior Ministry, not the army. [] Abbas, Hassan, "Transforming Pakistan's Frontier Corps", article in "Terrorism Monitor", Volume 5, Issue 6, a publication of the Jamestown Foundation, March 29, 2007, accessed November 7, 2007]

Strength and mission

With a total manpower of approximately 80,000, the task of these forces is to help local law enforcement in the maintenance of law and order when called upon to do so. Border patrol and anti-smuggling operations are also delegated to the FC. Lately, these forces have been increasingly used in military operations against insurgents in Balochistan and militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).


Half of the FC is based in tribal areas. The Corps is led by regular Pakistani military officers, who fill all senior command positions and serve for two to three years. The officers "often disdain the assignment", according to the "Los Angeles Times". [,0,6337979,print.story?coll=la-home-center] Miller, Greg, "U.S. military aid to Pakistan misses its Al Qaeda target", article in the "Los Angeles Times", November 5, 2007, accessed November 7, 2007] "At the soldiers' level [...] they take pride in their units' history", according to Hassan Abbas, an analyst and former subdivisional police chief in the Northwest Frontier Province, but they are seldom promoted to command positions, which are usually reserved for regular Pakistani officers. "Within army circles, few officers look forward to these assignments from their professional and career point of view." [] Hassan, Abbas, "Transforming Pakistan's Frontier Corps", article in "Terrorism Monitor", Volume 5, Issue 6, March 29, 2007, published by the Jamestown Foundation; accessed November 7, 2007]

"These guys are low-paid tribal people," according to Husain Haqqani, a former adviser to two Pakistani prime ministers and a teacher at Boston University as of early 2007. "Each tribe gets a quota. It gives them a handout. They are poorly trained. They've never really had to fight. So they are corruption-prone." [ [] Landay, Jonathan S., "Experts question U.S. strategy in Pakistan", article, McClatchy News Service, July 25, 2007, accessed November 7, [2007]

The Frontier Corps should not be confused with the Frontier Constabulary or the Frontier Force Regiment. The Frontier Constabulary, a federal paramilitary force which is largely drawn from the NWFP, but also operates in Punjab Province as well, has been gradually merged into FC NWFP since July 2002, whereas the Frontier Force Regiment is a unit of the Pakistani Army formed in 1956 from the amalgamation of three regiments: the Corps of Guides, the Frontier Force Regiment and the Pathan Regiment. [Dawn, March 7, 2002]

Northwest Frontier

The Frontier Corps in the Northwest Frontier Province (FC NWFP) is headquartered in Balahisar Fort in Peshawar and is led by Inspector General, Major General Tariq Khan. [Ismail Khan [ "Battle to be won or lost in Bajaur"] "Dawn", 21 September, 2008] The Scouts Training Academy, Mirali in North Waziristan Agency is the primary training institution. The vast majority of soldiers in FC NWFP are ethnic Pashtuns.


The inspector general of the Frontier Corps in Balochistan (headquartered in Quetta) is Major General Salim Nawaz. The organization is divided into 13 units.

In the mid-1970s, the Pakistani government used FC Balochistan to crush the insurgency in Balochistan. Unlike FC NWFP, FC Balochistan is only partly made up of troops from the region it patrols, and the force is unpopular among Baloch militants in the province, where some of the population views it as a group of outsiders who commit human rights violations and use too heavy a hand in operations.

To improve the corps image, it has been involved in construction of schools and hospitals, although as of late 2004, corps installations in the province were routinely attacked by insurgents [ [] Abbas, Hassan, "Transforming Pakistan's Frontier Corps", article in "Terrorism Monitor", Volume 5, Issue 6, a publication of the Jamestown Foundation, March 29, 2007, article cites "Pakistan Times", December 26, 2004; accessed November 7, 2007]

Inspectors-General of the Frontier Corps

After independence in 1947 Pakistani IGFC’s are:
# Brig Ahmad Jan, MBE (1950-51)
# Brig K A Rahim Khan (1951-53)
# Brig Bakhtiar Rana, MC (1953-55)
# Brig Sadiq Ullah Khan, M.C (1955-58)
# Brig Rakhman Gul, SQA, S, K, MC (1958-63)
# Brig Sadiq Ullah Khan, MC (1963-64)
# Brig Bahadur Sher, MC (1964-66)
# Brig Mahboob Khan, TQA (1966-69)
# Brig Mahmud Jan, SQA (1969-71)
# Maj-Gen Sherin Dil Khan Niazi (1971-72)
# Brig Iftikhar e Bashir (1972)
# Brig Naseerullah Babar, SJ & Bar (1972-74)
# Brig Ghulam Rabbani Khan, SBt (1974-78)
# Maj-Gen Agha Zulfiqar Ali Khan (1978-81)
# Maj-Gen Mian Muhammad Afzal (1982-84)
# Maj-Gen M. Arif Bangash, SBt (1984-86)
# Maj-Gen Mohammad Shafiq, SBt (1986-88)
# Maj-Gen Ghazi ud Din Rana, SBt (1988-90)
# Maj-Gen Humayun Khan Bangash, TBt (1990-91)
# Maj-Gen Muhammad Naeem Akbar Khan (1991-92)
# Maj-Gen Mumtaz Gul, TBt (1992-94)
# Maj-Gen Fazal Ghafoor, SBt (1994-97)
# Maj-Gen Sultan Habib (1997-2000)
# Maj-Gen Tajul Haq (2000-03)
# Maj-Gen Hamid Khan (2003-04)
# Maj-Gen Tariq Masood (2004-06)
# Maj-Gen Alam Khattak, TBt (2006-September 2008)
# Maj-Gen Tariq Khan (September 2008-present)

Note that Brig (later Lt-Gen) Bakhtiar Rana (1953-55) and Maj-Gen Ghazi ud Rana (1988-90) were the only father and son to have served as IGFCs.


The Frontier Corps was created by Lord Curzon, the viceroy of British India, in 1907 as a way of organizing and combining these seven different militias and scouts units in the tribal areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border (years each were founded in parentheses): the Khyber Rifles (1878), the Zhob Militia (1883), the Kurram Militia (1892), the Tochi Scouts (1894), the Chagai Militia (1896), the South Waziristan Scouts (1900) and the Chitral Scouts (1903).

A British officer of the rank of a lieutenant colonel was designated as the inspecting officer until 1943 when the corps was expanded and the commander was given the title inspector general (equal in rank to a brigadier. The Second Mahsud Scouts (1944) and the Pishin Scouts (1946), were then added to the Frontier Corps as well. [ [] Hassan, Abbas, "Transforming Pakistan's Frontier Corps", article in "Terrorism Monitor", Volume 5, Issue 6, March 29, 2007, published by the Jamestown Foundation; article cites [ Khyber Gateway Web site] ; accessed November 7, 2007]

After independence in 1947, Pakistan expanded the force further by creating many new units, including Thall Scouts (1948), Northern Scouts (1949), Bajaur Scouts (1961), Karakoram Scouts (1964), Kalat Scouts (1965), Dir Scouts (1970) and Kohistan Scouts (1977). British officers continued to serve in the FC up to the early 1950s. The government split up the force into the NWFP and Balochistan units, with FC Balochistan responsible for the Zhob Militia, Sibi Scouts, Kalat Scouts, Mekran Militia, Kharan Rifles, Pishin Scouts, Chaghai Militia and First Mahsud Scouts.

In the late 1990s, the Frontier Corps played an important role in eliminating opium poppy cultivation from Dir district of the North-West Frontier Province, according to a UN advisor who served in the district at the time. [ [] Hassan, Abbas, "Transforming Pakistan's Frontier Corps", article in "Terrorism Monitor", Volume 5, Issue 6, March 29, 2007, published by the Jamestown Foundation; article references "Asian Affairs", November 2000, accessed November 7, 2007]

The FP originally was formed under British rule before Pakistan's independence. its traditional role has been to guard the border and curb smuggling.

In 2007, after truce agreements between the Pakistani government and local militants had collapsed, the Frontier Corps, teamed with regular Pakistani military units, conducted incursions into tribal areas controlled by the militants. "The effort produced a series of bloody and clumsy confrontations", according to the "Los Angeles Times". On August 30, about 250 Pakistani troops, most from the Frontier Corps, surrendered to militants without a fight. In early November, most were released in exchange for 25 militants held by the Pakistani army.

Equipment and training

As of late 2007, the force "remains underfunded, poorly trained and overwhelmingly outgunned" in relation to Islamist militants, according to an article in the "Los Angeles Times".

The FP is often equipped with not much more than "sandals and bolt-action rifles", an anonymous senior Western military official told the "Times" in late 2007. This compares with Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters equipped with grenade launchers and assault rifles. The FC lacks night-vision equipment, ground transport (forcing many to travel by foot), and is usually outfitted with castoff equipment from the regular army. The Frontier Corps has almost no air power, and if the force had two helicopters actually running "it was a good day", an anonymous senior Western diplomat told the "Times" in late 2007. The U.S. government had budgeted $55 million in 2007 to provide the corps with night-vision equipment and communications gear.

The force is "woefully unschooled" in counterinsurgency tactics, anonymous military observers told the "Times". They said it would take years of equipping and training the force before it could effectively battle Al Qaeda.

United States government support

As of late 2007, Pakistan officials indicated the government will expand the corps to 100,000 and use it more in fighting Islamist militants, particularly Al Qaeda, as the United States government has urged it to do. The decision to upgrade the force came after extensive consultations between the governments and an agreement to start a multi-year effort to bolster it. The governments planned to establish a training center on counterinsurgency tactics.

According to a "Los Angeles Times" news article, there is a "widespread" consensus among United States government military and intelligence experts views the Frontier Corps as the best potential military units against the Islamist militants because its troops are locally recruited, know local languages and understand local cultures. According to a minority view within the U.S. government, the loyalties of Corps members is divided, since recruits come mainly from Pashtun tribes with traditional mistrust of outsiders. Although most recruits are loyal, many have a degree of sympathy with militants. According to this view, training and equipping the force could result in some strengthening of the militants.

"Religious extremism oozing out of the Saudi-funded madrassas and regional politics naturally influenced Corps personnel", according to Hassan Abbas, an analyst.

According to a "Boston Globe" report in March 2007, "U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan have reported observing some Corps members allowing Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters to cross the border at will and even welcoming them to rest at Corps guard posts. The Corps has also fired occasionally on the U.S.-assisted Afghan Army." [] Stockman, Farah, "Pakistan aid plan facing resistance / $300m requested for paramilitaries", news article, "Boston Globe", July 22, 2007, accessed November 7, 2007]

Although the United States provided more than $7 billion (U.S.) in military aid to Pakistan in the five years through 2007, Pakistan used hardly any of the money to equip the FC, even though it is in the frontline of the fight against the Islamist insurgents that constitute the challenge the aid was supposed to counter. (The U.S., "reluctant to offend a crucial ally", placed few conditions on the aid, according to a "Los Angeles Times" article, although until 2007, the U.S. Congress placed severe restrictions on aid to organizations outside regular military commands of foreign nations, according to the "Boston Globe".)

Militias and Scouts

The Militias and Scouts of the Frontier Corps are

#Chitral Scouts
#Khyber Rifles
#Kurram Militia
#South Waziristan Scouts
#Tochi Scouts
#Mahsud Scouts
#Mohmand Rifles
#Shawal Rifles
#Swat Scouts
#Orakzai Scouts
#Khushal Khan Scouts
#Dir Scouts
#Bajur Scouts
#Thal ScoutsBalochistan
#Zhob Militia
#Chaghai Militia
#Sibi Scouts
#Kalat Scouts
#Makran Militia
#Kharan Rifles
#Pishin Scouts
#Maiwind Rifles
#Ghazaband Scouts
#Bambore Rifles
#Loralai Scouts
#Bolan Scouts
#Awaran Militia
#Panjgoor Rifles
#RIF (Rapid Interdiction Force)

See also

*Naseerullah Babar
* War in Waziristan


External links

* [ Frontier Corps]
* [ Transforming Pakistan's Frontier Corps By Hassan Abbas]

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