Experts hail abolition of agency development funds

PESHAWAR: The cessation of agency development funds in the erstwhile Fata region is a positive development as it will bring an end to corrupt practices, experts said in TNN’s Badloon programme.

They said a proper system of check and balance has been introduced in the tribal areas after merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) which will ensure transparent distribution of financial resources.

Journalist Lihaz Ali, Advocate Farhad Afridi, and political activist from Khyber district Murad Saqi took part in the panel discussion.

Lihaz Ali said the system of agency development funds was in place since the British rule and political agents used to collect these funds. He said there was no record of such funds and the political agents used it according to their own free will.

This fund was also called agency welfare fund, but it was rarely spent on the development of tribal areas, added by Murad Saqi. He said a large chunk of these funds used to go to ‘favorites’. He said the KP governor, chief secretary and even the President of Pakistan utilised these funds.

Advocate Farhad Afridi said these funds were collected under a self-made procedure, which had no legal standing. He said these funds were gathered through toll tax and other methods and no record is available about it. He said the fines imposed under the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) also came under these funds. He said these funds were used arbitrarily to appease blue eyed tribal elders, journalists and even lawyers.

Lihaz Ali said it is a matter of great satisfaction that these funds are stopped in erstwhile Fata after its mainstreaming. He said it will promote a system of check and balance. He said the tribal areas may suffer temporary loss, but stoppage of these funds was inevitable for durable progress of the region.

Farhad Afridi said though the stoppage of agency development funds is a commendable step, but it is also a fact that the governments in the past did not take decisions in the favor of people. He said the tribal people are still facing hindrance in approaching the high court and Supreme Court, which is a matter of grave concern.