Friday, September 11, 2009

Fata MNAs to discuss blocking of funds with president, PM

 Fata MNAs to discuss blocking of funds with president, PM
Friday, September 11, 2009
By By Mumtaz Alvi
ISLAMABAD: A delegation of legislators from Fata will meet President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani today (Friday) to discuss with the top leadership the ongoing siege of Kurram Agency and blocking of annual funds for the tribal belt.

"Yes, the two major items to be deliberated upon during the meeting will be the blockade of Parachinar-Peshawar Road and withholding of 2009-10 budgetary allocations for Fata," a lawmaker from the tribal areas, told this correspondent.

On the issue of Fata budget, Additional Chief Secretary of Fata Habibullah Khan Khattak has been summoned to Islamabad, who will be part of a meeting with Minister for Finance Shaukat Tarin earlier in the day.

When contacted on telephone, Munir Khan Orakzai, who heads the Fata MNAs group in the National Assembly, said the allocation for the tribal belt for the year 2009-10 was over Rs 12 billion, but not a single penny had been released in the first quarter.

He said he brought this to the notice of the finance minister, who at first was not prepared to believe it but then agreed to ensure release of funds as early as possible. The lawmaker pointed out the last year's Rs2 billion, which the government had promised to release in the first week of January this year, was not provided to the Fata administration. Last year, the cut on Fata funds was 30 percent, he noted.

Meanwhile, a regular helicopter service will be started between Peshawar and Kurram Agency within a week to facilitate travellers. Taking notice of a news item, published in The News on Thursday, Interior Minister Rehman Malik invited Azmat Ali for a meeting. Some of the Fata MNAs were also present on the occasion.

Azmat had announced self-immolation on September 11 in Islamabad to protest the indifference of the government towards the plight of people of Kurram Agency, particularly Parachinar, Alizai and adjoining locations.

The man from Parachinar had come to Islamabad after many people donated cash to him to press the government for the resolution of the problems they were facing. However, the religious scholars, both Sunnis and Shias, had requested him not to self-immolate.

The minister assured the visitors of every possible assistance in efforts to restore lasting peace in Kurram Agency and striking of a fresh peace deal between the elders of the two rival sides. Talking to this correspondent, Azmat said he was quite enacouraged by the assurances held out by the minister and he asked NWFP Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani to play his role in ending miseries of the people of Parachinar.




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