PESHAWAR - Calling for efforts to bring the tribal people into mainstream politics, Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) Chairman Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao on Sunday said his party would raise its voice for the rights of the Pakhtuns in general and the tribesmen in particular.

Addressing a well-attended gathering at Watan Kor here, he said the Pakhtuns have been exposed to host of problems.

On the occasion, scores of tribesmen from Mohmand Agency led by Malik Tahir Akbar announced joining the QWP.  Some of the tribesmen who spoke at the event reposed confidence in the leadership of Aftab Sherpao and hoped he would help resolve the problems that the tribal people were facing.

Aftab Sherpao said the tribesmen were loyal to Pakistan and they had always rendered sacrifices for the country. He said the internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the tribespersons, including women, should be treated with respect.

“The tribal people are as loyal to the country as anybody else,” he declared, asking the ruling elite to change their mindset to address their grievances.

“We will not abandon the tribal people. They have never showed any resentment despite facing untold miseries over the last 10 years,” he remarked. He stressed the need for forging unity among the Pakhtuns to bring an end to their woes. About the status of the FATA, he said it was the right of the tribal people to make a decision about their future. “The tribesmen are the real stakeholders so that they should be taken into confidence and consulted before making any decision about the status of the tribal areas,” he maintained.

Turning to the situation in Karachi, he said that across the board action should be taken against all the criminals irrespective of their political affiliations.

“We back the action that the Rangers and the law-enforcing agencies are taking to maintain law and order and restore peace in the port city,” he added. He said that extortionists, kidnappers and target killers were calling the shots in Karachi, which was the economic hub of the country. He said the Pakhtuns had played a key role in the development of Karachi so the law-abiding and peace-loving people should not be made to suffer.