Fast-track development of tribal areas

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THE people of tribal areas have rendered immense sacrifices for the sake of country’s peace and stability yet promises to bring them into national mainstream through sustained development remain unfulfilled. Despite merger of tribal districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, an initiative greatly supported by tribal people, process of development in those long neglected areas is slow and pathetic.
Chairing a meeting of KPK cabinet on Saturday, Prime Minister Imran Khan directed provincial government to pay due attention to development of tribal districts to end their sense of deprivation. Indeed these tribal people are loyal Pakistanis who always offered sacrifices for the country but at present feel great sense of anxiety due to tardy development process. PM Imran Khan has always supported tribal districts and before coming to power, he spoke highly about these areas and against deadly drone strikes. It is now time for him to translate his words into action by fast tracking reconstruction and development activities there. While Pakistan Army has done some commendable reconstruction and rehabilitation work in tribal districts with PTI government only distributing Sehat Insaaf Cards, a lot more needs to be done and indeed task is so gigantic that expecting KPK government doing it alone will be unfair. Federal as well as other provincial governments will have to come forward in a big way to genuinely bring these areas into the national mainstream.
Under the uplift plan of tribal districts, the government plans to spend one hundred billion rupees each year for next ten years. Now it is responsibility of all the provinces to contribute their share from the NFC in this development package. A mechanism also needs to be evolved to ensure full and transparent use of these funds in tribal areas. As regards PM’s assertion of providing job opportunities to tribal youth, it is important that special emphasis is given to their technical training so that they could grab job opportunities both at home and abroad. The tribal youth should be given Qarza-i-Hasana under Kamyaab Jawan programme in order to promote entrepreneurship and help them stand on their own feet. Local bodies elections should be held at the earliest in tribal areas so that their problems could be identified and addressed at the grassroots level. These areas are also rich in mineral and natural resources and their exploration by attracting investment can really prove to be beneficial for economic uplift of the whole country. To succeed in this endeavour, we will have to accept the ownership of tribal people on these resources.