ISLAMABAD - The senate standing committee on States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) has expressed serious concern over the closure of the flour mills in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and recommended the government to restore the subsidy for flour mills in FATA as soon as possible.

The committee, chaired by Senator Hilalur Rehman, also criticises the tyrannical behaviour of the political agents towards the residents of the tribal areas and proposed the government to formulate new rules and regulations for the political agents, so the misuse of power could be stopped. The committee observed that the style of working of the political agent is highly regrettable.

Senator Rehman said that in the entire tribal areas the behaviour of the political agents with the local people is inappropriate and inhumane. Political agents are using their authority like monarchs and put innocent people, with minor things, in prison, he said. He said that discriminatory treatment with FATA will not be tolerated. Senator Saleh Shah said that the flour mills are closed for the past so many years and people are facing problems. Senator Aurangzeb Khan said that it is being planned to kill the people of FATA with hunger. Instead of providing subsidy, expensive wheat is being provided to FATA, he said.

The committee chairman said that the provision of subsidy is the responsibility of the federal government and depriving the people of FATA from this facility is injustice. Officials of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa food department briefed the committee on the issue of subsidy and said that million rupees are liable to be paid by FATA for the food subsidy.  Senate body recommended that government should restore the subsidy for flour mills in FATA as soon as possible because public was facing problems. FATA Development Authority (FDA) Chief Executive Fida Muhammad Wazir, while briefing the committee regarding the developmental schemes in FATA, said that over 5,000 posts were vacant in various sectors in FATA.

Wazir said that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor has already approved filling of posts but so far they were waiting for the reply of Finance Division. He further informed the Senate body that in different areas of FATA, schools and hospitals were facing shortage of staff and people were facing the problem. The committee asked the officials of Finance Division to present the report about sanction of new posts to the senate committee within three weeks.

Senator Taj Muhammad Afridi said that people were facing problems due to bureaucratic hurdles and lack of coordination among FATA Secretariat, Finance Division and Ministry of SAFRON. Officials of the Establishment Division assured the senate body that pending issues of 180 employees would be resolved within three weeks. Wazir said that Zao small dam in Khyber Agency, Jabba Dam in Khyber Agency, Walay Kalay Bazar Zakha Khel irrigation and water supply schemes have been completed. Fata Development Authority has trained around 6,000 youth from all agencies in different trades since 2011 to 2016, he added. He said that due to the small dam schemes 120,000 acres of land would be irrigated within one year.

The meeting was attended by Senators Muhammad Saleh Shah, Aurangzeb Khan, Taj Muhammad Afridi, Haji Momin Khan Afridi, Sajjad Hussain Turi, Ahmed Hassan, Khanzada Khan, Sitara Ayaz, officials of Ministry of SAFRON and FATA Secretariat.