Catching up they are
That the tribal districts, now formally part of Pakistan, have not fallen off the map is laudable. The prime minister Friday visited the area and the launched its flagship health scheme for the tribal people assuring them of further allocations for improvement in education and health infrastructure, creation of employment opportunities for the region’s youth, building the Mohmand Dam and investment in the tourism industry. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa cabinet, last month, held a symbolic meeting in Landi Kotal and approved Rs24 billion worth of annual development projects.
The provinces of Punjab and KP have agreed to contribute 3 per cent of their shares from the National Finance Commission to support the region. The PM urged the other two provinces – Sindh and Balochistan – to follow the course to help the region where businesses and other means of earning of many people were destroyed.
On the political front, the Election Commission of Pakistan announced the share of seats for each district for the provincial assembly elections. According to the share, Bajaur and Khyber will have three seats each, Mohmand, Kurram, North and South Waziristan will have two seats each and one seat each will go to the Orakzai and the Frontier Regions. The elections for 16 general seats to the KP Assembly shall take place in the next couple of months.
As for the judicial reforms, 28 judicial officers have started functioning from makeshift arrangements in the adjoining districts. In the past, these judicial powers were exercised by the administrative officers under the Frontier Constabulary Rule.
It is just the beginning of a long journey to bring people of an impoverished region, long ravaged by war, at par with the settled parts of the country. People of the region are brave, sturdy, and the region itself has potential in agricultural, energy production, mines, agriculture and trans-boundary trade as well as tourism.
Now that peace has limped back to it through countless sacrifices by civilians and law enforcement agencies, the government shall be well advised to not lose the initiative.