PESHAWAR: A multiparty conference has demanded of the government to withdraw army troops from the merged districts of former Fata and empower police and Levies to maintain law and order situation in the area.

The participants of the conference alleged that federal and provincial governments had started pre-poll rigging in the seven tribal districts ahead of elections for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly. They asked the government to either take army troops back to barracks or deploy them along the border.

The conference convened by Jamaat-i-Islami here on Sunday demanded of the Election Commission of Pakistan to take notice of the pre-poll rigging in the area. The conference demanded announcement of election schedule and one/third representation for defunct Fata in the provincial cabinet.

Multiparty conference accuses KP and centre of pre-poll rigging in erstwhile Fata

Awami National Party, Pakistan Peoples Party, Quami Watan Party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, lawyers and civil society groups attended the moot held at JI’s secretariat. A joint declaration issued in the concluding session of the conference asked ECP to announce election schedule immediately.

In a related development, another conference titled “Fata merger, issues and solutions” was arranged by Pakhtunkhwa Jamhoori Ittehad (PJI) in Nishtar Hall here on Sunday.

ECP is likely to announce schedule for 16 constituencies of the provincial assembly during the last days of April. Political parties have started election campaign in the merged districts.

The joint declaration issued by the multiparty conference said that Imran Khan was the prime minister of Pakistan and not of a particular party. It said that the way he was holding public meetings in the merged districts under the banner of PTI and government security would influence election results.

“Therefore ECP should take notice of the visits of the prime minister to merged districts,” it said. The conference said that federal cabinet had abolished ministry of state and frontier regions in its second meeting, despite that state minister for Safron was appointed.

It said that appointment of state minister for Safron was violation of the 25th Amendment because former Fata was then under the administrative control of the provincial government. The declaration said that the government was using tactics to delay extension of judiciary and police to the merged districts and warned that political parties would resist such moves.

The MPC asked the government to regularise personnel of Levies and Khassadar forces and give them proper training, equipment and incentives. It said that government should fill 30,000 vacancies and recruit local people on the vacant posts.

The declaration said that the government should open all notified checkposts in tribal districts for bilateral trade with Afghanistan and revenue generated from those checkposts should be spent on the development of those areas.

Addressing the conference, JI provincial chief Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan said that people of merged districts had been left helpless after passage of 25th Amendment. He said that government should exempt merged districts from taxes and duties for the next 20 years.

Sherpao for rectification of mistakes

Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) chairman Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao has urged the government to rectify the mistakes committed in census in tribal districts, give three per cent share in NFC to merged areas and resolve reservations of tribal people regarding missing persons and compensation to remove unrest among them.

He was addressing the conference organised by Pakhtunkhwa Jamhoori Ittehad.

PJI leaders including its convener Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao, Mukhtiar Bacha of National Party Pakhtunkhwa Wahdat, Afzal Shah Khamosh of Mazdoor Kisan Party, Ajmal Afridi of Pakhtunkhwa Olasi Tehreek, Shahab Khattak of Awami Workers Party, known lawyer Abdul Latif Afridi, former MNA Shahjee Gul Afridi, former MPA Yasmeen Lehri from Balochistan, Malik Misal Khan Orakzai of Fata Youth Jirga and Jangrez Khan Mohmand addressed the conference.

Mr Sherpao said that government should honour its pledge of spending Rs100 billion annually for 10 years in the tribal districts so that the destroyed schools, hospitals and other infrastructure could be rebuilt.

He said that thousands of tribal people had been displaced owing to militancy and subsequent military operations therefore the data collected during census in the absence of the people was questionable.

The QWP chief demanded removal landmines, resolving the issue of missing persons and abolishing checkpoints in the tribal districts to end the miseries of the local population.

The conference also issued a 20-point declaration that called for efforts to address the issue of terrorism and extremism in the tribal districts once for all.

It said that chief minister and provincial cabinet should have powers with regard to tribal districts. The announcement about the merger of Khasadar and Levies personnel into police should be implemented and people affected by acts of terrorism should be compensated, it added.

The government was asked to set up seven industrial zones and improve irrigation system in tribal districts. The declaration demanded construction of universities, district level hospitals, professional colleges and training institutes for nurses and teachers in tribal districts.

It demanded audit and details of all the foreign funds announced for the former tribal areas during the war against terrorism.

Two separate resolutions were also passed at the moot that called for removing the name of Dr Said Alam Mahsud from Exit Control List and taking steps to address the grievances of the Hazara community.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2019