PESHAWAR: A multiparty conference here on Tuesday called upon the federal and provincial governments to fulfil commitments made with the people of tribal districts after the merger of former Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Awami National Party organised the event at its central secretariat here, where information minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai and leaders of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, Qaumi Watan Party, Pakhtun Tahafuz Movement, Jamaat-i-Islami and other parties were in attendance.

The participants demanded of the government to announce schedule for the local bodies’ elections in the province including merged tribal districts and handover powers to elected representatives and civil administration to oversee development schemes and governance-related matters.

A joint declaration issued after the conference called upon the government to take practical step for the rehabilitation of thousands of the internally displaced families, who had returned to their homes after the restoration of peace.

Demands LB elections, powers for elected representatives and rehab of IDPs in tribal districts

The leaders also demanded of the government to expedite the reconstruction of damaged infrastructure in the militancy-affected areas and release Rs100 billion for development schemes in the current financial year.

The declaration said the government should open designated routes with Afghanistan for bilateral trade to create employment opportunities for the residents.

It added that the merged districts should be exempted from all taxes and duties for next 10 years and ensured recruitment of 22,000 Khassadar personnel.

The conference asked the government to abolish checkposts and stop security agencies from detaining youth, produce all missing persons before the courts, and clear landmines and anti-personnel mines from the militancy-hit areas.

According to it, the government should end good-bad Taliban differentiation, restore 3G system in tribal districts and establish universities for women in every tribal district.

ANP provincial president Aimal Wali Khan told participants that political forces would continue struggle and process of consultation to resolve problems of the people of merged districts.

He said a committee comprising representatives of all political parties had been constituted to visit merged districts to understand ground realities.

“The government is not fulfilling its commitments with the people of merged districts,” he said.

The ANP leader said unity among Pakhtuns was need of the hour to address their vital issues.

He said political parties should hold talks with the security establishment to resolve outstanding issues of Pakhtuns.

He said Pakhtuns would not allow any force to use their land for proxy wars and that ANP would continue struggle to safeguard political and economic rights of the people of KP.

Information minister Shaukat Yousafzai said tenders for development works in merged districts valuing Rs84 billion had been issued, which was a step toward development of merged districts.

He said the government wanted to hold local government elections in the entire province, including tribal districts, simultaneously.

The minister said the integration of tribal district in KP was difficult job, which had been successfully completed, while the government had begun development from zero in former Fata.

He said the government issued health cards to every family in merged districts through which they could avail health facilities up to almost Rs700,000; Rs1 billion loans had been given to young people for employment; Khasadar and the Levies force had been successfully integrated into the police, and the courts had been established in tribal districts for speedy justice.

The minister said developmental work would be carried out through elected representatives in the tribal districts.

He said Torkham border had been opened 24/7 to promote trade with Afghanistan, while peace in Afghanistan would facilitate trade with the Central Asia.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2020