- AP (File Photo)

LANDI KOTAL: The tribal elders of Khyber Agency have reacted sharply to the Awami National Party’s demand about merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The tribesmen should be given an opportunity to decide about their future, Malik Abdul Razzaq told journalists at Landi Kotal Press Club on Tuesday.

He said that although they were not opposed to extension of Political Parties Act to tribal areas yet tribesmen would not allow a single political force to decide their future.

He questioned the credentials of ANP leadership in bringing an end to the ongoing conflict in Fata and alleged that none of the central leader of the so-called champions of Pakhtun rights bothered to visit any of the tribal regions during the last five years.

“It is solely the right of an elected council of Fata to decide the future course of action for the people of the area instead of a few hundreds handpicked ANP supporters,” Malik Razzaq added.

Similarly, taking serious exception to what he called the unlawful mingling in the affairs of Fata, former Senator Nasir Khan Afridi said that tribesmen would not allow any political party to impose its ideology on them.

“Such decisions and that too without taking ordinary tribesmen into confidence will bear dangerous consequences,” he warned, adding that only the politically aware tribesmen would decide whether to have a separate province or to merge with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Mr Afridi said that Fata was passing through a difficult and sensitive phase of history and ignoring the genuine sentiments of tribal people would have negative impacts on the overall situation of the region.

“The ANP's demand for merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is like rubbing salt on the wounds of Fata people,” he said.

Lauding the extension of Political Parties Act to Fata and bringing about some changes in the outdated Frontier Crimes Regulation, he insisted that all political forces must have a consensus stance about the future of Fata rather than furthering their own agendas and imposing their ideologies on tribesmen.

Malik Hassamuddin, another tribal elder of Khugakhel tribe, argued that instead of wasting time on the issue of merger, all political forces should join hands in implementing in totality the changes made to FCR and reducing the role of political administration.

He alleged that political activists of different parties were no different from the pro-administration tribal elders, who were seen doing rounds of the office of political agent for their personal benefits.

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