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PESHAWAR: Speakers at a conference urged the government to hold elections for provincial assembly seats in the erstwhile Fata at the earliest to put an end to sense of deprivation among the residents of tribal districts.

The conference titled “Post integration policy and governance strategies in erstwhile Fata: opportunities and issues” was organised by department of governance, politics and public policy at Abasyn University.

The conference was attended by parliamentarians, academia, representatives of youth and women forums, business community and media beside a large number of civil society members.

Speaking on the occasion, newly-elected PTI MNA from Khyber tribal district Iqbal Afridi said that government was determined to accelerate the merger process and start developmental activities in the war-torn region to bring it at par with other parts of the country. He added that their party would do its best to deliver on what it had committed.

PTI lawmaker says process of Fata-KP merger to be accelerated

Dr Ashraf Ali, a political analyst, urged the civil society to keep a vigilant eye on the implementation mechanism.

He asked the student and women forums, legal fraternity and other organisation to redefine their objectives, reshape their strategies and take up a broader role as a watchdog to monitor the implementation mechanism to identify gaps, loopholes and suggest practical recommendations on how to bridge those gaps.

Dr Raza Khan, the honorary head of department of governance, politics and public policy, said although merger of Fata with KP was finalised legally but integrating the entire region with the province created and would continue to create a lot of opportunities as well as numerous challenges.

He said that comprehensive plans and governance strategies for various sectors were needed to take advantage of the opportunities for the welfare of the residents of the region.

He said that the process of integration must be approached by various stakeholders both strategically and tactically. “There must be long, medium and short term plans to mange this huge change in the lives of millions of residents of KP and Fata,” he added.

Prof Ghayur Ahmad said that although tribal areas were merged into KP yet the huge task of its implementation was still ahead.

Fata Lawyers Froum president Rahim Shah Afridi said that people with their rising expectations were looking forward to the PTI government and its pledges for a change. He asked the government to come up with a clear roadmap on merger mechanism so that the process was completed at its earliest.

Senior journalist Iftikhar Firdous asked the government to devise a comprehensive strategy for settling land and water disputes that caused intra-tribal enmities.

Dr Rahmanullah said that the process of integration would not only give rise to various issues and challenges but had already triggered a lot of governance and policy issues.

However, he said that it was normal as across the world issues emerged as a result of such a huge political and social change.

Farooq Malik, the coordinator of department of politics, governance and public policy, said that the department was established to discuss, debate, teach and research numerous policy and governance issues of KP and Pakistan.

He said that the department would continue to debate all policy and governance issues and would come up with policy feed for various government and private departments as well as international donors and stakeholders.

Mr Malik said that documented recommendations of the conference for various sectors would be forwarded to the relevant departments, civil society and development organisations for incorporation into policies, governance strategies and interventions.

Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2018