ISLAMABAD – Experts in a seminar at the Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad, stressed that the inhabitants of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) should be made stakeholders in the process of the infrastructure development initiatives in the region as part of the post-insurgency rehabilitation efforts.
The event titled ‘Development Initiatives in FATA:Infrastructure and Beyond’ was chaired by senior IPS associate Air Commodore (r) Khalid Iqbal. It was addressed, among others, by DG-IPS Khalid Rahman, Brigadier Shahid Hasan Ali, commander Frontier Works Organization (FWO) Engineers’ Group, Dr. Fakhrul Islam, Director, Pakistan Study Center, University of Peshawar, Ambassador (r) Ayaz Wazir and Brigadier (r) Said Nazir.
Reflecting upon various development projects and initiatives taken by FWO in the region, Brig. Shahid Ali said that more than 550 kilometers of road has been constructed in FATA, which is more than the length of Lahore-Islamabad motorway. Even promising was the construction of central trade corridor, which starts from Dera Ismail Khan, passes through the heart of FATA, and connects to Afghanistan through Wana.
Indicating the significance of other projects in the area, he said that while the completion of Gomal Zam Dam has benefitted the agriculture sector in the districts of Tank and Dera Ismail Khan, the electricity generated from the dam will also be provided exclusively to the households of South Waziristan.
The speaker also detailed the on-going efforts of FWO in repairing the damaged electricity structure in the area, as well as the completion of Wana grid station for the purpose.
Discussing various development initiatives in FATA, Brig (r) Said Nazir stressed on the maintenance and upkeep of the projects with the participation of local population. He urged the authorities to develop on urgent basis a master plan for the reconstruction of hospitals, schools, universities, and economic activities the generation of more employment opportunities.
Dr. Fakhrul Islam stressed on more engagement, involvement and participation of FATA citizens in the regional development initiatives and also advised to carry out the social audit as well as the EIA (Economic Impact Assessment) for these projects.
Ajmal Khan Wazir, an MNA from FATA , commended the development initiatives of FWO in the area, stating that since vast majority of FATA inhabitants were linked with trade and transport industries, the development of local infrastructure, especially high quality roads, was vital for the rehabilitation of the area . He supported his argument with the case of Tank-Wana road construction, which has not only reduced the distances, but also provided new trade opportunities for the locals.