TIMERGARA: The Sultankhel, Paindakhel, Osakhel and Nusradinkhel tribes of Lower and Upper Dir districts on Sunday rejected the government’s decision to impose tax on collection of sand and gravel from the riverbeds, and demanded immediate withdrawal of the levy.

The tribal elders threatened that they would violate the section 144 imposed by the district administration if the tax was not reversed until Dec 3.

The decision was made at a meeting with Malik Behram Khan in the chair. Beside others, former provincial minister Malik Jehan Zeb, Javed Iqbal Advocate, Akhunzada Sikandar Hazrat, Akhunzada Hanifullah, Yousaf Adil, Suhail Nawab, Inam Khan and Farmanullah attended the meeting.

The elders said that Malakand division was a tax-free zone as the federal government had exempted its citizens from all kinds of taxes under an agreement. They said that under the agreement neither the government nor the administration could impose any tax in Lower and Upper Dir districts. They said the administration had imposed tax on collection of sand, gravel and other mines from the riverbeds and streams which had been a lone source of income for the local people.

The elders said that a jirga of Dir elders and local lawmakers had been convened on Dec 23 to take stock of the situation. They said that another jirga would also be formed to take up the issue with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2019