PESHAWAR: Opposition members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Tuesday demanded of the government to specify a timeframe for introducing district courts and police and revenue systems in the merged tribal districts.
For the first time, the house began a thorough discussion on damaged infrastructure in the militancy-ravaged tribal districts and socioeconomic conditions of the residents after the region’s merger with KP in May 2018.
Starting the debate, opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani said tribal districts were merged with the province without homework which created administrative and legal complications.
Opposition tells PA that Fata merged with KP without homework causing complications
He said the Levies and Khasadar personnel had been protesting since the Fata-KP merger as the government had yet to work out a mechanism for the extension of the police system.
Mr Durrani said seven tribal districts didn’t have land settlement and revenue system, which could create land disputes among tribes and families.
He asked the government to fix a timeframe for land settlement, revenue system, shifting of district courts, and introduction of police system.
The opposition leader said the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl was not in favour of the immediate Fata-KP merger and had called for a delay in the exercise for at least five years.
He said his party’s stand was to complete the reconstruction and rehabilitation work before deciding the future of Fata.
Mr Durrani said the federal government had announced three percent share in the National Finance Commission Award for tribal districts but three provinces, including Punjab, were not ready to share their resources from the divisible pool.
He said the federal government didn’t have resources to arrange Rs100 billion for merged district every year.
The opposition leader said the federal government didn’t have cash and that the funds meant for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project was being paid to MNAs for development work in their respective constituencies.
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced Rs150 million for every MNA to be transferred from the CPEC projects to other schemes, which would adversely affect the corridor project.
Awami National Party MPA Sardar Hussain Babak said former Fata used as a buffer zone for the last seven decades had become a safe sanctuary for terrorists.
He said around 19,000 shops and other business outlets were destroyed during military operations in Mirali and Miramshah.
The ANP leader said the notified routes for trade with Afghanistan had been sealed but even then, smuggling was going on unabated.
“Personnel of the law-enforcement agencies are charging Rs2.5 million from each truck transporting smuggled goods from Afghanistan to Pakistan,” he said asking the government to check the illegal practice.
He said a plan was under consideration to award contracts to FWO and NLC.
Mr Babak said the government should include the reconstruction of damaged houses in its 10 years development plan.
ANP’s Bahadur Khan asked the government to shift district courts from neighbouring districts to the administrative headquarters of tribal districts.
He said buildings were available in Khar, Landi Kotal, Ghalanai and headquarters of other districts to accommodate judges and their staff.
MPA Inayatullah Khan called for the proper utilisation of Rs1,000 billion in tribal districts in the next 10 years.
Referring to a UNDP report, he said 66,979 houses were completely damaged and 38,754 partially damaged in tribal districts, which required Rs32 billion for reconstruction.
The lawmaker said 52.3 percent residents of former Fata lived below the poverty line.
PPP MPA Sher Azam Wazir rejected the Fata-KP merger and demanded a separate province comprising seven districts.
He said the government did not hold consultation with the relevant residents before merger, which caused complications.
Information minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai said Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced a university and medical college for Waziristan for which 2,000 kanals land would be acquired.
He said those projects were discussed in the cabinet’s meeting on Tuesday.
The minister asked politicians to visit tribal districts.
He said the cabinet also approved the youth employment programme for tribal districts, while the distribution of health cards had begun.
The minister said the federal government had released Rs16 billion for tribal districts, which would be brought on a par with the country’s developed areas.
The lawmakers will continue with the debate on merged districts today (Wednesday).
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Energy Development Organisation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was presented in the assembly.
The chair later adjourned the sitting until 1:30pm today (Wednesday).
Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2019