[Dawn 22 April, 2019]

PESHAWAR: A multiparty conference has demanded of the government to withdraw army troops from the merged districts of former Fata and empower police and Levies to maintain law and order situation in the area. The participants of the conference alleged that federal and provincial governments had started pre-poll rigging in the seven tribal districts ahead of elections for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly. They asked the government to either take army troops back to barracks or deploy them along the border.

The conference convened by Jamaat-i-Islami here on Sunday demanded of the Election Commission of Pakistan to take notice of the pre-poll rigging in the area. The conference demanded announcement of election schedule and one/third representation for defunct Fata in the provincial cabinet.

Awami National Party, Pakistan Peoples Party, Quami Watan Party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, lawyers and civil society groups attended the moot held at JI’s secretariat. A joint declaration issued in the concluding session of the conference asked ECP to announce election schedule immediately.

In a related development, another conference titled “Fata merger, issues and solutions” was arranged by Pakhtunkhwa Jamhoori Ittehad (PJI) in Nishtar Hall here on Sunday.

The joint declaration issued by the multiparty conference said that Imran Khan was the prime minister of Pakistan and not of a particular party. It said that the way he was holding public meetings in the merged districts under the banner of PTI and government security would influence election results.

“Therefore ECP should take notice of the visits of the prime minister to merged districts,” it said. The conference said that federal cabinet had abolished ministry of state and frontier regions in its second meeting, despite that state minister for Safron was appointed.

The MPC asked the government to regularise personnel of Levies and Khassadar forces and give them proper training, equipment and incentives. It said that government should fill 30,000 vacancies and recruit local people on the vacant posts.

The declaration said that the government should open all notified checkposts in tribal districts for bilateral trade with Afghanistan and revenue generated from those checkposts should be spent on the development of those areas.