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FIKAR Think Tank Unveils Vision for Pakistani Tribal Areas


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A gathering of intellectual minds convened under the Forum for Inquiry, Knowledge, and Review (FIKAR), a think tank project affiliated with the Pakistan Development Foundation, to engage in a comprehensive discussion on the developmental progress in the merged tribal areas.

This meeting, presided over by Lt. Gen. Retired Shaheen Mazhar Mahmood, former Corps Commander of Peshawar, brought together prominent figures to address the challenges and propose solutions for integrating historically marginalized regions into the mainstream. Here, we delve into the key insights and proposals shared during this significant gathering.


Integration of Tribal Areas


Gen. Shaheen emphasized the significance of the merger of tribal areas into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in 2018, highlighting its aim to integrate these regions into the national framework. However, he acknowledged the multifaceted challenges it brought and proposed solutions to overcome them.


Capacity Building for Governance


To address governance and administration issues, Gen. Shaheen proposed robust capacity-building programs for local administrators and civil servants. These programs aim to help them adapt to the provincial administrative system. He stressed the importance of establishing transparent and accountable mechanisms for the effective delivery of government services to ensure good governance.


Enhancing Security Mechanisms


In response to security concerns, Gen. Shaheen suggested strengthening law enforcement agencies in merged districts to combat militant groups effectively. He emphasized the need for enhanced intelligence-sharing and coordination with the Afghan government to address cross-border security challenges.


Economic Development Initiatives


To stimulate economic growth, Gen. Shaheen recommended promoting investments in key sectors like agriculture, tourism, and small-scale industries. These initiatives aim to create jobs and support entrepreneurship. Furthermore, he underscored the importance of providing training and support for job creation.


Infrastructure and Services Enhancement


Improving infrastructure and services is vital for the region’s development. Gen. Shaheen called for a comprehensive infrastructure development plan, including road construction and healthcare facility expansion. He emphasized the prioritization of education and healthcare, advocating for the construction of more schools and hospitals and training healthcare workers.


Land and Property Rights


Gen. Shaheen highlighted the need to establish clear land ownership records and mechanisms for dispute resolution. Land surveys and legal assistance for residents to secure their property rights were also deemed essential.


Social and Cultural Integration


Promoting social and cultural integration is crucial. Gen. Shaheen encouraged dialogue between traditional leaders and government officials to balance cultural customs with modern governance. Cultural exchange programs were proposed to foster mutual understanding and integration.


Political Representation and Awareness


To ensure fair representation, Gen. Shaheen suggested effective electoral processes that promote political participation and awareness among tribal communities. This ensures their voices are heard at provincial and national levels.


Economic Sustainability and Diversification


Addressing economic dependence, Gen. Shaheen stressed the importance of developing long-term sustainability plans. Diversifying revenue sources, attracting private sector investment, and promoting local industries were seen as key steps to reduce reliance on external funds.


Community Engagement and Collaboration


In conclusion, Gen. Shaheen emphasized the necessity of involving local communities in decision-making processes. He advocated for collaboration with civil society organizations and the implementation of regular assessments and feedback mechanisms to monitor progress.

The integration and development of historically marginalized regions require long-term commitment and collaboration among various stakeholders. Gen. Shaheen’s proposals serve as a roadmap toward achieving this vital goal.

Abu Bakr Alvi
Abu Bakr Alvi
Mr. Abu Bakr Alvi, Senior Journalist Based in Faisalabad

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