Pakistan’s police forces are so underfunded that new recruits are limited to 40 bullets on the firing range before they’re put on active duty, a quarter of what they need, reports USA Today. Even veteran cops often earn $200 a month – less than half as much as foot soldiers for the Taliban and other militant groups. The lack of money, poor morale, and a high desertion rate help explain why Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents have been able to gain strength and grab territory from Pakistan’s government, say experts.
President Obama, who will meet today with his Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, has cited improving Pakistan’s police as a top priority as security there deteriorates. A bill in Congress seeks to raise funding for Pakistan’s police to as much as $100 million a year, largely to create an elite anti-terrorism force. U.S.-sponsored police training programs have recently expanded from the tribal areas along the Afghan border to the entire North West Frontier province.