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Development of tribal areas

Umar Farooq

This writer is a Senior Journalist And Analyst

The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) has started propaganda that no efforts are being done for the development of tribal areas. These accusations are completely baseless, made on ill intentions and contrary to the reality on the ground.

Whether it’s Balochistan or the tribal areas, these nationalist and separatist groups under a well-conceived conspiracy want to worsen the situation and create obstacles in the development of the region. They realise that if these areas are developed then their narrative and propaganda will be over and the youth will be not be swayed towards them. These are an impediment in the region’s progress and are instead placing the blame on security agencies.

These anti-state elements want to weaken the nation from within and are making efforts to create a sense of insecurity and insecurity among foreign investors.

From their safe hideouts in Europe and United States, these elements are hatching conspiracies against Pakistan and giving the impression that they are fighting for the rights of their people.

They claim to be raising a voice in the UN and other global forums but the naive people of the remote underprivileged areas do not realise that development projects in their area are halted due to these actions as investors pull out due an atmosphere or uncertainty while the locals suffer the most and national institutes are also severely affected.

It is surprising that while PTM workers are decrying that no development funds have been released for the tribal areas, PTM MNA Mohsin Dawar did not pay a single penny of tax in 2018. Such individuals have no right to criticise the state when they have no contribution toward it. We have already exposed the propaganda by Baloch separatists regarding the development budget. We need to understand whether there is any injustice with the merged tribal areas or the PTM just wants to achieve its objectives.

The government allocated Rs152 billion for the merged tribal areas under a three-year programme while 131 out of 265 schemes have approved. The government allocated Rs240 million for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) out of which Rs140 million have issued. In Mohmand, a scheme for solar tubewells and Gravity-based Drinking Water Supply Scheme (DWSS) worth Rs201 million was approved in 2019. There are similar projects worth Rs421 million in the tribal areas.

After the merger of the tribal districts, it was decided that these areas should be given funds for the development of the region, return of the IDPs to their homes, provision of employment to youth and improvement in law and order situation.  This year the government has allocated Rs32.5 billion for the return of IDPs, Rs32.5 billion for security, and Rs48 billion for development projects.

The PTI government claims to have brought economic stability but it has impacted the tribal areas. The funds for return of IDPs have been halved, while a large chunk of the funds for relief and rehabilitation have been allocated for security purposes.

National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence recently toured South Waziristan and the Torkham border. MNA Ramesh Kumar, who was part of the delegation, said that it unfortunate that due to our negligence and conspiracies of outsiders, this beautiful area appears like a foreign land and became a safe haven for terrorists.

The army and law-enforcement agencies have initiated 14 operations including Zarb-e-Azab and Radd-ul-Fasaad to clear the area leaving to loss of nearly 4000 lives and immense sacrifices. Today the area has better roads and two-thirds of the projects are for infrastructure development.

The people of the region and the government are on the same page regarding the merged tribal districts. The border has been fenced to stop the movement of terrorists from Afghanistan. The local now desire to conduct business and meet their family members and hence, efforts should be made to facilitate them.

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