Zarb-i-Azb to be Completed by Year End: Minister

The government believes that the Zarb-i-Azb operation will be completed by the end of the year and after that a ‘mini-Marshall plan’ will be launched for socio-economic progress of the people of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

Abdul Qadir Baloch

“The era of the Taliban or terrorists will end in Fata and there will be complete peace in the entire tribal areas by the end of this year,” Minister for Safron and Frontier Regions retired Lt-Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch told Media on Sunday. Mr Baloch said he could say this only about cleansing Fata of terrorists and not about other parts of the country. He said Fata was no more a stronghold of the Taliban where they committed acts of terrorism, produced and smuggled narcotic drugs and indulged in gun-running and kidnapping for ransom. The government would launch a comprehensive plan for development activities after restoration of peace in Fata.

“The plan is so big that we call it a mini-Marshall Plan,” he added. The plan will be launched on the pattern of the European Recovery Programme for which the United States gave $17 billion after the Second World War. The Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations, Maj Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, said a few days ago that terrorists had controlled vast areas in North and South Waziristan agencies, but now the army had pushed them to a small pocket in the Pak-Afghan border area. Meanwhile, President Mamnoon Hussain removed legal hitches to pave the way for development in Fata and approved two summaries on Saturday under which economic zones will be established and trade will be promoted in the region. An official announcement said: “On a summary initiated by the States and Frontier Regions Division, President Mamnoon Hussain has approved the Prime Minister’s advice for extension of Special Economic Zones Act, 2012 and Trade Organisation Act, 2013 to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.” 

The minister said the development plan envisaged setting up industries and factories in tribal areas. “Once the Taliban era ends, we will provide employment, health, education and trade facilities to the people of tribal areas so that they earn a better living and do not allow terrorism to re-emerge there,” he said. The SEZ Act, 2012, gives the business and trading community several incentives, including exemption from customs duties and taxes on all capital goods imported for the development, operations and maintenance of a SEZ; exemption from all taxes on income accruable in relation to the development and operations of the SEZ for 10 years from the date when the development agreement took effect. -dawn