PESHAWAR: The Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) on Monday questioned the alleged loopholes in the recent census report and delays in the merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), alleging that conspiracies were being hatched against the move.
The party staged a rally in the provincial capital on Monday. QWP provincial chief Sikandar Hayat Sherpao led the protesters who were holding party flags, along with placards and banners inscribed with slogans demanding the merger of Fata with K-P and against the census report.
Sherpao claimed that ‘conspiracies’ were being hitched against the merger but vowed to foil any such attempt.
Demanding that the merger should take place before the 2018 general elections, he warned that any delays would lead to protests in all the tribal agencies while residents of Fata would be mobilised to march towards the federal capital for their rights. “Those who are opposing the merger are not loyal with Fata or its people,” said Sherpao. He also dismissed any short term arrangements, terming them as divisive to the issues facing the region.
The protesters added that tribals of Fata were victims of terrorism and backwardness which had adversely impacted their socioeconomic conditions.
“They [residents of Fata] have no representation in either the provincial assembly or local bodies where they can raise their voice for rights and are subjected to British-era draconian laws which need to abolish now,” he said, noting that it was imperative for residents of Fata to freely elect their representatives in the upcoming general elections.
The QWP leaders also rejected the interim census report, especially observations about the population of K-P and the tribal areas, which QWP believes has been shown to be less than it actually is.
“The federal government has to rectify the mistakes in the interim census report,” Sherpao demanded.
“It has reduced the population of tribal areas, as well that of K-P.”
He added that the QWP had expressed its reservations over the head counting exercise right from the beginning, lodging its protest when the relevant staff was gathering data on plain paper with pencils.
“Undermining of the population of the tribal areas is a sheer injustice which would deprive them of their share of state resources.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 12th, 2017.