News Analysis |
Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced that the federal government will provide all possible health, education and development facilities to the impoverished people of tribal areas. PM Khan was addressing a public gathering in Waziristan. The premier announced that the people of tribal areas will get health cards for free medical care, high-speed internet, new roads, small dams and energy projects.
PM also lamented that previous governments did not focus on the development of the tribal areas and focused on looting money for themselves. He regretted that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan’s People’s Party (PPP) did not pay any attention to these areas where people are facing acute socio-economic challenges.
PM Khan recently announced that the demands being presented by a rights movement was justified but their way of demanding was objectionable. He also reminded them that he had spoken long before others of why Pakistan should be wary of entering the war on terror against its own people. The premier also promised to improve socio-economic conditions in the tribal areas so that people could be provided with a dignified way of living.
Read more: Rs100bn Fata development plan: PTM’s deafening silence
PTI Promises to the Tribal People
The premier earlier announced that PTI’s government plans to spend over Rs100 billion annually for 10 years in the newly-merged tribal districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). This move marks the beginning of a new era in previously Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), containing 2.4% of Pakistan’s population, areas of Pakistan. It is group of seven Administrative units called Agencies namely Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram, North Waziristan, and South Waziristan Agency.
The premier tweeted: “Living up to our commitment, a three-week consultative process on a 10 year-long development plan for former FATA is being initiated, starting from Bajaur. Our people in the tribal area will see unprecedented development as [the] government plans to spend over Rs100 billion annually for 10 years in tribal districts.”
Living up to our commitment. A 3-week consultative process on 10 yr Dev Plan for former FATA is being initiated, starting from Bajaur. Our ppl in the tribal area will see unprecedented development as Govt plans to spend over Rs100 billion annually for 10 yrs in tribal districts
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 18, 2019
On 24 May, 2018, Pakistan’s National Assembly passed the FATA Reforms Bill, merging FATA, a Pashtun majority area along the Afghan border, with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The merger is considered a big step toward bringing constitutional governance and restoring peace to these areas. The peace and order in tribal areas faded away in 1990s when militancy took its roots and started dominating the political discourse of FATA.
The emergence of military created social, cultural, and economic problems for the natives. It led to an unprecedented emergence of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Pakistan. Experts argue that several military operations to eliminate terrorists from the tribal areas have adversely affected socio-cultural settings of the area. Therefore, the incumbent needs an overall reform package in order to upgrade the damaged system of governance and the rule of law.
Read more: FATA’s merger into KPK is not a guarantee of socio-economic prosperity
Salman Bangash, Assistant Professor at the Department of History, University of Peshawar, believes that “the historic constitutional and legislative changes that have brought about Fata’s merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are a first step in the right direction, but due to complexities, intricacies and numerous hurdles, it will be a gigantic task to implement them”. “Major problems and challenges,” argues Mr. Bangash, “of such implementation include modification and changes to the prevailing tribal administrative set-up and to the role and responsibilities of existing officials and various tribal forces such as the Levies Force and Khasadars.”
There are rare natural resources available in previously FATA such as marble, copper, limestone and coal but their extraction remained minimum due to ongoing war on terror. In the backdrop of FATA’s merger with KPK, it is widely hoped that the incumbent government shall focus on building schools, medical colleges and employment opportunities in the region.
According to data provided by the FATA Secretariat in 2017, there are 5,957 educational institutes — mostly schools — in the tribal areas. Out of the count, 812 are not functioning properly due to an absence of teachers or students while 44 are completely closed. Experts suggest that education and health facilities be introduced in the region in order to mainstream all seven agencies constituting formerly FATA.