ISLAMABAD - A parliamentary committee Thursday expressed concerns over increase in problems of the erstwhile FATA people after the region’s merger into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

FATA was merged into KP but no new system was introduced which has multiplied problems of the residents, said Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi while talking in the meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Reforms. The committee meeting was presided over by Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani.

Muhammad Afridi said that there is no system of land registration in the new setup of FATA. He demanded that patwar circles should be established in the area so the powerful should not occupy the land of the poor.

Ironically instead of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government official, the committee was briefed by the former secretary defunct FATA Secretariat. The government of KP has yet to merge the employees of defunct FATA secretariat into the provincial departments.

Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani deplored that people of FATA are still struggling to get access to better health and education facilities and there is dire need to prioritize both these sectors in planning and development agenda to alleviate miseries of the area which has historically struggled against different odds and social menaces.

He said that different projects are slow paced due to non-availability of funds. He further said that   there is need to chalk out a vibrant master plan for Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to ensure speedy and complete rehabilitation of the area.

Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani called for completing process for merger of FATA into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as early as possible.

Briefing the committee regarding agenda of working and performance of FATA secretariat for last 10 years, Secretary FATA secretariat informed the committee that delay in completion of process was not on part of FATA secretariat but it was responsibility of the federal government to expedite the process.

Senator Usman Kakar said that the merger of FATA into KP has multiplied people’s problems. Kakar said that people from FATA are facing health and education problems.

He proposed that a subcommittee be constituted to visit all the agencies of erstwhile FATA and give the recommendations to the Senate Standing Committee on Planning. Senator Kakar further said that the roads network in the area was not up to the mark and the government should enhance the road network to boost tourism in the area.

The FATA secretariat secretary said a project of 800km expressway from Zhob to Bajuar was at feasibility stage and it was hoped that by June this year, the feasibility report would be finalised.

The committee directed the ministry of planning to include this project in its Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2019-20. The chairman committee said that senators like MNAs should be taken on board in the project proposal formulation process.

The meeting was informed that a motorway project from Peshawar to Torkhum was also in the pipeline which after completion would help promoting tourism in the area.

It further said that in order to boost tourism sector, as many as eight state-of-the-art rest houses were also under construction and would be completed within a year.

Senator Mirza Afridi said a number of investors were keen to establish new industries in Bara however the FATA secretariat was not cooperating them in this regard.

The secretary informed that main issue of the area was non-availability of electricity in the area and up-gradation of existing grid station in the area had been approved.

Secretary Planning Zafar Hassan informed the committee that Mohmand Marble City located in FATA had been made part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which would enjoy all perks and privileges allocated for other Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in rest of the country. He said the government would allow five years income tax exemptions and zero duty on import of machinery to all investors besides allowing 100 percent repatriation of profit for foreign investors.

The meeting was informed that at present there were 5,942 education institutions in the area in which around 35,000 people were employed. The committee directed all the vacant position in the health and education sectors should be filled at the earliest to enable the institutions to have proper work force for smooth working.

The chairman committee recommended to fill the vacant posts in education department in FATA. He also directed the FATA Secretariat to submit a detailed report on FATA healthcare and education situation.

The meeting was attended by senators Kauda Baber, Dr Asad Ashraf, Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar, Hidayat Ullah, Mirza Muhammad Afridi, Momin Khan Afridi and along with senior officers from ministry.