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LANDI KOTAL: Awami National Party provincial president Ameer Haider Khan Hoti has said that his party will take part in the protest in Islamabad on March 12 if federal cabinet fails to approve Fata reforms in its next meeting.

Addressing his party workers in Bar Qambarkhel area of Bara in Khyber Agency on Thursday, he said that tribesmen from Bajaur to Waziristan supported total repeal of Frontier Crimes Regulation and immediate merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Mr Hoti said that federal government never tried to own the soil and inhabitants of tribal areas and intentionally kept them deprived to serve its own interests. He added that it was time that people of Fata were given all their legal, constitutional and basic human rights.

“What is the difference between a tribesman and a Pakhtun from a settled district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and why are they kept separated from each other,” he questioned. He said that extremism in the country in general and Fata in particular could not be curbed as long as tribal people were kept under the existing oppressive administrative system.

The ANP leader criticised federal government for its failure to approve the recommendations of its own Fata reforms committee and said that the process was unnecessarily delayed on whimsical excuses.

He demanded of the government to pledge huge funds for development of tribal areas. He also urged the four provinces to allocate special funds for Fata so that the process of its integration with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa could not be delayed further for paucity of funds.

Mr Hoti said that ANP would establish a university in Khyber Agency if it came into power after the 2018 general elections.

He called upon the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan to work together for establishment of lasting peace in the region and defeating extremism in both the neighbouring countries.

Earlier, upon his arrival in Bara, the ANP leader was accorded a warm welcome by the local cadre of his party. The party workers and Khasadar Force had made strict security arrangements for the first ever public meeting of ANP provincial president in tribal areas.

Speaking on the occasion, ANP provincial senior vice president Imran Afridi accused security forces of unlawfully stopping his party supporters at different checkpoints in Bara to stop them from attending the public meeting.

ANP activists from Landi Kotal and Jamrud had also come in a large number to attend the public meeting and have a glimpse of their party leader. The members of Pakhtun Students Federation chanted slogans in support of their leader and also danced to the tunes of nationalist songs during the public meeting.

Meanwhile, Jamaat-i-Islami observed black day in Landi Kotal to register its protest against federal cabinet for its failure to approve Fata reforms package.

Holding black flags and banners, JI workers paraded Landi Kotal Bazaar and chanted slogans against federal government and JUI-F chief Mulana Fazlur Rehman for his opposition to merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

They threatened to stage a sit-in outside Governor’s House in Peshawar if Fata reforms were not approved by the federal cabinet.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2017