- COAS says mainstreaming FATA, KP imperative for peace, prosperity in region
- ‘Key dividend linked to mainstreaming of FATA in line with public sentiments’
- Imran Khan says he will discuss FATA’s status with army chief soon
RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa Wednesday said that mainstreaming Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and their merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) according to wishes of tribal people is ‘imperative’ for ‘peace and prosperity’ in the region.
Addressing the 210th Corps Commanders’ Conference at the General Headquarters (GHQ), the army chief said that “the stability and development efforts in FATA must trickle down dividends of peace to the public, while the control of cleared areas is being handed over to the civil administration.”
The COAS also stressed that the key dividend remains linked to mainstreaming of FATA in line with popular public sentiments, said the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a statement.
The statement of army chief comes in wake of a major rally staged by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) on Sunday. One of PTM’s demands is the restoration of routine life in FATA, which has been at the forefront of Pakistan’s fight against terrorism.
“The people of tribal areas should be given the same rights as the people of Lahore and Islamabad,” one of the organisers of the PTM protest had said on Sunday while demanding the provision of basic human rights to the people of tribal areas.
Other speakers had demanded that facilities such as hospitals, schools and colleges should be provided in FATA, and vowed to continue their demand for rights within the ambit of the constitution.
The conference also reviewed the evolving geo-strategic environment and security situation of the country.
The progress of ongoing Operation Raddul Fasaad and Khushal Balochistan programme was also discussed. The forum acknowledged contributions and sacrifices of all national stakeholders especially the resilient Pakistanis in rejecting terrorism and bringing about security stability in the country. It discussed lines of stability operations to carry forward the gains of successful kinetic operations, the ISPR said.
The forum concluded to continue efforts in support of state institutions which are taking Pakistan on a positive trajectory of peace, stability and prosperity.
On Tuesday, Pakistan Army handed over the administrative powers to the civil authorities in Dir following eradication of terrorism and restoration of peace after 10 years in the area.
The military had launched Operation Rah-e-Haq after it was called in by the ruling Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) in Malakand division in 2007, when the Taliban faction of Swat led by Mullah Fazlullah challenged the writ of the government. In 2009, another full-fledged military operation Rahe-e-Nijat was also launched in the area to battle militancy.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan backed PTM and its leader Manzoor Pashteen’s demands, promising to discuss them with the army chief soon and hold a detailed discussion with him about the status of FATA.
He said this while addressing a convention on FATA reforms at the Chief Minister (CM) House, Peshawar. On the occasion, the PTI chief said that he would discuss a three-point agenda with the army chief to finds ways to alleviate the sufferings of the tribal people.
The three-point agenda includes reducing the number of military check posts in the tribal areas, clearing the region of landmines and recovering all missing persons. “Many tribal people have been missing since years and their loved ones are clueless about their whereabouts,” Khan said.
He also said that his party would take immediate steps for the merger of FATA with KP after winning the upcoming general elections. “The miseries of the tribal people could be greatly reduced by the merger,” he added.
The PTI chief also promised that if his party wins the upcoming general elections, he would earmark Rs 100 billion for the development of the tribal areas. He also said that the journey of development would move forward per the aspirations of the people of FATA, adding that the tribal areas would be given equal rights and seats in the provincial assembly.
He further said that the PTI had constituted a FATA committee and its recommendation have been forwarded to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Reforms on FATA.
He pledged that within three to five months of winning the general elections, his party would hold local government elections in the tribal region.
Commenting on Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif, the PTI chief said that he had become a nightmare for the ousted prime minister. He further said, “Nawaz is not headed towards a dead end but to Adiala jail.”