PESHAWAR: The provincial assembly and local government elections must be held in the tribal districts and then the National Finance Commission (NFC) funds should be released immediately to ensure swift development of the area after merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

These thoughts were expressed by experts in tribal affairs in a panel discussion in TNN’s Badloon programme. Fata Political Alliance former president Asadullah Afridi, eminent social and political activist Dr Abdul Haye and Fata Youth Jirga member Naila Altaf took part in the programme.

Asadullah Afridi said Rs100 billion under the NFC Award must be released immediately for mitigating the sufferings of people in the tribal districts and ensuring quick uplift and development. He said the incoming government will find it difficult to address problems of Fata. He said the new government must ensure local government elections in the tribal districts as soon as possible to give the people a sense of participation in development.

Asadullah Afridi said the holding of provincial assembly elections in the tribal districts is inevitable to address their issues. He said the tribal lawmakers should get the powers of legislation for their areas in the provincial assembly.

Naila Altaf said the name of Fata has come to an end after merger with KP and the Fata Youth Jirga will also change its name soon. She said the tribal youth should now participate in the development process with a new vigour and enthusiasm.

The Fata Youth Jirga member said real change will come in the tribal districts and unemployment will reduce to a great extent with the timely availability of the NFC funds and its fair utilisation.

Dr Abdul Haye said establishment of durable peace in the tribal districts was vital for ensuring development of these areas after merger with KP. He said development process in the tribal districts cannot succeed without durable peace.

Dr Abdul Haye said relations must be improved with Afghanistan to ensure peace in the region and our policy about Afghanistan must also change. He said no one should interfere into internal matters of any country. He said law and order must be the top priority of the government, as development and job creation is not possible without peaceful environment.

Asad Afridi said the government should take practical steps for extending the jurisdiction of the superior courts to the tribal districts. He said the process adopted so far for extension of judicial system is vague and slow. He said if the Interim Governance Regulation Ordinance is issued in place of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) then it is also against the human rights. He said the government should implement Pakistan’s laws and Constitution in the tribal districts.

The panel agreed that the tribal people must be taken into confidence for resolution of administrative problems. They said the best resolution of these problems is holding of local bodies elections in the tribal districts to empower the people to solve issues on grassroots level. The experts also agreed that formation of a force was inevitable to ensure smooth running the administrative system in the tribal districts. They said Khassadar is a tradition tribal Force and physically fit personnel from this Force must be adjusted in Levies. They said the remaining Khassadar personnel must be trained to become part of Police Force.