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PESHAWAR: Speakers at a daylong consultative meeting here on Wednesday demanded immediate holding of the provincial and local government elections in the new tribal districts and also swift transfer of the funds allocated for the development of formerly Fata under the NFC Award to foster peace and prosperity in the region.

It was organised by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) under the title of ‘mainstreaming (erstwhile) Fata, the way forward post-merger with KP’.

The speakers pointed out that Rs100 billion allocated under NFC Award for hitherto Fata would be critical to not only address the disgruntled tribal people’s grievances, but also to foster socio-political and economic development and, last but not the least, the capital formation in the region.

On the occasion, former MNA and PML-N representative Shahabuddin Khan Salarzai said the allocation augured well for better education and health facilities in the region. “The tribal people should also give up old ways of thinking and backward traditions and adapt to the perspectives of modern age such as harmony and peace,” he suggested.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s parliamentarians Sajid Momand and Iqbal Afridi said their party would take steps for the repealing of the new Fata Interim Governance Regulation as it was completely in contrast to the democratic ideals enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan.

Recognising the services and sacrifices of Khasadar force for peace in the region, the speakers suggested that instead of laying off the cadre, it should be merged into the Levies force given the economic reliance of thousands of families on the employment opportunities offered by the force. They called for application and implementation of the Constitution of Pakistan to the tribal district in letter and spirit.

Senior journalist and analyst Dr Ashraf Ali termed the consultation a timely intervention to discuss the way forward for formerly Fata after its merger with KP. He said both the media and civil society should also play their role in bringing the tribesmen, particularly women, on a par with the rest of the country.

They said that both the PPP and PML-N had done their part in mainstreaming the tribal districts and now it was PTI turn to make its contributions for speedy development in the region.

Speaking at the seminar, CRSS executive director Imtiaz Gul said tribal youth needed opportunities for active and effective participation in the democratic processes and national socio-political life.

Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2018