KHYBER: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa minister for tribal affairs Syed Aamir Abdullah on Friday said that international obligations and the ongoing political strife with Afghanistan were the major factors behind the implementation of a strict border management policy.

Addressing a gathering at the Jirga Hall in Landi Kotal area here on Friday, the minister insisted that the strict border management policy could not be construed in isolation of the political relations with Afghanistan with Torkham border as no exception.

Responding to the reservations of some tribal elders about trade and other cross-border “relaxations” at Wagah border, he said no trade was taking place between Pakistan and India via the Wagah border, while the federal government was interested in facilitating trade with Afghanistan at all border crossing points.

He, however, said the provincial government had no authority to alter any international border-related policy but could suggest ways to improve and ease policies for the collective betterment of the people living on both sides of the border to improve relations.

Mr Abdullah said work on the Peshawar-Torkham Express Highway would begin in Feb and that the project’s completion would not only expedite the country’s trade with Afghanistan and Central Asian States but also provide better transport facilities to the local population and create more employment opportunities to jobless tribesmen.

Responding to the demand of tribal elders for development projects, he said the present caretaker setup would focus on the execution of the previously approved uplift schemes as it had no financial authority to recommend new projects.

The minister, however, assured them that the provincial government would look into the issues confronted by the local population regarding health, education, solarisation of tubewells and roads.

He promised to take up the matter of providing jobs to the family members of the martyred and retired police personnel in the police department with the inspector general of police.

The minister also addressed tribal youth and said the provincial cabinet had approved a big scheme of interest-free loans of Rs70 crore for the youth and women in tribal districts in the age bracket of 18-50.

“These loans are being given away from Rs300,000 to Rs10,00,000 to professionals, skilled persons and common people for their better employment and start of business,” he said.

Mr Abdullah said five and a half thousand scholarships were being provided to the youth of tribal districts in connection with skill and technical training so that they could stand on their own feet.

He said that Khyber tribal district would be given adequate share for the ongoing development projects from the special package of the Accelerated Implementation Programme.

The minister asked the district administration for the provision of a comprehensive report based on the entire development plan of Khyber, including ADP and AIP projects.

He later distributed loan letters to individuals under a government scheme.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2023

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