Govt accused of ignoring NMTDs in uplift schemes

Lawmak­ers demand 3% share in NFC, contin­ue specia­l incent­ives for 10 years


PESHAWAR: Opposition lawmakers from the Newly Merged Tribal Districts (NMTDs) on Monday created massive hue and cry in the provincial assembly against the government for allegedly neglecting the tribal districts in its development programmes.

As the Khyber-Pakhtun­khwa (K-P) Assembly resumed on Monday, parliamentarians from NMTDs complained that the government, despite promising to develop the hitherto neglected tribal areas, has done nothing so far to this effect.

Speaking on a point of order, Awami National Party (ANP) lawmaker from Mohmand Nisar Khan said, “We are being constantly ignored in all uplift schemes while we are not being provided opportunities to even express ourselves on the floor of the assembly.”

He continued that they are being deprived of their legal rights in the assembly.

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The ANP lawmaker received support from other lawmakers from erstwhile federally administered tribal areas (Fata) who expressed their frustration with the government. They encircled the speaker’s chair and proceeded to tear copies of the day’s agenda to mark their protest.

The protesting lawmakers also chanted slogans against the government at which point other lawmakers from the opposition benches joined them.

The protesting MPAs also included members from the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP).

Despite the outcry in the assembly, the speaker pressed ahead with the agenda and moved to pass two bills –  the “K-P Government Rest House and Tourism Property (Development, Management and Regulation) Bill 2020,” and the “K-P Panaghah Bill 2020,” moved by Senior Minister Atif Khan. This, however, only enraged the protesting lawmakers.

The session was then adjourned until Tuesday.

Later, while speaking to the media outside the assembly hall, lawmakers from NMTDs said that their protest revolved around 12 points including the provision of three per cent share to the NMTDs from the National Finance Commission (NFC) award, a review of the recent amendments to the mines and minerals law, continuation of interim and special incentives package for 10 years, implementation of the recommendations made by the Sartaj Aziz Committee regarding the structure of levies and police force and other demands.

They said that the merged areas should be given a priority in development projects and added that all welfare organisations and donors working in NMTDs should be facilitated.

The lawmakers further demanded that the government form an advisory committee consisting of parliamentarians and technocrats to oversee the implementation of development and reforms in the ex-Fata areas.

They added that the 26th Constitutional Amendment, which has already been approved by the National Assembly (NA) should also be approved by the Senate.

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The government was further urged to carry out a fresh census in NMTDs as the people had rejected the results of the last census.

Further, they demanded that NMTDs should be given priority in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

The MPAs also demanded an annual Rs2 billion subsidy for NMTDs in the energy sector.

They put forward their demand for creating ease in commute for tribes living along the Durand Line and resolve the administrative issues of the Frontier Regions (FRs) keeping in view the geographical stretch, identification and other factors.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2020.

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