In a meeting of Senate Committee on Development and reforms, it has come to the fore that efforts to bring the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) at par with the rest of the country will take years. However, that is understandable. What is beyond comprehension is the fact that the government lacks proper planning and roadmap in this regard. How can one expect that the desired results from merging it with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) can be achieved if the state has no strategy? The lack of planning and chalking out a right direction to overcome the disparities in the region is not only creating confusion but also the leading cause of an increase in inefficiency in the performance of the government machinery in the area.

Though the principal rationale for mainstreaming FATA was to uplift the region politically and socio-economically, however, instead of reducing the gaps in these sectors the government’s lethargic attitude is, in fact, further restricting the areas to be at par with the rest of the country. The standing committee finds the lack of funds as one of the biggest hurdles in realising the dream of mainstreaming the region. It is not just giving political representation to the people that can be called mainstreaming of an area. Mainstreaming also means the provision of infrastructure and economic opportunities to a region. The combination of the two opportunities means real integration. The result of the two then leads to the social uplift of an area.

Facilities like road networks, hospitals, schools, industrial zones are to name few requirements that the state will improve in these areas. All these facilities are of utmost importance for the development of any region. So far, the state has not come up with any scheme that outlines a detailed plan regarding removing the obstacles that are not allowing the tribal region to catch up with the rest of the country. The government needs to take up radical measures to improve the socio-economic indicators and to reduce the incidence of poverty that stands at 73 % – the highest in the country, as one recent report on “Multidimensional Poverty” issued by the Planning Commission of Pakistan states.

It is the need of the hour that the federal government, as well as that of the KP, look into the matter. Mere amendment to the constitution to merge the tribal belt will never bring the most impoverished region at par with the rest of the country. The state will have to allocate enough resources to this belt if it is really sincere in making a positive change in the lives of the tribal people.