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100 Billion for Tribal areas: PM Khan


News Analysis |

On Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the government’s plan to uplift tribal districts in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) by spending PKR 100 billion annually.

In a tweet sent this morning, the Premier stated “Our ppl[people] in the tribal area will see unprecedented development as Govt plans to spend over Rs100 billion annually for 10 yrs in tribal districts, Living up to our commitment. A 3-week consultative process on 10 year Dev[elopement] Plan for former FATA is being initiated, starting from Bajaur.”

Recently, the Prime Minister announced the launch of Sehat Insaf Card scheme in the tribal region while on a visit to Mohmand district. In an address to the tribal elders at Ghalanai, the Headquarters of Mohmand district, he said the Sehat Insaf Card would provide benefits to the people of tribal districts like rest of their countrymen and anyone who has the card will be eligible to get treatment at any hospital up to Rs. 720,000 annually.

The social and economic uplift of the region can take place. PM Khan’s latest step of 100 billion rupees is one in the right direction.

He also said that the tribal districts will be developed whilst education, as well as job opportunities, will be created, with the youth in mind. He also reiterated that the construction of Mohmand Dam will help generate electricity and at the same time help irrigate a vast barren land; He further said that tourism opportunities will be explored and promoted in tribal districts as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa can become a tourism hub, which has undoubtedly helped in reduction of poverty during the last five years.

While assuring tribesmen of better infrastructure in tribal districts, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the development will occur but it will take time due to the reason that the area was for decades ruled under very “outdated laws”. PM Khan also said the Levies and Khasadar forces will be merged into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police as promised by the government at the time of tribal areas merger with the province.

Read more: FATA’s merger into KPK is not a guarantee of socio-economic prosperity

The PM announced the start of 3G/4G internet service for Bajaur without any delay. He also announced a campus of Fata University for Bajaur, the opening of Ghakhi border pass and linking Barang road with The newly constructed Swat Expressway.

“The government has sanctioned Rs 2 billion in loans for the youth of tribal districts to start their business on easy installment and zero markup,” PM Khan promised the Bajaur tribals’ gathering. Premier Imran told the gathering that the people of tribal districts will soon be provided with health cards which would cover the medical treatment of up to Rs 720, 000.

The Prime Minister announced the launch of Sehat Insaf Card scheme in the tribal region while on a visit to Mohmand district.

During his Bajaur speech, Prime Minister Imran Khan has once again offered an olive branch to his Indian counterpart in the “best interest of the country”. “I’m ready to do anything for the country even I can negotiate with [Indian Prime Minister] Narendra Modi for the betterment of Pakistan,” the premier remarked.

Calling the people of Afghanistan brothers, he said US talks with the Afghan Taliban are underway and soon there will be a government in the war-torn country comprising of all stakeholders which, according to him, would establish the peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Read more: Baluchistan and Sindh should cut FATA some slack: Taimur Jhagra

The infamous Elaqa-e-Ghair or No Mans’ Land, officially known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) formally became part of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province after subsequent approvals from the National Assembly of Pakistan, the Senate of Pakistan, and the KP Provincial Assembly last year. The bill, also known as Federally Administered Tribal Areas’ Reforms Bill was signed into law by the President of Pakistan on May 31, 2018.

The FATA Reforms Bill was passed by the National Assembly with an overwhelming majority as the 31st Constitutional Amendment Bill. A total of 229 parliamentarians voted in favor of the bill while only 11 opposed it. The KP assembly was no different as 92 MPAs out of the house of 124 voted in favor of the bill. The Upper House of the Pakistani Legislature (Senate) approved the bill with 71 votes in favor while 5 opposing the bill.

The bill, also known as Federally Administered Tribal Areas’ Reforms Bill was signed into law by the President of Pakistan on May 31, 2018.

The opposition throughout the houses came from only two political parties, namely Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam, Fazal (JUI-F) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP). For the past seven decades, political elite and policy-makers of Pakistan kept the matter of FATA’s merger with KP in limbo and ruled FATA via a draconian law of the colonial era, the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR).

Failure of subsequent governments over the years to address the issues of poverty, basic human rights and exclusion from national economic and constitutional affairs led to the political, social and economic alienation of FATA’s population. However, with the new government in power who played a key role in mainstreaming the FATA region, the social and economic uplift of the region can take place. PM Khan’s latest step of 100 billion rupees is one in the right direction.