Increase font size Decrease font size Reset font size

Economic uplift must to defeat militancy in Fata

Bureau Report 2013-11-29
PESHAWAR, Nov 28: Restoring peace in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas will be difficult to achieve unless economic disparities and administrative mismanagement are ended, a requisite for defeating militancy, according to the participants of a daylong consultative workshop held here on Thursday.

Participants emphasised the need for prudent policies to encourage the emergence of a new leadership and remove deprivations in Fata, which, they said, would help reclaim the space lost to militants.

The day-long `Pre-Development Budget (2014-15) Consultative Workshop`, organised by the Fata Secretariat was utilised as a rare opportunity by participantsinvolving over 180 students from the University of Peshawar to pinpoint issues hampering peace building and development in Fata.

`Our institutions have failed to address people`s needs and would fail in future as well if they did not take prudent measures, a student of the political science department at University of Peshawar, said while making a presentation on what should be done to improve infrastructure in Fata.

Another student from the university`s department of economics said the government should rename Fata as `problems` because official negligence and lack of proper planning had rendered it to be a place full of problems.

At the end of their group work, they recommended remedial measures for defeating militancy, spurring economic activities, revamping laws, strengthening institutions, reforming administration, and organising community in the tribal areas.

Senior functionaries of the Fata Secretariat listened to the students` spirited presentations and comments with patience and encouraged an interactive dialogue, promising to incorporate participants` feasible recommendations in Fata`s annual development plan for the next financial year.

The exercise was aimed at gathering recommendations from stakeholders for Fata`s development plan for the next fiscal, making the budget formulation a participatory process.

Appreciating the quality of recommendations put forth by the working groups, the Fata Planning and Development Department, Fata, Zahir Shah said every effort would be made to incorporate financially feasible recommendations in the new ADP.

`We would either arrange funds from our own resources or try to get some of the recommendations incorporated under our donors` programme,` said Mr Shah.

In addition to emphasising the need for dealing Fata at par with the rest of the settled parts of the country, it was also urged that army should be withdrawn from schools in Fata and political parties shouldbe allowed to play their due role in the tribal areas.

The group on `rule of law` recommended separation of judiciary from executive and the establishment of local government system on pure democratic lines, setting a system of accountability.

Pinpointing disparities in Fata, members of the group on improving infrastructure in the tribal areas said that help reached to Fata people in their internally displaced persons` camps and not to their far off villages.

`Health staff remains absent from the health facilities, there are a large number of ghost schools in Fata, and a number of schools damaged in the conflict have been left unattended, rendering students to get education with potential risks to their safety as the structures were dangerously dilapidated,` a participant.

They voiced concerns about the alleged involvement of parliamentarians in carrying out development projects in their constituencies concerned. `Parliamentarians` job is to make laws, they shall have no business with development activities,` said another student.

Presenting recommendations of the group on `agriculture and natural resources,` a participant said 80 per cent of the people of Fata were dependent on farming and naturalresources.

`But this sector is allocated only two per cent of the ADP resources,` he said, pointing out flaws in the development planning.

The group, involving a mix of functionaries and students, recommended development of market linkages, construction of farm to market roads, initiation of watershed management programmes, promotion of livestock sector, range management, reforestation, and the promotion of timber forest products.

Similarly, members of the `non-farm economic development` group asked for private sector development by making sustained investment in the industrial, mineral, and technical education sectors.

The group members also recommended the extension of banking laws to Fata to create an enabling environment in the tribal areas.

Responding to their recommendation, in his winding up speech the Fata planning and development secretary acknowledged the significance of the suggestion and said some of the banking laws had already been extended to Fata, while more were in the offing.He said the government was working on establishing Fata`s own investment bank in near future.

A feasibility study, he added, had already been carried out and further action would be initiated to implement the project.

Similarly, responding to some participants` recommendations to include activities in the next year`s ADP, either by declaring Fata a separate province or integrating it into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mr Shah said the government had so far extended 189 laws to the tribal areas as part of efforts to bring them in the mainstream.