PESHAWAR: A security analyst has disclosed that the Zarb-i-Azb military operation in North Waziristan Agency against militants has cost $1.9 billion.

Speaking at the ‘2nd National Conference on the Economic Currents and Opportunities for Economic Development in Fata’ at the University of Peshawar on Tuesday, Maria Saifuddin Effendi, who teaches at the National Defence University of Islamabad, said the Pakistan Army was able to recovered tons of explosives.

“Security forces shut down bomb factories and eliminated over 500 terrorists with an expenditure of $1.9 billion,” she said.

The analyst proposed that local people be involved rather than non-locals and foreigners to ensure the successful peace building in Fata.

Says security forces shut down bomb factories, eliminated over 500 militants

The Pakistan Army had stated that over 3,000 terrorists were killed in the offensive that was launched in June 2014.

The Cell for Fata Studies, University of Peshawar, arranged the event.

In the opening remarks, Vice-Chancellor of University of Peshawar Dr Mohammad Rasul Jan said Fata was a national issue, whose decision must be taken quickly to safeguard the well-being of local population and national interest.

He said peace in Pakistan was only possible if there was peace in its neighbours, especially Afghanistan.

Senior police officer Syed Akhtar Ali Shah in his presentation explained the impact of militancy on socio-economic dynamics of Fata.

He said it was high time to ‘open’ tribal areas.

The officer said security situation in Fata had deteriorated after 9/11 attacks.

He said during a survey, 60 per cent people of Fata had found to be insisting that their region was at peace before the Twin Towers terrorist attacks.

Mr. Shah said it had since become a central point for drug smuggling and illegal arms trade bringing billions of dollars to the region.

He recommended two-pronged strategy for the region: involve local people in development and give the maximum opportunities to locals and industries.

Dr Noor Shah Jehan, who teaches international relations at the University of Peshawar, spoke on the economic development in Fata from the perspective of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

He said the local Taliban had been used as a non-state actor by Pakistan for advancing foreign policy goals towards India-occupied Kashmir and Afghanistan.

Mr. Shah said inequalities in the region were in part due to the Dubai phenomenon, smuggling of goods and maintenance of the Malik system.

He suggested that policymakers move from geo-politics to geo-economics in Fata.

Another speaker, Naeem Tahir, said the Pakistan Army should carry out the rehabilitation and rebuilding of infrastructure in tribal areas.

The analyst said the Army was already in the area and that although the GDP and economic development was a priority, it should not be the only goal.

He said the merger of tribal areas with KP would be good for the integrity of the people of Fata and Pakistan.

Chairman of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication Dr Altafullah Khan gave presentation on the role of media in the building of Fata’s human image.

He said a major problem was that the people of Fata were not presented in the media as the people with problems, but instead, sensationalist headlines were churned out of the area.

Dr Altafullah said the media failed to provide specifics in its coverage of Fata and until and unless journalism got specific, clear indicators about what’s actually happening would remain missing.

He suggested that capacity of journalists be built to find data rich in details and offering solutions.

“The media should view Fata as part of the country and not an outsider,” he said.

Chairman of the Department of Management Sciences at GIK Swabi Dr Sabir Afridi, senior research economist Dr Mohammad Nasir and former chief secretary Khalid Aziz also spoke on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2017



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