ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain on Monday said Pakistan is determined to meet its security challenges in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and is deploying every possible mean including dialogue with the militants for peace and stability.
Addressing a conference titled ‘FATA – In the shadow of the military pullout from Afghanistan’, the President said the FATA had been gravely affected by the decade-old war in Afghanistan.
The conference was organized by Institute of Strategic Studies (ISSI) and the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIS) at the ISSI centre here.
President Mamnoon said it was important to understand that the US-ISAF drawdown from Afghanistan would bring new challenges in the FATA region as well as the whole tribal belt at large.
“We need to give greater attention towards this region for ensuring lasting peace, stability and development,” he said.
The President said stable conditions of peace and security in the country and the region were the pre-requisite for progress and development of the country. He said the aim of the government of Pakistan’s policy on Afghanistan is to promote peace and stability there.
He said a Sustainable Development Plan for FATA had been devised which provides a coherent framework to address the basic needs and problems of FATA and its people.
He said the government had allocated funds for various projects that aimed at bringing qualitative improvement in the lives of the tribal people.
President Mamnoon said the ongoing development programmes for the tribal areas largely focuses on education, health, clean drinking water, electricity through solar energy, agriculture, forestry, irrigation and technical training.
He said the projects would guarantee a new era of economic and social prosperity for the people of tribal areas.
He said FATA has no dearth of hard-working and talented young people and given the opportunity, they can rise to the highest ranks in all walks of life.
He said the government was making every possible effort to generate economic opportunities especially for the youth of the tribal areas and stressed the need for greater international cooperation in this regard.
President Mamnoon said a FATA Youth Commission was being setup to create synergy, harmony and increased coordination in programs of various institutions.
He said the main function of this commission would be to give impetus to harmonious implementation to the Youth Policy, monitor performance and provide overall guidance on youth policy and initiatives.
He stressed that drone attacks promote pro-conflict ideology, inflow of well-armed militants from the Afghan conflict importing extremist ideologies and practices. The insurgency is sustained from a variety of domestic and international financial sources, he added.
He said for decades after independence, FATA was a peaceful region of Pakistan, however it began to witness changes with the revolution in Afghanistan in 1978 as refugees and armed Afghans began to move into FATA and beyond into Khyber Pukhtunkhwa,
Balochistan and Punjab.
He termed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 and subsequent conflict in Afghanistan bringing negative consequences for FATA, resulting in inflows of Afghan refugees, the illegal transfer of weapons, and the evolution of drug trade.
President Mamnoon said the government is fully aware of the issues being faced by the people of the tribal areas and is undertaking every possible effort to address those issues.
He said appreciating the invaluable contributions and sacrifices of FATA’s brave people, the Government of Pakistan accords highest priority towards the socio-economic development and the uplift of the people of FATA.
He said the government was committed to follow policies and reforms to help the people of FATA. General Ehsan ul Haq, former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee in his keynote speech said after the 9/11, Pakistan witnessed serious corrosion of tribal leadership system in FATA and dilution of the cultural ethos of Pashtunwali due to presence of
He said Pakistan showed strong resolve by carrying out various military operations in the area and achieved its objectives by containing extremism in six out of seven agencies of FATA where normalcy was resumed.
The former militaryman said that he believed that military operation was not the solution to the problem and ultimately all such issues are settled through political and peace agreements.
He stressed that peace agreements should be done if requested by the extremists only and not by the government. He called for a national policy framework for FATA based on
educational reforms, effective governance and mainsstreaming of its people.
He said presence of military forces in the area can help facilitate the development process.
Director General ISSI, Rasul Bakhsh Rais said the conference would provide the scholars to deliberate upon the fallout of military withdrawal from Afghanistan, the ways to discuss the policy-relevant research based on scientific studies and to invoke national security thinking.
Mona Kanwal Sheikh of Danish Institute for International Studies said prolong isolation, neglect and low literacy rate contributed to the plight of FATA. She said it was very important to bring FATA at political agenda in view of the military pullout from
Ambassador Khalid Mehmood, Chairman Board of Governors ISSI in his welcome address said FATA needed to be brought at par with other developed parts of the country.
The conference was attended by researchers and academicians.