PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Monday echoed with the distress of two families in Lower Dir and Peshawar, whose minor family members have gone missing from their homes but the local administrations and police have yet to ‘wake up from the slumber’ for their recovery.

On a point of order, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal MPA Inayatullah Khan pointed out that the parents of a 12-year-old girl, who had gone missing from her home in Lower Dir district 27 days ago, were hoping against hope that the girl would be recovered.

He said the grief-stricken parents had been banking on public goodwill to trace their daughter.

The lawmaker said the local police knew about the missing girl but hadn’t taken any action for their recovery.

He warned that the locals could take to the streets if the girl wasn’t recovered.

Govt flayed for failing to ensure IDPs’ repatriation

Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Nighat Yasmin Orakzai said a five-year-old girl, Zainab, had gone missing from Nothia area of Peshawar around four months ago but the police were using delaying tactics to trace her.

She said innocent children were frequently kidnapped before their mutilated bodies were found.

The lawmaker urged the government to take notice of the missing children.

During question hour, the government didn’t give timeline for the return of thousands of internally displaced families to their homes in North Waziristan and other merged tribal districts.

Responding to a question of independent MPA from North Waziristan Mir Kalam Khan, minister for law and parliamentary affairs Sultan Mohammad Khan told the house that the return of IDPs would resume after the security forces issued clearance.

He said 2,041 displaced families had been provided with accommodation in Bakakhel Camp near Bannu, while the government was in contact with the Afghan government for the repatriation of families, who had migrated to Afghanistan in the wake of the Zarb-i-Azb operation against militants.

The minister said around 6,000 families had so far been brought back from Afghanistan.

He said the government was paying Rs12,000 to every displaced family on a monthly basis.

MPA Mir Kalam said thousands of displaced families had been living a miserable life in Bakakhel Camp or rented houses outside their native lands.

“Tent life can’t be a replacement for a home’s, so the government should fix a timeline for the safe and sustainable return of IDPs,” he said.

The lawmaker said around 15,000 families had migrated from Datakhel area of North Waziristan to Afghanistan after military operation.

He said the government should explain reasons for not clearing Datakhel and Shawal areas for IDPs.

The opposition benches also highlighted security situation, state of human rights and unavailability of basic facilities, including healthcare and education, in tribal districts.

Finance minister Taimur Khan Jhagra, law minister Sultan Khan, PTI chief whip Qalandar Khan Lodhi and other ministers left the house without replying to the matter.

Adviser to the chief minister on science and information technology Ziaullah Bangash responded to the opposition’s adjournment motion.

Initiating debate on her adjournment motion, PPP MPA Nighat Orakzai expressed concern about the unavailability of basic facilities in tribal districts.

She said the people of former Fata had yet to benefit from the 25th Constitutional Amendment through which the region was merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in May 2018.

The lawmaker said there was an administrative vacuum in the merged districts as the civil administration had yet to take over.

Outspoken PPP MPA Ahmad Kundi said the state had yet to change its policies towards the people of tribal districts, who had sacrificed their honour and properties for national solidarity and security.

He said the merger didn’t change the lives of the residents and instead, their sufferings had increased manifold.

Mr Kundi said military regimes had turned the former Fata into a battleground to protect own interests.

He said the rights of the people of merged districts were being usurped.

“I demand the president of Pakistan apologise to the people of former Fata over the injustices meted out to them during the last 70 years,” he said.

Mr Kundi said former president Asif Zardari had tendered an apology to the people of Balochistan for the same and announced a mega development package for them.

MMA MPA Inayatullah Khan said the sense of deprivation was increasing among the people of the erstwhile Fata, while the opposition was growing against the KP-Fata merger due to antagonistic policies of the government.

He said after merger, the government had announced that Rs100 billion would be spent on development of the region every year but no action had been taken in that respect.

Adviser to the chief minister Ziaullah Bangash said the opposition was portraying a wrong picture of the situation in tribal districts.

He claimed that work on development schemes was in full swing with the ministers regularly visiting the tribal region for examining it.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2021

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