Nawaz meets Fata MNAs, discusses steps for peace

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif exchanges views with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Engineer Shaukatullah Khan during meeting at PM office in Islamabad on Wednesday, July 10, 2013
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held a meeting here on Wednesday with lawmakers from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and asked the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to contact the elders of various tribes to ascertain the help needed from the federal government so that the people of the region could live in peace.
“There have been meetings before. The previous government too kept saying it was very much concerned over the miserable condition of the people in Fata who for many years have been facing the brunt of the war against terrorism. However, unfortunately, nothing happened in the end,” Bismillah Khan, an independent member of the National Assembly, said after the meeting.
The prime minister, along with senior members of his government, patiently listened to the lawmakers.
The government plans to hold an all parties conference to evolve a national policy on militancy and security.
Talking to Dawn, Mr Khan said “we had a frank discussion” with the prime minister about problems faced by Fata’s people and their solutions.
“We all supported the government’s initiative to restore peace in Fata, but asked the prime minister to first listen to our people.”
After the meeting, the prime minister asked the governor, who was also present on the occasion, to get in touch with the elders of tribes and said he would continue to hold such meetings.
Bismillah Khan said the legislators had warned the government that half-hearted efforts like those made in the past would further destabilise the region and the government would have to make a sustained effort for concrete results.
Talking to Dawn, Qaisar Jamal, an MNA of the Tehreek-i-Insaf, said that for the outside world Fata was a monolith, but “we have a whole lot of people, following different ideals and facing various problems which can only be understood if you meet the local people”.
He said there was a trust deficit between the government and people of Fata, which over the years had aggravated because of the government’s “short-sighted policies”.
“The only way out is to sit with the local tribal elders, listen to them and implement their recommendations.”
Mr Jamal said the Bara market, the main centre of business in the region, had become a haunting place during the past five years because of continuous fighting, snatching away the only source of income for a large number of families. He said the displaced people of the region had yet to be rehabilitated in their villages and there was no functioning school and college.
The lawmaker said that if the government was interested in addressing the problems, it would have to get out of a ‘photo op’ mentality and build on this meeting, which “at best was a sort of orientation session for the new government about our problems in Fata”.

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