PESHAWAR: Speakers at a conference have asked the government to come up with a clear roadmap for implementing the reforms agenda in the newly formed tribal districts. Any unnecessary delay in the implementation process may prove fatal to the entire process.
This was the crux of a roundtable conference organized by Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) at a local hotel in Peshawar to deliberate upon “Integration of FATA into KP : Impediments and a way forward”(.
The conference attracted a select group of parliamentarians, academia, representatives of youth and women forums, legal experts, political analysts and business community beside a large number of civil society members and media leaders.
The event deliberated upon a wide range of issues that came forth in the aftermath of the passage of 25th amendment bill merging FATA with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Speaking on the occasion former MNA from Khyber tribal district Abdul Latif Afridi advocate said due to huge losses in terms of men and materials in erstwhile FATA, the government should come up with a sensible compensation package to help them rehabilitate and have a bit of relief from the mental trauma they have gone through all this while.
To that end, Afridi suggested 5-6 percent raise against the proposed 3 percent in the upcoming NFC award.
The newly formed task force was termed by many as a parallel force aimed at snatching or sharing the powers of Chief Minister KP, as part of the government’s what they call nefarious designs to keep the tradition alive of pulling FATA’s strings from the center. The induction of some of the anti-merger elements into the body, the participants said, was a clear manifestation of the government’s non-seriousness towards such a serious issue. This, the participants said, has certainly put the body’s credibility in question.
Former President, FATA Political Alliance Mr. Nisar Mohmand while questioning the establishment of the body asked why did the government feel the need for establishing the new task force when we have an active governor, CM and CS in place?
Member National Assembly from Khyber tribal districts Mr. Iqbal Afridi, however; said the entire nation was looking forward to the PTI-led government and its pledges for a change. It was time to pay the war-hit people back for their sacrifices they have been rendering for the nation during the decade long war on terror. Reforms, he said, was the best reward and we are committed to it.
The parliamentary leader of ANP in the KP assembly, Mr. Sardar Hussain Babak disclosed they are in the process of forming a Pakhtun Qaumi Jirga to take all the Pashtoon nationalist political parties along. The Jirga will present a list of demands to the federal government. The FATA’s reform agenda, Babak said would be on top of its list.
A former MNA from Bajaur tribal district Mr. Haroon Rashid said due to lack of clarity and ownership, the entire process hangs in limbo. He said the current political scenario calls for a more active role by the civil society.
Sharing the same views, a women activist Ms. Sana Ijaz urged the non-governmental entities to keep a vigilant eye on the progress being made by the government on the implementation process. They all have to join their forces together to make this entire process a success.
Raising questions about the proposed generation of Rs. 100 billion through the NFC award, senior journalist Iftikhar Firdous said it was, seemingly, only a ‘soft commitment’, with no binding measures or forceful machinery behind to get it translated into action.
Some of the participants raised questions on the capacity of the setting management (of FATA Secretariat) to optimally utilize the huge amounts, event if the dream comes true.
Mr. Ijaz Mohmand, former President, FATA Lawyer’s Forum while expressing his dissatisfaction over the performance of the existing management said snatching our due share ( 3 percent in NFC) itself, was a huge task to accomplish but optimal utilization of the huge fund was certainly a herculean task that lies beyond the capacity of the existing management team.
Some of the speakers recommended a bigger role for media to highlight issues of Pashtuns. The participants proposed forming a body of civil society organizations to keep pushing the government for speedy implementation of its reforms agenda.
The participants suggested the forum would identify gaps/loopholes in the implementation process and suggest practical recommendations to the government on how to bridge those gaps.
The forum, the participants agreed would duly criticize and appreciate the government in its right and wrong moves in order to ensure a smooth sail of business.
The speakers suggested the government should keep the people updated on any development through media in order to take them into confidence on what’s being done for them.