ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan has warned the government of protest if it did not immediately decide to merge the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“We demand the government to decide by Monday [to merge Fata with KP]. If they did not take a decision by Monday, we will give a call to the people of tribal areas to come to Islamabad [for staging a protest],” he announced on Saturday.

Addressing the Fata Youth Convention at the Jinnah Convention Centre here, PTI chairman expressed his optimism that the other three provinces would sacrifice for the sake of the Fata people in terms of their share in the federal divisible pool.

Khan said there should be 33 Fata seats in KP Assembly in the 2018 elections.

He proposed that the Fata Secretariat, which, he said had become a source of corruption and exploitation of the people, must be disbanded forthwith and its functions reverted back to KP government, as was the case before 2005.

The gathering also passed a declaration, which urged the federal government to immediately start the integration process of Fata with KP as per the wishes of the people of the tribal belt.

The declaration further said that the federal government and the provinces must commit resources for initiation of the 10-Year Development Plan by allocating three percent of the federal divisible pool on an annual basis, so that Fata could be brought at par with the rest of the country.

According to PTI, only Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has conveyed its agreement to the federal government to deduct its share of funds for the purpose.

KP chief minister will lead the campaign for persuading the other three provinces and the federal government to agree on the three percent allocation, as per the declaration.

The federal government should immediately start the process of allowing the people of Fata to elect their representatives to KP Assembly in the general elections 2018, the declaration said.

The government of KP has already expressed its commitment to accommodate the representatives of Fata in the provincial assembly, it said.

The declaration called for abolishing the Frontier Crime Regulation, and extending all the laws of Pakistan in a phased manner under a given timeframe to Fata.

The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the Peshawar High Court should be extended to Fata so that the people of the tribal areas are able to enjoy the same rights as enjoyed by their fellow citizens in other parts of the country, it said.

The local government elections should be held before the next general elections to empower the people at the grass-roots level, the declaration said. The local government law of KP should be adopted to ensure uniformity of system, it further stressed.

The declaration said that the permit system whereby the poor people of Fata were “illegally taxed” by the administration, was a major source of corruption, and should be immediately done away with.

The mineral wealth of the Fata should be explored and utilised for the welfare of the people of the tribal areas, it underscored.

The government of KP would immediately constitute a taskforce under the provincial chief secretary to coordinate with the federal government and prepare the province for integration with the Fata, the declaration underlined.

Khan in his speech also criticised JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman for his role pertaining to the Fata-KP merger.

He underlined the need for reconstruction and development of the tribal areas. That, he maintained, was not possible without the merger.

“This is high time for the merger. Fata representatives should be part of KP Assembly,” he said. The merger would help bring the tribal areas into the mainstream, he added.

Khan said the tribal area already had a very developed local government system in the shape of jirga.

“We developed dispute resolution system in KP. And, so far 17,000 cases have been resolved under the DRCs. There should be 33 seats of Fata in KP Assembly in 2018 elections and all the development funds should be disbursed through the local governments,” PTI chairman said, and added there would be no development in Fata until the merger.

Recalling the history, Khan said the tribal areas decided to become part of Pakistan and there should be no doubt about their loyalty with the country.

“Instead of development and education for the [people of the] tribal areas, successive governments in Pakistan did not recognise Fata as part of the country. And, even today 72 percent of Fata population is living below the poverty line,” PTI chairman said.

 Imran assails Shehbaz

 INP adds: PTI chief Imran Khan on Saturday slammed Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif for playing down the Supreme Court’s criticism of the provincial government for not taking measures to ensure no damage is caused to heritage sites by the Orange Line Metro Train project.

In a statement on his twitter account, the PTI chief said Shehbaz has forgotten to mention the Supreme Court’s restrictions and criticism in respect of the OLMT project in judgment on the issue, especially the scathing critique of how environment and heritage sites’ preservation was overlooked and these must be taken into consideration.

In another tweet, he said that all the Sharifs were interested in was ostentatious showcase of projects for election campaign and fat commissions from these projects that they could siphon off into overseas accounts.

“The question that arises is how a Rs200 billion project was undertaken without a proper feasibility study regarding impact on environment and our historic sites? Simple answer is Sharifs have no concern for environment or history,” he said.

 

Merge Fata into KP or face protest, warns Imran