US to help FATA stand on its feet, says envoy


-Want to help KP in multiple sectors including local government, health, education, tourism, agriculture and industrialisation, says US ambassador.
-Task force working for tourism boom in KP

PESHAWAR:  United States (US) Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Paul Jones in a meeting in Peshawar on Wednesday assured all-out support for the newly merged districts of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

He said this while discussing matters of mutual interest during a meeting with Governor Shah Farman and Chief Minister (CM) Mahmood Khan at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat in the city. The US ambassador was accompanied by US Consul General Jonathan Shrier whereas, Additional Chief Secretary Shehzad Bangash, Principal Secretary to CM Muhammad Israr and head of strategic Support Unit Sahibzada Saeed were also present on the occasion.

Furthermore, Ambassador Jones while discussing political, economic, and security issues in KP including the newly merged tribal districts underscored the United States’ continued commitment towards regional prosperity and security and expressed his government’s desire to work with Pakistan towards the fulfillment of common goals.

KP CM Mahmood Khan said that the people of Malakand division and especially those of Swat have passed through a difficult phase of history facing both manmade and natural calamities. “It was the worst of all terrorism-hit areas. Security forces and the government’s policies brought peace back to this area and now trade and commercial activity has restored there. However the security forces and local residents have sacrificed heavily in their struggle to defeat terrorism,” he stated.

Speaking about the FATA merger and the working of two different task forces at federal and provincial levels for this purpose he said that the area needs helps in basic facilities of life.

“The merger of new districts of erstwhile FATA is a challenging task because of no infrastructure and lack of social services in these districts.  It is our priority to give relief to the people of new districts, lay down the infrastructure on emergency basis and provide them help from the international community in order to facilitate the merger in letter and spirit”, he said.

The CM also highlighted his government’s steps for mainstreaming the people of new districts, adding that the facility of a Sehat Insaf Card will be extended to all of the poor population of the newly merged districts. “This is not an easy task and we need support from all directions,” he told the US ambassador.

Furthermore, he said that his country is interested in helping out the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in multiple sectors with a special focus on local government, health, education and social sectors.

Discussing the issues of mutual interest and cooperation, the US Ambassador also showed his keenness to help out KP with special focus on newly merged districts in different sectors that included local government, health, education and social sectors. He also took interest in tourism, agriculture and industrialisation and appreciated the potentiality of tourism in Swat.

CM Mahmood Khan apprised him that his government has already formed a task force to develop pre-identified sites and discover new sites with the potential to be explored on tourism lines in Swat, Chitral, Malakand, Hazara etc.

“Pakistan is an agrarian country and our government wants to promote the diversified crops multiplication approach for enhancing productivity in the agriculture sector. New technology along with different methods are being adopted for this purpose,” he said.

Referring to the investment and industrialisation in the province, CM Mahmood enumerated the steps taken for attracting investors and industrialists under the provincial industrial policy.

“Work on the investment policy is going on while the mineral policy and youth policy have already been framed. There is a board of investment, a special economic zone development and management body for the establishment of industrial zones throughout the province,” he said adding that the provincial government is also working on removing irritants and making the whole system simple and transparent.

The chief minister also dwelt over the issue of Afghan refugees staying in KP at length and the services and facilities being extended to them on humanitarian grounds.

The US ambassador appreciated the reforms and different policies for industrialisation, tourism and social services besides, the provincial government’s efforts for removing problems in the grant of no objection certificate (NOC) to foreign dignitaries reiterated his resolve for all-out support for the newly merged districts of FATA.