PESHAWAR: Days after the parliaments — in Islamabad and Peshawar — voted for a constitutional amendment which would merge the tribal areas with the settled areas, tribal elders and merger activists have praised the role of the Chief of Army Staff, Peshawar Corps Commander and the army for turning their dream into reality.
“Although the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) merger became possible due to joints efforts, the role of Pakistan Army is equally important and praiseworthy like that of the political or civilian people. We the people of Fata remain thankful to Army chief and Pakistan army,” said Arshad Afridi, leader of the Fata Youth Jirga.
“The government was not serious in implementing the recommendations of Sartaj Aziz committee on Fata reforms as it could not go against the wishes of Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Mehmood Khan Achakzai,” Afridi explained, adding that the government delayed the implementation of the committee and the merger was kept suspended.
It was the army which came forward and played its role in pushing the government and made it realise the dire consequences of further delaying the merger, Afridi said.
“The last meeting the Fata reforms implementation commission was stretched as the government wanted to end it without any decision, but the army chief resisted and pushed the government to take a decision which resulted in the passing of the bills,” the Fata Youth Jirga leader said, adding that after the army’s role the political parties including the Pakistan People Party and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) helped the government in passing the bills from the Senate and the provincial assembly of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
Shahabuddin Khan, a national assembly member from Bajaur, also hailed the role the army had played and extended his gratitude to the chief of the armed forces and the Peshawar Corps Commander.
“The role of Pakistan Army should be appreciated as without their active role the merger would not be possible,” Shahabuddin said, adding that their 22-year-long struggle became fruitful with the Fata merger.
“Earlier, it was propagated that the establishment was against the merger. But interest taken by the incumbent army chief in the merger and becoming part of the Fata reforms implementation commission negated all those notions regarding the role of the establishment,” he said, adding that the sacrifices rendered by the armed forces for peace and reforms in the tribal belt are known to all and should be praised.
Fata Islahat Tehreek founder Nizamuddin Khan also thanked the army for the catalyst role it played in the merger.
“Bringing peace in Fata was the first step for the reforms and the army conducted operations for taking that first step. After the operations and sacrifices laid in the operations, the army needed proper administrative setup which could be handed over and the present political administration setup was not capable of the transition which is why army was in favour the merger,” he explained, adding that the army chief took personal interest in the merger which made it possible.
“It was Pakistan army who served as a catalyst in giving practical shape to the consensus present in the country regarding the FATA merger,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2018.