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PHC seeks centre’s response to ex-Fata funds plea

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PHC seeks centre’s response to ex-Fata funds plea

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday directed the prime minister’s principal secretary and federal finance secretary to respond to a petition seeking its orders for the federal and provincial governments to provide three per cent share in the National Finance Commission Award and Rs100 billion funds annually for the development of the merged tribal districts.

A bench consisting of Justice Roohul Amin Khan and Justice Wiqar Ahmad ordered the filing of those comments within a fortnight.

The order was issued following the preliminary hearing into a petition filed by the newly-formed Tehreek-i-Islahat Pakistan political party through its vice-chairman, Malik Habib Noor Orakzai.

The petitioner requested the court to direct the federal government to implement its decision made in the cabinet’s meeting on Oct 18, 2018, for the provision of three per cent share in the NFC Award for the development of tribal districts.

Petitioner calls for 3pc share in NFC Award

He also sought the court’s orders for four provincial governments to pay their respective part of three per cent share in the NFC Award and for the federal government to give away Rs100 billion annually for the purpose.

Mr Orakzai requested the court to declare that the tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are entitled to equal treatment and to provision of required resources for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of the people of those districts.

The respondents in the petition are the prime Minister through his principal secretary, federal government through finance secretary, and chief secretaries of the four provinces.

Lawyer Mohammad Muazzam Butt appeared for the petitioner and said the petition pertained to financial support for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), which were merged with KP province after the enactment of the Constitution (Twenty-Fifth Amendment) Act in 2018.

He said the prime minister had announced a one-year development package for tribal areas and committed to spending Rs100 billion annually on the development of those areas.

The lawyer said the federal cabinet, in a meeting chaired by the prime minister on Oct 18, 2018, had decided to provide three per cent share to the tribal districts under the NFC Award.

He contended that the 2021-22 federal budget didn’t honour those promises and ignored the federal cabinet’s decision on ex-Fata’s development funding.

Mr Butt said after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US, the erstwhile Fata suffered the most and the militants held the region hostage.

He added that the security forces had conducted five major military operations against militants along with numerous small ones since 2001 and they included the Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Al Mizan, Operation Zalzala, Operation Sher Dil, Rah-i-Haq, Rah-i-Rast and Rah-i-Nijat.

The lawyer said many drone strikes had taken place in those areas during the 2004-2017 period damaging public life and property.

He added that the people had to vacate houses and villages due to military operations against militants and that the operations caused a huge loss of property and houses to the people.

Mr Butt said the entire infrastructure of tribal districts required reconstruction for which funds were needed.

He contended that besides the federal government, the provinces were also under obligation to allocate three per cent share in the NFC Award and Rs100 billion annually for the development of tribal districts.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2021

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