PESHAWAR: The Pakhtun Think Tank has observed that nationalist and democratic forces in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were not given level playing field before and during July 25 general elections.

A statement, issued here on Sunday, said that the forum discussed contemporary issues and challenges in the region. It said that peace and security were the most fundamental rights of the citizens and necessary for quality of life.

Former home secretary Syed Akhtar Ali Shah chaired the meeting, which was also attended by a large numbers of academia, engineers, doctors, lawyers and people from other walks of life.

Forum suggests parties to conduct diagnostic analysis of poor performance

The statement said that the meeting deliberated upon the political, economic and social issues and challenges faced by Pakhtuns in the region as well as defeat of nationalist forces in the elections.

The forum said that rights were denied to Pakhtuns as they were subjected to the worst kind of violence during the last three decades. “Millions of dollars are being received as cost of war but hardly any expenditure was being incurred for in the economic and human development of the people of this region,” it said.

The statement said that Peshawar could be taken as a case study where no new college, health scheme, playground, cultural centre, housing scheme and industrial estate had been added.

“No plan to meet the social issues emanating from demographic changes of Peshawar and other urban centres is in place. This neglect has caused a sense of deprivation and has resulted in spontaneous movements,” said the statement.

The participants of the meeting said that due to extremist views and overplay of violent non-state actors, society had been radicalised. The role of those non-state actors had played havoc with social fabric of the society and rent it asunder.

They said that a new paradigm shift at policy level for peace in the region was required. They added that peace in the region was linked with restoration of peace in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The participants of the meeting said that among other fragmentation of nationalist forces, absence of clarity on national issues, weak organisational structure at the street level, challenge of dynamism and inaccessibility of leadership and failure of managing perception were important factors for the defeat in the elections.

They suggested the nationalist parties should conduct diagnostic analysis of the poor performance and come up with a new strategy.

They said that Pakistan was a federation consisted of different identities therefore the powers of the Senate should be enhanced in form of ratification of treaties and high profile appointments.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2018