PESHAWAR, Jan 31: NWFP Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani on Thursday disclosed that the government was actively considering a set of measures to bring about structural changes in the administrative system in the NWFP and adjoining tribal regions to improve governance and ensure better security.

“Extraordinary times require extraordinary decisions,” Mr Ghani said in his maiden interaction with senior journalists at the Governor’s House.

“The government system in settled districts and the political system in tribal regions are heading towards a state of collapse. It’s a matter of grave concern. We face tough challenges. The whole system has become weak, demoralised and despondent. We are facing unusual set of circumstances that require unconventional and extraordinary support for the administrative system,” he said.

Highlighting the fact that the NWFP had tribal regions straddling its boundaries, was different from Punjab and other provinces, Governor Owais said that he had been able to convince the leadership in Islamabad to bring about structural changes in the system of governance, both in the NWFP and tribal regions.

In the first step, he said, he had already approved the appointment of Regional Coordinating Officers (RCOs) to serve as a link between the administration in settled districts and adjoining tribal areas, and ensure better coordination in maintaining law and order and security.

Officers to the newly created offices of the RCOs in central, northern and southern regions would be posted shortly, he said.

Similarly, he said, the government was also looking at the system of governance at the district level and strengthening the office of the District Coordinating Officers. “Times have changed and we need to adjust ourselves according to the changing times,” he remarked.

He said the lacunas and shortcomings in the devolution plan would be removed to make the system more functional. “There is now a realisation in the federal government that we need to bring structural changes to meet the challenges that are facing us.”

The offices of the political agents in the tribal regions, he said, also need to be made more active and functional. “We are in deep consultations with Islamabad and some measures would be introduced shortly,” he said. “And it will be a continuing process.”

Owais Ghani, who succeeded Lt Gen (retd) Ali Mohammad Jan Aurakzai as Governor NWFP earlier this month, said he was also working on an economic plan for the NWFP to meet three strategic objectives: to strengthen the NWFP’s own financial resource base, improve its trade potential by improving its infrastructure and create necessary incentives to attract investment for industrialisation.

Answering a question, he said that no talks were being held with militants in South Waziristan but emphasised that contacts were essential to create conducive atmosphere for negotiations.

He said that militants had carried out eleven concerted attacks on Luddah fort in South Waziristan and stormed the Sara Rogha fort while negotiations were on through a tribal jirga. “This was an open war against the state,” he said. But he made it clear that the government’s action was in line with the Riwaj (local traditions). “The government was forced to react,” he said.

Regarding the military operation in Darra Adamkhel, the governor said that the government had sent six jirgas in fifteen days to convince militants to resolve the issue through peaceful means. “But then they kidnapped soldiers and later shot them dead and commandeered army trucks.”

He said that the militants exploded three vehicles including a truck inside the Pakistan-Japan Friendship Tunnel that links Peshawar with Kohat, adding that repair work was underway and it would be opened to normal traffic shortly.

Earlier, the governor said that Pakistan was suffering from the fallout of the situation in Afghanistan where the writ of the state was very weak.

“Pakistan is not responsible for the problems in Afghanistan. Did Pakistan invite the Soviet Union to invade Afghanistan? Did Pakistan invite Osama bin Laden to come to Afghanistan? And did Pakistan invite the United States and Nato to invade Afghanistan?” he asked.

The availability of heavy weapons, record poppy cultivation and poor governance and the lack of broad political consensus were the major contributing factors to instability in Afghanistan, he added. “The battle for peace and stability in the region will be won and lost in Afghanistan,” he remarked.

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