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February 19, 2020

ANP-convened jirga asks govt to solve issues in merged districts

Peshawar

February 19, 2020

PESHAWAR: Asking the government to resolve issues confronting the people of the new merged districts, a jirga of opposition political parties on Tuesday threatened to launch protest movement if its demands were not accepted forthwith.

The Awami National Party (ANP)-convened jirga was held at the Bacha Khan Markaz, the headquarters of the party in Peshawar.

It was attended by Jamaat-e-Islami's provincial head Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F)’s Abdul Jalil Jan and Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM)’s Ali Wazir and Mir Kalam Wazir and others. Several workers of various political parties from the merged districts also attended the jirga.

The jirga asked the government to forthwith release Rs100 billion, which was announced for the development of the merged districts at the time of the 25th amendment to the Constitution in 2018.

The jirga criticised the government for failing to hold the local government election in merged districts within 90 days of the amendment. It demanded that the government should hold election in these districts and rest of the province without any delay.

The jirga resolved that the development projects and administrative affairs in the merged districts should be handed over to the civil administration and elected representatives. It asked the government to honour the commitment of 10-years tax exemption and recruitment of 22,000 Khassadar force personnel. Expressing concern over the three percent literacy rate in the former tribal areas, the jirga urged the government to open educational institutions for females and also establish university in each district. The jirga also discussed the trust deficit between Pakistan and Afghanistan and the prevailing lawlessness affecting Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in general and merged districts in particular. The jirga members asked the government to take steps for economic stability of these districts by opening trade routes with Afghanistan.

“The government should honour the agreement made after the survey for rehabilitation of these districts and compensating the owners of destroyed houses,” the jirga demanded. It asked the government to present the complete details of missing persons to the courts and unblock the national identity cards.

It also asked the government to address the reservations of the people of the merged district regarding the last census and restore the column of Pakhtun/Afghan nationality in the census forms.

“The government should take concrete steps for restoring law and order and not to differentiate between good and bad militants. It should take steps for de-mining of these districts,” the jirga demanded.

It unanimously decided to use legal and other options to ensure the rights of the people of the merged districts over their natural resources. The jirga asked the government to stop harassment of the political workers in these areas, restore mobile phone services and abolish unnecessary roadside checkposts.

The jirga demanded rehabilitation of Bara Industrial Zone, opening of more industrial zones in the merged districts and digitalization of land record.

It demanded restoration of Higher Education Commission scholarship for students of the erstwhile Fata, implementing the reserved seats quota in medical and engineering colleges and halting discrimination against Pashtun students across the country.

It also sought steps for the return and rehabilitation of the displaced families with dignity and accountability of the amount of 24 billion dollars provided to Pakistan under the Kerry Lugar Bill and Coalition Support Fund. It termed the constitution of the committee for net hydel profit as unconstitutional as the profit had already been acknowledged and decided in accordance of the AGN Kazi formula. The jirga asked the government to stop occupying the land of the people of the merged districts by wrongly interpreting the Article 172 of the Constitution.

The jirga members resolved to oppose a new proxy war on the Pakhtun land and said that the points raised by the jirga is a road-map for the government and institutions. The jiga warned that a protest movement would be launched if the demands were not met.