PESHAWAR: The mainstream political parties on Saturday resented the slow pace of work on development projects in the merged tribal districts and the government’s failure to release the pledged Rs100 billion annual funds for the region as a special package.
They also urged the government to withdraw the recent changes to the mines and mineral law claiming the move is meant to occupy mines and mineral reserves in the erstwhile Fata. The demands were made through a resolution unanimously adopted by the leaders of political parties in a tribal jirga here at Nishtar Hall.
The event was titled ‘national tribal rights jirga on post-Fata merger situation, needs, implementation and way forward’.
Mohammad Haseeb Khan, a member of the organising committee, tabled the resolution, which had 15 demands for the government.
Political leaders insist govt wants to occupy region’s mines, minerals
The participants included the leaders of Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Awami National Party, Jamaat-i-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Qaumi Watan Party.
The people from different walks of life, especially civil society activists and youths, also attended the event.
The resolution read that the government should continue with 10 years transitional special concessions and indemnity package especially regarding health, education, taxation, quotas, employment and legal framework for Levies, Khasadar and police personnel as agreed by the Sartaj Aziz Fata reforms committee.
It urged the government to prioritise the erstwhile Fata in development programmes while donors and humanitarian community should be facilitated in all merged districts.
Through the resolution, they also demanded of the government to immediately form an advisory committee comprising parliamentarians and technocrats/specialists to oversee the implementation of development and reform process.
“The government should rearrange the census in the erstwhile Fata as many tribal people have rejected the latest census figures,” the resolution reads.
MPAs Sardar Hussain Babak, Nisar Mohmand and Shafiq, former MNAs Shahjee Gul Afridi and Akhunzada Chattan, Haroon Rashid, Dr Said Alam Mehsud and others spoke on the occasion.
They came down hard on the provincial government over failure to properly handle the merger of the tribal region with the province and said no visible improvement had been seen in the administrative affairs of ex-Fata even one and a half years after the merger.
The speakers rejected the recent changes to the law related to mines and mineral in the province and said the move was meant to usurp the natural resources of tribal districts. They hailed the Fata-KP merger saying it has eliminated the ‘line dividing Pakhtuns in the region’.
The speakers said the process of development activities should be accelerated as further delay in the execution of uplift projects would create doubts in the minds of the residents regarding the region’s merger with the province.
They also said the landmines spread in the merged districts threatened the life of residents, especially children, so they should be removed without delay.
The speakers said militants had been eliminated from the region to a large extent, while the landmine explosions had killed and disabled scores of people.
The lawmakers said they would continue to fight for the rights of the merged districts in and outside the assembly.
Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2020