Merger of FATA with KP by Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi
Following is the press statement of former member of PTI Chairman Advisory Committee and Central Tarbiyati Council Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi on cabinet decision to merger FATA with KP province.
I would like to congratulate people of FATA for formally becoming part of Pakistan as cabinet has decided to merge it with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. Personally, I would have preferred a referendum so that people of FATA can decide whether they want to become a province or merge with KP. It was important because we have the tradition of a handful of elite making key decisions which later turns out to be a bad choice. But I am a strong proponent of mainstreaming of FATA and since no negative reaction has come against the merger with KP, I drop my objection and welcome this decision.
The next important phase is bringing FATA at par with rest of KP districts. I would like to share some concerns that I hope will be considered:
1. The capacity of KP bureaucracy is very low and because of that utilization of annual development funds have been very disappointing. Southern KP districts are some of the most backward in the country. Most of these districts border FATA region. It is important that best bureaucrats especially those belonging to FATA should be engaged in FATA Development Authority to ensure efficient implementation.
2. The quality of project management in KP is very bad resulting in low-quality construction as well as unfinished schools, colleges, and hospitals across the province. FATA Development Authority should develop project management expertise so that it could deliver on the development goals with quality, speed, and budgeted amount.
3. FATA is a deeply tribal society just like Balochistan. In tribal societies, Sardars can be an impediment to development. We have seen in Balochistan that 325 billion provided by Musharraf government were never utilized for people and went into the pockets of Sardars. This should not happen in FATA as it will result in a severe backlash.
4. People of FATA are highly enterprising as is evident from their involvement in trading and retailing in many settled districts of KP. The government should offer interest-free loans for the development of small to medium enterprise with an especial focus on youth. FATA economic development will be key to a smooth integration with KP so that it does not become a burden on the province.
5. Women empowerment will be key to developing a healthy and vibrant society in FATA especially to fight extremism and fundamentalism. Education of girl child, funding of women owned businesses, and prevention of domestic abuse should get special attention.