Grand Qaumi Jirga formed to highlight, resolve issues of Dir
Staff Reporter Lower Dir
In order to draw the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government’s attention towards the grievances of over 2.5 million population of Dir Lower and Dir Upper, the Dir Grand Qaumi Jirga has been formed with a single point agenda i.e. development of the area.
This was announced at a press conference held at Akhunkhail House in Lower Dir attended by the members of the National Press Club (NPC).
The NPC delegation headed by former President of the club Shakil Qarar was visiting the area on the invitation of the Convener of the Dir Grand Qaumi Jirga and Founder and President of the Dir Overseas Pakistanis Association (DOPA), Rahim Shah Akhunkhail.
It was told at the press conference that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) successive governments have failed to address the problems of infrastructure, health, education and employment of the people of Dir districts (Lower and Upper) and now the Grand Qaumi Jirga has taken the matter in its hand and would do all it could to make it possible.
Dir District, an area with 5,400 sq km and 2.4 million population, is the largest district in KP, according to the 2017 census.
Rahim Shah Akhunkhail said by “development” of the area, he meant a complete package: Promotion of tourism, Establishment of colleges, universities, Establishment of Dir Development Authority (DDA) and Dir Tourism Development Authority (DTDA), Exploration of minerals as the region is rich in minerals (and their local ownership), Supply of natural gas, Power projects, in short all those elements that make a society, a livable and lovable place.
He further said the majority of the people of Dir worked overseas and according to a rough estimate, they sent Rs 350 billion foreign remittances annually back home.
In return for such a huge amount, the people of Dir do not even enjoy the basic facilities of life, like a good hospital, road or schools, etc.
The situation is so bad that in primary school, 48 out 100 children drop out, he said according to a KP education department report from 2016-2017.
The dropout ratio worsens further to 75 out of 100 by the time a student reaches grade-10 in schools per an estimate.
Who is responsible for this poor education ratio at schools and loss of their future, asked Rahim Shah Akhunkhail.
The parents of these dropped out children are working hard as labourers in Middle Eastern (ME) countries sending remittances to Pakistan so the country’s economy flourishes.
These children are basically orphans having fathers abroad. It’s the responsibility of the state to take care of the basic needs of these “Orphan “ children- said Rahim Shah Akhunkhail.
In Tormang Union Council I and II there is neither college for boys or a secondary school for girls, so is the situation in the Upper Dir.
About tourism, it was highlighted that there were 20 to 25 tourism spots identified time and again by the DOPA and the local elders but the government had not done anything to develop them in order to attract tourists.
There is a tree more than 600 years old, relics of Buddhist era, stupas, rocks of ancient times but for lack of infrastructure, absence of road and basic facilities, these sites are hidden from the local and international tourists’ eyes.
Malik Behram, an ex-MPA of KP Assembly from Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), said peace had returned to Dir but not prosperity.
It was a grand assembly of the elders of Dir Upper and Dir Lower, a mix of all parties including the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), JI, PML-N), Awami National Party (ANP) and the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
“We are here not to indulge in political differences or pin-pointing one another’s flaws, we are here to give one voice and to make it clear that people of Dir can no longer be denied their right to a respectable life, said Rahim Shah Akhunkhail while replying to a question.