A trust with close links to the Pakistan Army is recruiting hundreds of former soldiers to serve in the Bahrain National Guard at a time when the Arab nation is experiencing widespread protests against its ruling family, a media report said.
Advertisements in an Urdu daily and on the website of the Overseas Employment Services of Fauji Foundation stated that the Bahrain National Guard immediately requires people with experience and qualifications as anti-riot instructors and security guards.
An official of Fauji Foundation said there were 800 vacancies and 6,000 to 7,000 applications had been received while another official at the OES said there were 200 to 300 vacancies and a number of people had been selected, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.
Media reports have quoted Bahraini opposition activists as saying that up to half of Bahrain's approximately 20,000-strong national security apparatus is made up of Sunnis from Pakistan, Jordan and Yemen.
Pakistanis serving in Bahrain's security forces were reportedly involved in a crackdown on protestors in Manama in February in which seven people were killed and hundreds injured. Some injured protestors told the media that the police who beat them up spoke Urdu.
The Fauji Foundation, set up in 1954, serves as a trust for ex-servicemen and their families. It is believed to be among the largest industrial conglomerates in Pakistan.
The advertisement stated that a Bahrain National Guard is visiting Pakistan during March 7-14 to recruit people from the following categories: officers (majors), Pakistan Military Academy drill instructors, anti-riot instructors, security guards, military police, cooks and mess waiters.
Civilians are required as security guards while the other categories require experience in the military or security forces.
The requirement for anti-riot instructors was for non- commissioned officers from the paramilitary Pakistan Rangers or officers of an equivalent rank from the Elite Police Force.
The OES official said Bahrain's army had recently recruited former Pakistani soldiers. In December, the OES advertised positions for retired Pakistan Army doctors to serve in the King’s Guard.
Maryam al-Khawaja, head of the foreign relations office at the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, said most of the Pakistanis serving in Bahrain's anti-riot police are Baloch.
Recruiting security personnel from countries like Pakistan and moves to naturalise them is viewed by the opposition in Bahrain as a way to increase the Sunni demographic. Bahrain's 70 per cent population is Shia.
Thousands protested in Manama earlier this week against any move to give citizenship to Sunnis serving in Bahrain's military.