June 5, 2021
By Arshad Mohmand
“My wife waited and waited to see justice for my son who was killed three years ago,” says Bakht Munir a resident of Mohmand district. “We never saw that justice, but my wife died waiting.”
Munir’s son Wajid Mohmand, the supervisor of a polio vaccination team in the district, was gunned down by a man who refused to administer anti-polio drops to his child. The killer has not been arrested even after three years. Many like Bakht had hoped for speedy justice after the merger of the erstwhile federally administered tribal areas (FATA) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province three years. The merger had extended cover of the Constitution to residents of the tribal districts.
But lawyers say there is a long way to go when it comes to improving judicial infrastructure and speeding up access to justice in the merged tribal districts of the province.
Rasheed Ahmed, president of the Mohmand Bar Association, said it will take time to increase the number of judges in courts as well as turning former Khasadar force personnel into trained law enforcement officials in the police stations across the tribal districts. “The shortage of judges and trained police officials are the two biggest obstacles to the dispensation of justice in the tribal districts,” says Rasheed Ahmed.
At the same time, local leaders complain about the lack of development work in these districts in the last three years.
“There has been no change since the merger as the infrastructure destroyed or damaged in anti-terrorism operations hasn’t been rebuilt or repaired,” says Arshad Bakhtiar, a local political leader in Mohmand.
Nangial Betni, a leader of the Pashtun Tuhaffaz Movement in the tribal districts, says the promises made to the people at the time of the merger have not been fulfilled.
Opposition member of the Provincial Assembly from North Waziristan, Mir Kalam Wazir points that the promise of allocation of three per cent share of the National Finance Commission award and annual development fund of Rs 100 billion at the time of the merger of tribal districts remains unfulfilled to this day.
“In the last three years, the annual development fund has not been completely utilized once in the tribal districts,” Wazir says. “The unutilised funds land back in the national treasury,” he adds.
Voicepk.net repeatedly tried to contact Provincial Law Minister Fazal Shakur and provincial government spokesperson Kamran Bangash to seek their stance on the difficulties hampering dispensation of justice and development work in the merged tribal districts but received no response from them.
Since the merger of tribal districts, the provincial government has claimed that its focus is on the development of the territory. However, local residents and opposition lawmakers dispute the government’s claims saying the ground realities have not much changed in the period.