ISLAMABAD - Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz said yesterday that the federal government has taken solid steps to bring the merged tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at par with other parts of the country.

Addressing a news conference here on the completion of one year of provincial assembly elections in the merged tribal areas, he said the extension of the courts’ jurisdiction to the merged districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will make easy the provision of justice to the people. He said that 28,000 Levies and Khasadars have been merged into police, adding the FATA Secretariat has been abolished so that the provincial government could establish its governance system.

Senator Shibli Faraz said that the history’s biggest fund amounting to 100 billion rupees annually was announced for the merged districts for ten years and all provinces pledged to give their share in 3 per cent of National Finance Commission Award, agreed for this purpose. Unfortunately Sindh province had not so far committed its share for the development of tribal areas, he added.

He also said that the PTI government’s flagship program Sehat Insaf Card has been introduced, offering the locals of the merged tribal areas free health facilities. The minister further said that 1297 posts have been created in health sector while 4495 posts have been created for education. He said that projects have been launched to provide clean drinking water at schools. He said several schools have been provided buses.

He said a Mining Act has been enforced in the merged tribal areas to tap the mineral resources of the area in a transparent manner. Shibli Faraz said that mainstreaming of the erstwhile FATA is a long-term project, and the government is committed to continue its efforts for it.

Replying to a question, the minister said that erstwhile FATA is located with the Pak-Afghan border; therefore, we cannot compromise on security of the area. He said that the role played by the armed forces in the tribal areas is commendable. He said that participation of the general public in general elections shows that majority of the population is happy with this change.