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Tribal leaders attend Grand Jirga Iftar to celebrate Fata Merger bill

GHALANAI: Tribal elders, political leaders and media representatives united in the political compound at Ghalanai Headquarters of Mohmand agency on the invitation of Political Agent Mohmand agency and commandant Mohmand rifles to celebrate the historic KP and Fata merger here on Friday.

At least 200 prominent elders, leaders and members of civil society participated in the Iftar.

Speaking on the occasion, Commandant Mohmand Rifles Colonel Arfan Ali congratulated the elders on the formal launch of the reform process in Fata. He cited the sacrifices rendered by the military and the proud tribal people in attaining sustainable peace in the region. He emphasized the need for the translation of this peace dividend into an all-encompassing prosperity for the tribal belt and Mohmand Agency.

Political Agent Mohmand Wasif Saeed felicitated the participants and stated that it was a blessing that this historical event of merging FATA into KP took place in the holy month of Ramazan. He said that the tribal people and military had rendered countless sacrifices especially over the last 18 years.

Read More: ECC approves several tax exemptions for Fata, Pata people

“Times had changed and now it was not possible to usher prosperity in Fata without introducing institutional and legal reform,” said Saeed. The PA Mohmand said that tradition and transition will go in tandem to ensure that the peace dividend ushers in an area of prosperity and plenty for the whole of Fata and Mohmand Agency.

He conveyed that transition will take place phase-wise and the people, tribal elders and civil society in Fata will be part of the consultative process.

He added that Mohmand agency will have a share of at least Rs14 billion in the Rs100 billion Per Year Socio Economic Development plan for successive 10 years.

This funding will be in addition to Fata Annual Development Program funding, donor funding for the agency and any special program funding earmarked for the agency, Wasif Saeed told.

It was elaborated that setting up local government system in Fata was the corner stone of mainstreaming of Fata, he added.

The political agent said the local government elections were planned to be held in October and as indicated 40 percent of the funding of socio economic development plan was to be utilized by local bodies. This translated roughly as 5 to 6 billion rupees.

“This means that through local representatives the people of FATA will no more be dependent on the office of PA/DC, FATA secretariat, civil secretariat Peshawar or the federal government for localized development” he said.

Wasif said that the local representatives will decide, plan and execute localized development for themselves and by themselves.

He invited the attention of the audience to the fact that due to staffing issues health and educational facilities remain nonfunctional despite physical completion.

The fact that thousands of SNES (Schedule for New expenditure) lay pending and hence we see that service delivery structures were rudimentary or not functioning optimally in FATA Wasif Saeed said. After the provincial and local government structures staffing issues will be resolved.

He said that Fata will have representation not only in parliament but also members in the provincial assembly. They will be best ambassadors for the tribal people and shall champion the cause of the tribal people much more effectively, efficiently and swiftly.

He said that only yesterday the Economic Coordination Committee announced tax exemptions and other incentives for FATA and PATA for the next five years alone. He assured the tribal elders that the incentives, perks and privileges enjoyed by the tribes and elders will be honored and shall not only stay intact but increased in various ways.

It was added that Levis and Khasadar force will also be improved and strengthened by introducing structural and administrative reforms.

He cited the disparity in salaries and fringe benefits enjoyed by the counterparts in police force. He said that soon the Levis force will also enjoy the same remunerations and benefits.

Speaking of the various initiatives undertaken in the agency in the last two months when the PA took charge of Office such as the abolition of 40 taxes from the agency development fund, establishing price control committees at tehsil levels, controlling the outspread of leishmaniasis (skin ulcer) , decommissioning many of the check posts from checking duties on Bajaur Peshawar highway, restoration of the cellular networks in Mohmand Agency and also instituting the initiation of corporate social responsibility by the multi nationals and big businesses going on in the Mohmand Agency . He referred to them as a prelude to the formal introduction of FATA Reforms in Mohmand Agency.

He thanked the commandant Mohmand Rifles Colonel Arfan Ali for his unflinching support in undertaking these initiatives. He also thanked the IG FC North Major General Waseem Ashraf for guidance and support in undertaking the above mentioned initiatives.

He conveyed that reportedly the incidence of cancer especially among children was high in the agency. Therefore the administration was compiling a data base of cancer affected patients and that soon an institutionalized treatment and facilitation of the patients was to be carried out by setting up linkages with Cancer treatment institutes and organizations across the country. For this purpose funds were to be committed out of the agency finances and also leading stakeholders from the mineral sector and mobile network providers were to be requested to contribute.

The PA Mohmand concluded by congratulating all those in attendance and reiterated that Fata reforms will lead to a greater inclusiveness, devolution of power to the grass root, better transparency, sustainable development and provision of fundamental rights to the proud inhabitants of Fata and people of Mohmand in Particular. At the end he conveyed a collective vote of thanks to the civil and military leadership on FATA’s merger with KP.

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