ISLAMABAD: The government will announce a special development package for the militancy-scarred tribal areas in the budget for the next financial year 2010-11, starting from July 1 this year.
This was announced by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani at a meeting with parliamentarians from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) here on Tuesday. The special package for the development of Fata will be similar to the ones the government had already announced for other backward areas such as Larkana, southern Punjab and Balochistan, said a statement issued by the premier’s secretariat. Gilani, however, did not give the volume or size of the package to be unveiled in the budget.
It was also not clear whether the amount specified would be used through the parliamentarians from the region or some official agencies. Gilani also announced the construction of a Fata house in Islamabad which will have small section of secretariat to improve coordination of developmental activities in the region. Currently, the volatile region is controlled by a Fata secretariat that works under the president and the governor of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
The prime minister said that in connection with the preparation of the new budget, he wanted to consult and seek views of Senators and MNAs from Fata for the coming financial year. It is also intended, he said, to evaluate the ongoing development work in the region and fix priorities for the future. The objective of the exercise is to eliminate poverty, underdevelopment and illiteracy. In the same context, he mentioned that the government plans to enhance educational and health facilities for the people of Fata.
The premier said that the people of Fata and Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa have made great sacrifices for the country and shown courage and strength to resist terrorism and extremism. Their support and contribution, he added, is duly recognised and would always be remembered by the entire nation. The MNAs and Senators from the region also gave their suggestions during the meeting and asked the prime minister to focus on education and healthcare facilities for the people there. They demanded that the government build separate medical and engineering colleges for the students of Fata.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 19th, 2010.