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FIA to regulate people`s movement at Torkham

By Zulfiqar Ali 2014-11-09
PESHAWAR: The federal government is likely to task the Federal Investigation Agency with regulating human traffic at Torkham border crossing in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

The relevant officials told Dawn on Saturday that the Civil Secretariat Fata would soon request the federal government to extend the relevant sections of the Federal Investigation Agency Act, 1974 for permanent deployment of staff in Torkham town to regulate humantraffic between the two countries.

They said the FIA laws were being extended to facilitate the establishment of terminal at Torkham that will cost around Rs 300 million. Construction of the terminal would be started on war footing after completion of legal formalities within one month.

Civil Secretariat Fata will take up the case with ministry of foreign affairs to inform the Afghan government about the construction of the proposed facility at the border town. The secretariat would also request Prime Minister`s secretariat for the provision of funds for the project.

A decision regarding extension of relevant laws was taken in a meeting held at the civil secretariat Fata in Peshawar on last Thursday, where senior officials of the relevant authorities were in attendance.

The officials said the facilityrequired 415 kanals of land.

The federal government had planned construction of facility at Torkham long ago but the project didn`t see light of the day due to Shinwari tribe`s claim that the property belonged to them.

An official said a summary about extension of the relevant sections of the FIA Act would be sent to the federal government for the approval of President Mamnoon Hussain.

He said the civil secretariat would bear the cost of establishing facilities for FIA.

Currently, FIA can`t operate in tribal areas.

In 2003, the federal government had tried in vain to depute FIA staff at Torkham without legal cover.

The political administration of Khyber Agency had asked the investigation agency`s staff to leave the town soon after arrival.

Torkham is considered one of the`softest` crossing points along the Pak-Afghan border with the people of both countries easily crossing the checkpoint without legal documents.

Officials of the political administration and other agencies are operating at Torkham to regulate movement at the border.

They said around 10,000 Pakistanis and Afghans crossed the border at Torkham daily.

Participants of the Thursday meeting decided that the National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) would develop software for and install hardware at the proposed terminal for regulating the people`s movement.

According to the sources, in the initial phase, the number of desks for issuance of special cards to facilitate travelers will be commensurate with daily work.

The Nadra will also look into thepossibility of using the software installed at Chaman crossing point in Balochistan to reduce the cost.

The Fata Development Authority will coordinate with the Nadra for provision of funds for it.

The meeting also decided that the Fata Development Authority would explore the possible avenues of resource generation particularly in the areas related to weighbridge, facilitation centre and servicefee.

The sources said the authority would coordinate with Nadra, Pakistan Customs Authority and Corps Headquarters, Peshawar.

They said the customs authority would coordinate with the Corps Headquarters and the agency`s political administration to ensure smooth execution of the project besides re-initiating the process of installing the Pakistan Revenue Automation Limited`s system of computerisation.