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After his swearing in as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa\'s governor, Sardar Mehtab Khan Abbasi\'s talk with the journalists gives a strong sense that he has a clear idea of his gubernatorial responsibilities and what lays ahead for him to work on actually. Maybe for his intimate knowledge of officialdom\'s inner-workings in the area for his stint as once the province\'s chief minister, he seems to understand fully that the job of KP governor is inherently different from the other provinces\'. There the gubernatorial position is basically ceremonial for the most part.

But since KP governor doubles up as the federal government\'s representative in the province and as the man on the spot of the president who constitutionally is exclusively responsible for the governance of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), his role is at once ceremonial as well as functional. It is akin to counterparts\' role as far as the province is concerned. But when it comes to the tribal areas, it is functional, and effectively and incisively so. And from his media talk, it is evident he knows it is primarily the tribal region that he has to focus on.

In this regard, the priorities he has briefly spoken out tell that his sights are right. But it is where he in effect will be tested in the times ahead. He is dead right that this crucially strategically-located tribal region has been neglected and ignored all through the decades since our independence. Over the period, the region had in fact been kept largely dismissed by the officialdoms as some sort of a Wild West, not amenable to modernity and development and unfit to be brought up to suck into the national mainstream. So much so, for years it was kept denied of even some such basic services as healthcare, leave alone such desired things as schools and colleges, and such-like bigger necessities as roads, bridges, and telecommunications.

Indeed, none out there in the centre ever thought of giving some modern means of living and livelihood to the residents of the region. From one to all they were castigated by the snotty officialdom berthed vaingloriously in the presidential mansions and imposing central secretariats with one brush as trigger-happy wild people given innately to violence and bloodletting, compulsive smugglers and avaricious protectors of fugitives from the mainland. None over there was ever ready to show the populace of the region the humane face of the state and its kind hand of development, advancement and progress. None cared to explore and exploit the enormous natural wealth the region is gifted richly believably. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto showed himself a bit of an exception. He did launch into an effort to develop the region economically. But he too lost the interest too quickly. And the region\'s wealth, which if exploited could have given a huge uplift to the region and its people, lies to-date largely untapped.

Had indeed the region not been treated so shabbily, the conditions surely would not have been as daunting and scary as those obtain now. The economic development of the region would have inevitably led up to the social emancipation of its people. The development of its social sectors would have naturally ended up in the spread of mass enlightenment, liberalism and modernity, closing the doors to conservatism, extremism and fanaticism that have combined up to largely give birth to militancy and terrorism now blighting the region itself as much as the mainland.

Given this, the new governor has thus a huge work cut out for him to do. Not only has he to make up for the wrongs done to the region and its people in the past. He has to face up to gigantic challenges thrown up by militancy and terrorism, much of it native-based. This surely would call all in him to contend with. But the task will though be painstaking, but hopeless it is not even now. He has set the sights right. Only he has now to get going. Surely, to give a total overhaul to a creaking FATA secretariat has to be a priority. For, his no plan or action, no matter how spectacular or grand, would give the dividends if he has not an efficient, competent and delivering bureaucratic backup at his command.

And this backup too would remain inadequate and incomplete if the field political administration in the tribal agencies doesn\'t receive a big shake-up to throw out the dead wood, the corrupt, and the inefficient. But what should be his immediate priority is to tend to the internally-displaced people of the tribal areas. By every definition, they indeed are orphans, with no patrons or kind hearts to care for them. The FATA bureaucracy has shunned them like black plague. The KP administration avoids them as much. The private philanthropy is also lukewarm to them. And the federal authority in Islamabad seems to have obliterated them from its mind just forgetfully. This has really set in a worrisome alienation of the tribal people with the Pakistani State, alarmingly.

Yet none seems a wee bit bothered at all as much in the officialdom as in the political establishment about this worrisome phenomenon. Governor Abbasi has thus rightly set the tribal IDPs as a matter of his primary concern. His sights are right. And it is now to be seen how he goes about them. Nonetheless, the whole of his schema would run dry if he doesn\'t move in quickly to get the tribal region into the national mainstream with its upgradation as a province which it merits by every canon.
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Publication:Frontier Post (Peshawar, Pakistan)
Date:Apr 17, 2014
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