The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions was held on Wednesday at Parliament House Islamabad.
Chaired by Senator Hidayat Ullah the meeting was attended by Senator Sania Nishtar, Senator Bahramand Khan Tangi, Senator Danesh Kumar, Senator Dost Muhammad Khan, Senator Gurdeep Singh and senior officers from the Ministry of State & Frontier Regions, Home Department Khyber Pakhtunkhwa along with all concerned.
The agenda entailed Point of Public Importance raised by Senator Hidayat Ullah regarding issues in merged districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and anticipated refugee influx from Afghanistan.
The matter pertaining to compensations and commitments announced by the Federal Government and allocations of 3 percent of the divisible pool NFC to finance the special development of merged districts was deferred due to lack of information at the Ministry’s end. The Committee showed displeasure of the absence of the representatives of the Finance Ministry and said that discussion on the subject would be futile without their input.
The Committee was informed that a ten-year development plan was formulated after thorough consultations. Under this ten year plan, a three-year AIP program has been devised to fund development projects in merged areas. Accelerated Implementation Program (AIP) which is a three year program under the tribal decade strategy has entered into its third year of implementation. Under this program so far, 219 schemes have been approved falling over 24 sectors. In ADP MA 828 schemes have been approved falling over 28 sectors. Till date an amount of PKR 57 Billion was released which has been utilized. Similarly under ADP MA an amount of PKR 56.7 Billion was released in three years which has been utilized. Members of the Committee remained unconvinced by the figures and directed that the Finance Ministry must be present in the next meeting and a breakup of expenditure verified by the Accountant General must be submitted to the Committee.
Regarding rehabilitation of TDPs the Committee was of the view that projects on which money is being spent cannot be termed part of the immediate rehabilitation. It seemed that priority was being given to long term projects instead. The Committee stressed the need for the Relief Rehabilitation and Settlement Department must be Ministry to focus more on the immediate needs of TDPs in the context of resettling them in their homes and ensuring food and sustenance for them.
The Committee showed dissatisfaction on the merger status of Levies and Khasadar Force of FATA into Khyber Pakhtunkhawa Police; especially in relation to non-issuance of police cards. Discussing the arrest of police constable of merged area by the police of settled area in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the Committee showed displeasure on inaction and said that it will write to IG Police Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on this matter.
Members stressed that in order for rehabilitation and development matters to be expedited in erstwhile FATA; establishment of a separate secretariat, headed by an Additional Chief Secretary was crucial.
Taking up the matter of refugee influx from Afghanistan and the magnanimous costs involved, the Committee was informed that Pakistan will not accept a refugee surge from across the border. However, the humanitarian aspect of the situation cannot be ignored. There is a possibility of an international appeal to host displaced Afghans. The Committee while keeping in view all aspects of the situation opined strongly that even if Pakistan is compelled to host refugees from Afghanistan, keeping them confined to the camps was essential to control the law and order situation and local resources.