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PESHAWAR: The tribal elders belonging to different frontier regions have shown concerns about the future of Federally Administered Tribal Areas that were recently merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Addressing a news conference at Peshawar Press Club on Wednesday, the elders led by Dr Tariq Afridi of FR Kohat said that merger of Fata with the province was a demand of tribal people but the decision also created some suspicions in their mind that needed to be cleared.

Dr Tariq said that government just announced the merger but didn’t give any timeframe to materialise the plan. He said that the future of employees, ongoing schemes, fresh recruitments and developmental funds was also not clear.

Dr Tariq Afridi says Khasadar, Levies forces should be replaced with police

He said that government announced Rs100 billion package annually but there was no guarantee as to how the funds would be spent in real sense. “In the past, every government released billions of rupees for development of Fata but no one knows so far as to where these funds were spent,” he said.

Dr Tariq said that security affairs should be run through the personnel of Khasadar and Levies forces without introducing police in the tribal areas. He said that the local law enforcers rendered matchless sacrifices for restoration of peace and they should not be replaced with police.

He said that former federal government had already announced to recruit thousands of Levies personnel in all tribal regions but in the current situation it was not clear if the plan would remain intact or not. He advised the government against curtailing the powers of jirga system, saying it had a historical background and always played effective role in resolution of inter-tribe feuds. Through the jirga system, he said, people could get easy justice as compared to any other system.

Dr Tariq said that the dispute resolution councils, already active in KP, was also a kind of jirga that was helping people to resolve their petty disputes within the short span of time without hiring legal counsels.

He said that there was no mention about the administrative setup of various semi-tribal regions, creation of news tehsils and development works. He said that the entire Fata in general and frontier regions in particular suffered heavily owing to lawlessness so the facilities of education, healthcare and other essential infrastructure were next to nil there. He said that government didn’t present any concrete plan about future of the regions and improvement of those facilities.

Who will monitor the process to ensure spending of the funds in real sense if Fata Secretariat stops supervising the ongoing development schemes,” Dr Tariq questioned. He said only announcement of merger was not enough but government should unveil a complete plan to remove the doubts from the minds of people otherwise most of them would be not sure about protection of their future.

Other elders including Malik Hazrat Gul, Malik Daud, Malik Habibullah and Malik Gul Mohammad also shared their views about government’s uncertain policy regarding Fata-KP merger and its future plans.

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2018