PESHAWAR: The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has notified an inter-ministerial “Peace and Reforms Committee” for the newly merged districts of the erstwhile Fata that, surprisingly, does not include a single civil officer with the exception of the inspector general of police.

The notification issued by the Chief Minister’s Secretariat took the officialdom in the Civil Secretariat by surprise, prompting many to scramble for answers. The CM Secretariat, which under the rules of business is not authorised to issue a notification; felt elevated enough to “copy” the chief secretary for information only.

The committee does not include the additional chief secretary of the erstwhile Fata, nor does it include any of the secretaries including the secretary finance, secretary local government or secretary home and tribal affairs. And while it does include the IGP, other stakeholders involved with security in the tribal hinterland have also not been included.

No civil servant except IGP member of Peace and Reforms Committee

The notification, which was supposed to have been issued by the relevant department under the rules of business, has given credence to speculations of a turf-war between the police and the civil administration vying for a bigger piece of pie than they can digest.

Dawn has learnt on good authority that the chief secretary, who was also caught unawares, told aides that he was taking up the matter with the CM Secretariat and would seek the inclusion of civil officers in the already bloated committee.

The issuance of the notification comes amid concern amongst key stakeholders over the seemingly indifferent attitude and lack of interest at the leadership level in KP, both on the political and civil side, to push the merger plan full steam.

Lack of coordination and decision-making at the top level can be seen from the setting up of the committee that came exactly on the 100th day of the chief minister in office. He had taken oath of office on August 17. It was on November 26, that Prime Minister Imran Khan took CM Mahmood Khan along on his maiden visit to North Waziristan. The chief minister has yet to undertake his own solo visit to any of the recently merged districts of erstwhile Fata.

Exacerbating the already existing confusion emanating from the striking down of the interim arrangement by the Peshawar High Court, is the prevailing suspicion between the two important institutions -- the police and the civil administration -- that has undermined the entire merger process.

The committee so notified is led by Senior Minister for Sports Mohammad Atif Khan and includes minister for law, minister for finance, minister for information, spokesperson to the provincial government and a retired bureaucrat Sahibzada Mohammad Saeed and Provincial Police Officer Salahuddin Mehsud. Amongst the ‘terms of reference’ are the proposing reform initiatives for ensuring peaceful environment, setting strategic direction and police level direction to all relevant departments for smooth implementation of government policies and development initiatives.

It would also take up issues with the federal government for smooth transition and earmarking of current and development funds and make liaison with police and other law enforcement agencies for ensuring peaceful environment.

The committee has also been mandated to review PSDP and ADP projects and formulate new budget and ADP besides reviewing local government initiatives.

No timeframe has been given or benchmark set for the committee to complete the tasks assigned to it.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2018