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Border Markets to Boost Opportunities for Local Residents: Imran Khan

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo

Pakistan’s prime minister slams opposition parties for not focusing on development of rural areas

The establishment of border markets, recently approved by the federal cabinet, will provide employment and business opportunities to the people living along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday.

Addressing a gathering of local leaders in Mohmand, he said that his government’s ideology was in line with the Riyasat-e-Madina, adding that it was the state’s responsibility to uplift the weaker segments of society. He said the incumbent government would provide the maximum possible funds for the socioeconomic development of tribal areas, noting that the Planning Ministry had already been directed in this regard.

The prime minister said that it was unfortunate that tribal districts lagged behind urban areas due to lack of development funds, but vowed that his government would focus on establishing industries that could export goods to Afghanistan and central Asian states.

Criticizing opposition parties, Khan claimed the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz)—now out of power for over two years—had focused on central Punjab and ignored outlying areas because of their voting bank. Similarly, he said in a reference to the Pakistan Peoples Party, a party elected from interior Sindh had not done anything for Karachi. He claimed his government would focus on underdeveloped areas, adding provincial governments had promised to give 3 percent of the NFC Award to tribal areas prior to the 2018 general elections, but had since become reluctant to do so. “They must realize that Muslims always fulfill their promises,” he said, perhaps forgetting that he had earlier stated that the ‘u-turn’ was the hallmark of a great leader.

The prime minister lamented that the coronavirus pandemic had resulted in a reduction in revenue collection, but said efforts were underway to ensure funds for the development of Balochistan and tribal areas.

Referring to neighboring Afghanistan, Khan said that even though intra-Afghan peace talks had started, there were “spoilers” that wanted to hurt the process. He said these “foreign enemies” wanted to stoke anarchy and were also funding elements that opposed the merger of Pakistan’s tribal districts with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

He said that Pakistan had always prayed for the successful outcome of peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban, stressing that peace in the war-torn state would open new opportunities for the residents of the tribal districts.

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