PESHAWAR, Pakistan Sept. 16 (News Lens Pakistan) -- Mohammad Sharif has found himself overwhelmed in the past few months, since his son was gunned down in May by terrorists on his way to work at a police station.
Not only has the 70-year-old Sharif been caring for his son's two wives and eight children, he is struggling to get authorities to provide the $29,500 in compensation promised to families of police officers killed in terrorist attacks. So far, he has received nothing.
"Before Ramadan, I would go to visit the police and the courts to pursue the compensation package, but with fasting and the state of my health, the long process tires me out," Sharif said. "These days, I stay back home, waiting to hear from the authorities."
Sharif's son, Mohammad Shakirullah, was among more than 1,200 police officers killed in bomb attacks or gunned down by terrorists since 2006 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, according to police figures.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial police department declared Aug. 4 Martyr's Day to honor officers killed in the line of duty. The date is the anniversary of the death of Safwat Ghayur, a senior police officer and a leading figure in Pakistan's fight against terrorism who was killed in a suicide attack in 2010.
Authorities have intensified recruiting in the last five years to strengthen the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police force, which has increased from 41,000 to more than 63,000, said Deputy Inspector General Police Muhammad Ali Babkhel.
Salaries have been doubled and a compensation policy is in place that has been raised since 2009 with the rise in police fatalities.
When police officers are killed, their families are eligible for financial assistance, along with a plot of land, free tuition for their children through high school, the slain officer's salary until he or she would have reached age 60 and the recruitment of one family member as a junior police officer.
Twenty-six officers have been killed so far in 2015 in terrorism-related incidents, according to police statistics, compared to 2014, when 33 were killed.
However, the families of only seven officers have received compensation.
It is even worse when it comes to the promise of jobs, with only 29 relatives of 228 officers killed since 2007 getting jobs, according to police statistics. No relative of an officer killed by terrorists was recruited under the program that is supposed to ensure children or next of kin get jobs as an assistant sub-inspector.
The Peshawar High Court on Jan. 15 told the provincial government to increase the quota of police department inspector seats reserved for children of slain officers, but that appears to have made little difference.
Mushtaq Khan, the brother of Imtiaz Khan, a bomb disposal expert killed by roadside bomb, said he, too, has waited a year for any compensation for his brother's four children and wife.
"My brother sacrificed his life in the line of duty, but the government deprives his children and widow of any assistance," Khan told News Lens, speaking his native Pushto.
Police officials acknowledge they have fallen short in providing jobs and compensation, but blame it on red tape and a lack of openings in the department.
"Only a couple of families of officers who fell victim to terrorist acts and targeted killings in 2014-15 have been provided cash compensation, while the rest have yet to get any compensation or jobs promised to the children or the next of kin of martyred policemen," a Peshawar police deputy superintendent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, told News Lens in Pushto.
Peshawar Police Chief Ijaz Ahmad told News Lens that the process was "a bit lengthy," adding that it was complicated by domestic disputes among families of the dead over who should get the assistance package.
"Most of the time it takes less than a month, however, due to cross verification from the provincial Finance Department, the process can get stretched," Ahmad said.
Due to the large number of police officers killed in terror incidents, Ahmad said it was impossible to offer next of kin jobs in the police department, since only a few positions were available at any given time. As a result, they are suggesting that relatives accept a junior, constable position.
"The police department does not have [enough] vacancies to match the large number of martyrs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police," Ahmad said. "However, we advise the children or brothers of martyred policemen to accept jobs as constables, and once the ASI posts become available, they will be promoted."
For Sharif, the wait goes on for compensation, a process that has caused hardship and discord within his family.
The family lives in a cramped, dingy apartment, and two of his eight grandchildren have been forced to quit their studies and become tailors because he cannot afford the school fees.
"I am an old man and not able to work in order to earn bread for my grandchildren," Sharif said. "However, after getting the announced compensation, I will be able to provide food and education to my grandchildren. The assistance will go a long way in ensuring a good future for them."