Saturday September 18, 2021

Convention for merged districts’ community mediators held

PESHAWAR: Helvetas Pakistan, a non-governmental organisation, organised a convention for community mediators of Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber and Kurram districts, with an aim to introduce political and administrative reforms in the newly-merged districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The NGO held the event under its project “Land and Water Diplomacy (LWD)”. Dr Arjumand Nizami, country director Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, said that the ‘Land and Water Diplomacy Project’ is funded by European Union and is being implemented with the support of Foundation for Rural Development (FRD).

European Union Representative and EU Councillor Counter-Terrorism Delegation to Pakistan, Francios Zablot, was also present.

In her welcome address, Dr Arjumand said that the political and administrative reforms have been introduced in the former tribal areas to provide access to the formal justice system, right to vote, provision of services and development in the area.

She said that the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Act of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been recently extended to the merged districts.

However, she added, the new system faces challenges as the area has been for long governed through a centuries-old system, which denied wider participation and democratic processes.

The communities, therefore, need external support to make a safe transition and be able to benefit from the new system and the authorities to implement the new system peacefully and successfully, she said.

Dr Arjumand said that the LWD project is addressing these issues by taking land and water diplomacy as a dynamic and evolving process for achieving peaceful, inclusive and sustainable cooperation between communities and regions.

The project is striving for social cohesion for peace and stability in tribal communities of four newly merged districts of KP through the engagement of local authorities and CSOs in confidence-building measures and dialogue for conflict mediation around land and water.

As a first step, around 80 potential mediators, including Jirga members, social activist, local leaders, youth and women members were identified for further capacity building on dispute resolution, disputes management approaches, process of ADR, phases of negotiation and preparation of action plan for resolution of land and water disputes.

On the occasion, Francios Zablot said that the EU is working in 140 countries including Pakistan to promote peace, security, freedom and women’s empowerment.

He said the former tribal region of Pakistan has suffered a lot due to Afghan war and still the incidents of target killing and attacks on security forces were being witnessed in the region. He said the EU aimed to promote an alternative dispute resolution system in the region for ensuring peace and development in the region.

Later the trained mediators expressed satisfaction over the training they got and said the initiative has helped in the resolution of years old disputes in their respective areas.

The demanded expanding scope of training and for involvement of more and more tribal people in the process for resolution of disputes over petty issues of water discharge and land ownership.