Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Monday fulfilled a long standing demand of the National Highway and Motorway Police (NH&MP) for payment of Risk Allowance, approved by the government in 2009. Addressing the 14th annual award ceremony of National Highways and Motorway Police, the Prime Minister announced that the Allowance equivalent to one basic salary be paid, with immediate effect. Former Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani had ordered the payment of allowance in 2009, however it was pending for years and forced many a capable officers and jawans leave the force as its salaries did not rise at par with the regular police.

Prime Minister Ashraf also directed the Capital Development Authority to allocate land for construction of Police Lines and said the government would also consider the demand for increase in strength of the force, owing to expansion of its area of coverage.

Minister for Communication Dr Arbab Alamgir Khan, who strongly pleaded the case for the payment, keeping in view the quality of services, said the NH&MP did not get the 50 per cent increase in the salaries and were in fact now lower than the regular police.

Prime Minister Ashraf urged the NH&MP to work diligently and maintain the same respect and dignity it has earned over the years with the masses.

“Any force should be proud to have earned the respect of the people of Pakistan,” he said.

The Prime Minister who earlier handed over certificates and medals amongst the officers and jawans of the force for their outstanding performance said the government believes that good governance in public service can only be maintained by upholding the principle of merit and providing a level-playing field to everyone.

The Prime Minister said the principle of merit had to be adhered to, both for induction and placement of officials.

The Prime Minister stressed that delivery of services could only be improved through a merit-based, transparent system.

He called for educating the public on road safety and traffic rules and added that a good number of accidents could be prevented and precious lives saved through effective public awareness campaign.

He said media has a crucial role to play in sensitizing the public about observing traffic laws and rules on the roads.

“We need to understand that discipline on the roads reflects overall conduct and civilized behavior of a nation.”

He said some progress has been made yet still there was a long way to go.

He appreciated that the rule of law practiced by this force was bearing results, and there has been a decrease in accident rates, traffic violations and serious crimes on highways.

Prime Minister Ashraf appreciated the efforts of the NH&MP to check overloading on the roads as it often leads to serious accidents, while also causing serious damage to the road infrastructure.

He said there was a need to take strict action against those who put people’s lives at stake and damage the roads that are a national asset.

Prime Minister Ashraf said the National Highways & Motorway Police was one of the institutions in the country that has won laurels for its work both nationally and internationally and added that its achievements were a matter of pride for the entire nation.

The Prime Minister appreciated the services of past leadership and members of the force and said despite the fact that enforcement of law was an unpleasant task, yet the Motorway Police has converted this challenge into an opportunity۔

“The uniform application of law without any discrimination, good manners and respectful behavior towards commuters by the personnel of National Highways and Motorway Police has provided it the moral high ground essential for compliance and making this force what it is today,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the government was committed to provide safety and security on highways to the people and said the National Highways and Motorway Police was doing a commendable job in ensuring public safety with full zeal and fervor.

He expressed the hope that the performance of the Motorway Police would further improve with intensive training and modern technology.

The Prime Minister also acknowledged the sacrifices of those who laid down their lives in the line of duty.

“Their sacrifices have only strengthened our resolve to fight crime and terrorism. I would particularly appreciate the initiative taken by this force for counter terrorism.”

He said terrorism poses a challenge that requires awareness and preparedness from all sections of society and said the law enforcement agencies have the greatest responsibility in this respect.

“I want to make it clear that the law enforcement agencies and the people of Pakistan will not waver to secure the future of our children.”

“We will not allow any one to silence the soul of the nation and stand united to safeguard our values, traditions, culture and our way of life,” the Prime Minister said.

He also noted that the NH&MP was expanding its coverage to other national roads like the RCD highway, Sukkur-Jaccobabad-Quetta road, Hassanabdal-Mansehra Expressway, Lyari Expressway and M-4 Faisalabad-Khanewal and expressed the hope that the Motorway Police will live up to the challenge.

The Prime Minister also congratulated the Minister for Communications; Secretary Communications; IG NH∓ and the officers and ranks of the force for their commendable performance and all-round teamwork.

He said as the Chief Executive of the government, empowering Motorway Police even further has been his priority. He extended appreciation to the entire force for maintaining a conducive culture for such an achievement.

Minister for Communications Dr Arbab Alamgir said the force had earned the respect of the masses by maintaining high standards and said it was performing its duties with a small force of 5500, including 2900 uniformed officials on over 12000 kms of road network, that caters to 85 per cent of traffic.

He said a Road Safety Institute was being constructed by the NH&MP with a cost of Rs 100 million, while more Trauma Centres were being planned on Motorways and Highways.

He said Help Centres to facilitate the commuters would be setup to assist in every District.

Inspector General NH&MP Zafar Iqbal Lak said the force has sacrificed 34 officials while performing their duties. He said the shortage expansion in their area of coverage was stretching the personnel. However, he said that despite the problems the force had brought down the number of road accidents and has collected a fine of around Rs 1.9 billion in a year.

The event was also attended by Ministers for Information Qamar Zaman Kaira, Minister for Commerce Amin Faheem, Minister for Religious Affairs Khurshid Shah, Minister of State Communications Dost Mohammad Mazari and Chairman Pakistan Baitul Maal Zamurrad Khan.