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March 20, 2019

Mega uplift plan prepared for tribal districts, KP Assembly assured


March 20, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly was informed Tuesday that a mega development plan was being prepared for the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) as Prime Minister Imran Khan would ensure the allocation of three percent share for the merged tribal districts in the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award at all cost.

Taking part in the debate on rehabilitation of destroyed infrastructure in the former Fata, Information Minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai said the government was committed to bringing the newly merged districts on a par with other parts of the country.

He said the prime minister would fulfill his commitment of getting three percent share for the development of these districts in the NFC Award.

“The tribal people have suffered a lot during the last two decades and they will be compensated,” he assured.

The minister said the government was trying to remove the trust deficit with Afghanistan and enhance trade relations with it.Shaukat Yousafzai said the provincial cabinet had approved acquiring 2,000 kanals of land for the establishment of a university in North Waziristan. He added the cabinet also approved the allocation of Rs1.5 billion for youth employment scheme in the tribal districts and the amount would be enhanced to Rs2.5 billion with the passage of time. He said the purchase of life-saving drugs was also approved to ensure availability of medicines at the health centres in the tribal districts. Initiating the debate earlier, opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani said the merger of Fata was done in haste and its consequences were being witnessed.

“The commitment of phase-wise merger in five years was not fulfilled and now there seems to be no progress on reforms in the erstwhile Fata. For how long civil courts for tribal districts would function in other districts?” he questioned. He asked when will the district police officers be appointed in these districts and what would be the future of the Khassadar and Levies force.

Akram Durrani, who is former chief minister, questioned wherefrom the government would arrange Rs100 billion annually for these areas if the provinces did not agree to give erstwhile Fata the three percent share in the NFC Award.

He sought explanation on job quota for youth from tribal districts and resolution of the land disputes in the absence of the patwar system there.

Akram Durrani said business and agriculture sectors had been destroyed and tribal people were displaced and in need of early rehabilitation.

He said the people from the tribal districts needed licenced arms for their protection as the authorities had collected all kinds of weapons from them.

Awami National Party (ANP) parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak said the merger of former Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was a good decision as these areas had been ignored for the last 70 years, the black law of Frontier Crimes Regulation was imposed upon them and terrorists from the entire world were hiding there.

“Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced from the tribal areas due to militancy, 19,000 shops were destroyed in Mir Ali and Miranshah alone, schools were demolished or occupied by the security forces, national identity cards of a large number of tribal people were blocked and the displaced people were still homeless,” he added.

The ANP leader said the prime minister should include construction of homes for tribal people in his plan of building five million houses in the country. “The proposed three percent share in NFC Award for tribal districts should be ensured and mobile phone and internet service restored there immediately,” he stated.

Sardar Hussain Babak questioned how trade with Afghanistan could be improved if border crossings at Torkham and Ghulam Khan were closed. He said due to the closure of legal trade, smuggled goods worth millions of rupees are entering the country with the connivance of the officials concerned.

Inayatullah Khan of the Jamaat-e-Islami said the people of tribal areas were deprived of basic amenities despite their sacrifices for the motherland.

He said there was not a single university in the tribal districts while the number of schools and health units in the seven tribal districts is not equal to even the two districts of Upper Dir and Lower Dir.

The JI lawmaker said mother mortality rate in ex-Fata was very high and literacy rate was the lowest in Pakistan.

Inayatullah Khan, who hails from Upper Dir and has served as a minister in the past, said it was ironic that for 70 years our own areas were called ‘Ilaqa Ghair’ and terminologies like IDPs and TDPs were introduced for describing the displaced people.

He said the residents of tribal districts would be disappointed if reforms were not introduced there at the earliest.

Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), Shah Muhammad Khan Wazir of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Bahadur Khan of the ANP also sought early rehabilitation of the infrastructure and expedited development in the tribal districts.

They said these areas should be brought on a par with other parts of the country by ensuring improved health, education and communication facilities and delivery of timely and affordable justice.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) parliamentary leader Sher Azam Wazir, however, complained that the tribal people were not consulted on the issue of merger and the decision was taken in a hurry. Calling for visible reforms and improvement in the tribal districts, he warned that the tribal people could raise voice any time for a separate province if their sense of deprivation wasn’t addressed. He said the prime minister should visit all the tribal districts and announce and execute mega development projects there like late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who had visited Fata and announced Rs9.9 million development package for each tribal agency. “This was a huge amount at that time,” he pointed out.

The debate was going on when the speaker adjourned the session to meet again on Wednesday at 1:30 pm.

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