Shah Nawaaz Afridi
PESHAWAR: The government should hold early local government elections in the newly merged areas in order to take the people along in the decision making process of the marginalized area. This will put an end to the decades long sense of frustration and deprivation developed by the people in the area over the years.
This was the crux of a roundtable conference organized by Khidmat Ul Khalq Foundation, a local research based organization in Khyber Tribal District. The event attracted a select group of politicians, representatives of media, academia, civil society, legal fraternity, rights activists, youth forums, educationalists and medical professionals.
The participants of the conference urged the government to arrange for early local bodies elections in the area as this was the only way out to restore people’s confidence over state institutions by taking them along in the political process and giving them a due say in the decision making process. This will give them a sense of ownership to the system they are part of, they argued.
The participants also demanded a decent increase in the seats allocated for the provincially assembly in the newly merged areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while retaining the existing 12 seats for the National Assembly.
Terming the merger a welcome move, the speakers asked for a well-thought, well defined developmental agenda in the war-hit area to raise its human development indicators and bring it at par with the rest parts of the country. This will not only put the backward region on the track to progress and prosperity but also deny space for the non state actors in the region to make a come back. To that end, the participants urged the government to allocate the promised 3 percent NFC share for the region at its earliest.
Some of the participants stressed the need for creating awareness amongst the masses regarding the reforms process, recommending a key role for media, political parties and civil society, to make the entire reform process a success. This, they argued, will foil the bid of the anti-reform elements to sabotage the process.
Some of the participants raised questions on the capacity of the government in spending over 10000 billions rupees as part of the 10 years socio-economic development plan over the next 10 years. Others recommended a strong role for women and youth in the decision making process.
Appreciating the government’s move on border management, the speakers asked for a more sophisticated system of rule of law in the region to improve security in the once troubled region. They demanded of the government that locals should be inducted in the police force.
The participants were all one voice to ask for a due compensation package from the government for the damaged infrastructure in the insurgency-hit area. They asked for immediate relocation of the TDPs and rebuilding of the damaged infrastructure so that the people of the area is given a chance to live in peace after witnessing years long war and mass displacements.