Govt to fully concentrate on tribal areas' development to thwart plans to create instability: PM

Updated 28 Sep 2020

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Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the inauguration ceremony of Nahakki Tunnel and Shaikh Zayed Road in Mohmand on Monday. — DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the inauguration ceremony of Nahakki Tunnel and Shaikh Zayed Road in Mohmand on Monday. — DawnNewsTV

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said the government would fully concentrate on developing tribal areas so that plans of "certain elements" who do not want stability in those areas could be thwarted.

Addressing the inauguration ceremony of Nahakki Tunnel and Shaikh Zayed Road in Mohmand district, the premier said tribal areas had not been developed properly for the last 70 years and had been left behind. He voiced the apprehension that the lack of development in the areas could be exploited by some elements to create instability.

"I am afraid that certain elements that do not want stability in these areas will try to plan something [...] and they are fully funded by some foreign countries. Therefore, we will concentrate on the full development of these areas."

He said the ideology of a nation reflected its direction, and the ideology of Pakistan — envisioned by Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal — was to make the country a welfare state like the state of Madinah which took care of widowed women, children, the elderly and poor people.

"[My government's] desire is to lift up the weaker sections. When there is development in a country, it should be for the uplifting of all areas rather than the development of one area while the rest of them are left behind," he said.

The premier added that the tribal areas had remained undeveloped because the votes of the people living there did not help any political party come into power. "Our [policy] is that we have to give most attention to the most backward areas.

"We are making full efforts to spend maximum funds on tribal areas. It saddens me that provinces promised to give 30 per cent of NFC (National Finance Commission) award to tribal areas before we came into power but now they are not ready to do that. I want to remind them that our religion and Holy Quran tell us to fulfil our promises."

He said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had given the share from its award but other provinces had refused to do so, saying they were going through a difficult time. The premier said he would ask other provinces to contribute their share as well, adding that he also asked the planning ministry to "complete funds required for the tribal areas from anywhere."

Afghan peace

Prime Minister Imran said the Afghan border was being fenced to stop smuggling through the frontier. He said the government was also establishing border markets for the people to provide employment opportunities through trade.

He termed the start of the intra-Afghan dialogue "good news" and said that if it was successful, it would bring a huge change in the tribal areas through increased trade.

"[The government] will try to help in the tribal areas as much as possible. Our desire is to establish industry here. We are trying to plant olive trees here. Our research shows olive trees grow best in these areas. It will earn money that you cannot think of," he added.

Merger important for trade, tourism

Separately, the premier performed the groundbreaking of Timargarh-Khar-Mamad-Gat Road in Bajaur. KP Chief Minister Mehmood Khan and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa also attended the ceremony, according to Radio Pakistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a ceremony in Bajaur. — DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a ceremony in Bajaur. — DawnNewsTV

Speaking on the occasion, Imran said no politician knew the tribal areas better than him. "I know what concerns the people had when [tribal areas] were being merged and how they would have been left behind without it."

He said it was important to merge the areas with KP because it would facilitate trade and movement of people. "It was previously very difficult for someone to come here if they wanted to set up an industry [...] Our effort is to develop these areas so educational institutions and industries can be set up."

He said KP would be the first province that provided health insurance to all its residents. "I commend CM Mehmood Khan and his cabinet who took the decision. Complete health insurance is not available in most foreign countries as well, including America. This is a very big step."

He added that the government would develop the areas to facilitate trade and tourism.

The premier thanked the United Arab Emirates for sponsoring the construction of the road in Bajaur.