ISLAMABAD: Political and judicial vacuum coupled with bad governance and massive corruption in state institutions that resulted in creating a gap between the state and society ultimately led to the people’s exclusion from the political process in today’s tribal belt of Pakistan. This gap between the two ends finally led the people to lose confidence over state institutions. To restore people’s confidence over state institution, the government should include the people back into the political process. And the best way is to hold early elections of the local bodies in the erstwhile FATA.
This was the crux of a roundtable discussion held at Riphah University Islamabad in collaboration with Tribal Youth Organization. The event titled “Integration of FATA into KP; Challenges and the way forward” attracted a select group of parliamentarians, media leaders, political and legal experts, youth and women forum beside a large number of civil society members.
President Tribal Youth Organization, Mr. Farhad Ali moderated the event.
Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Noorul Haq Qadri while highlighting efforts of his government said they were committed to the cause of mainstreaming FATA no matter what come may. He said that his government was considering giving the Jirga a legal cover. He also said that the government was considering increasing the number of provincial seats for the tribal districts up to 24. The minister assured the audiences that neither levis nor Khasadars would lose their jobs rather they would be inducted as regular police force.
Minister of State for Climate Change Ms. Zartaj Gul said Prime Minister Imran Khan has a strong political will and a clear vision with a well defined agenda to put the region on the track to progress and prosperity. She further said that her government was aware of the importance of local bodies election. They are preparing for holding early elections in the tribal districts to include people in the political process and give them a sense of ownership to the system they are part of, she said.
The veteran politician and former senator Farhatullah Babar in his noteworthy address talked about the assets and liabilities. Babar told the audience “how can we make opportunities out of the existing challenges”. Linking FATA’s security to the political stability in Afghanistan, the former senator urged the government to revisit its Afghan policy and develop friendly relationship with the neighboring Afghanistan.
MNA from Kurrum Tribal District Munir Orakzai while raising questions over the capacity of the government asked for establishment a strong monitoring mechanism to run a check on the huge transactions amounting to Rs. 100 billion per annum as part of the 10 years socio-economic development plan for the region.
Senior Anchor person Mr. Saleem safi while raising questions over the newly formed task force said the government should have established a parliamentary committee instead with more room for the elected representatives from the tribal districts. Mr. Nisar Mohamand urged the government to convene the meeting of the NFC at the earliest to sort out the 3 percent share and start developmental activities in the region at the earliest.
An Islamabad based political analyst Dr Ashraf Ali said though constitutionally FATA stands merged into KP but there were still a lot of challenges that need huge financial and administrative commitments on part of the federal as well as provincial governments.
Senior anchorperson Hassan Khan while dubbing the Interim Governance Regulation (IGR) as a replica of the FCR called for its early review by the provincial assembly of Khyber Pakhtinkhwa.
Speaking on the occasion, Senator Sajad Hussain Tori however; made the point clear that government is coming up with an ordinance within 15 days where different concerns regarding post merger issues will be resolved.
Besides, central leader of PTI Ajmal Wazir, Ex Ambassador Ayaz Wazir, Brig (rtd) Said Nazir, Naveed Shinwari also contributed to the discussion on how to move forward.
Earlier in his welcome address Director of the Riphah Institue for Public Policy Dr. Rashid Aftab welcomed the guests and hoped that the valuable discussion would contribute to the informed debates in the national discourse on this important issue.