Nwly elected PM Shehbaz Sharif convened a grand Jirga in the tribal district of North Waziristan for the prioritisation of peace and development within the region. The engagement with tribal stakeholders is necessary to give valuable insight into what the prevailing issues are and how they can be resolved but more often than not, most government initiatives don’t get past this point. We have come to a point where such extensive discussions and bold promises must materialise as well so that larger problems of extremism, rural-to-urban migration and economic inequality can be resolved.

The main objective of the jirga was highlighted to be the restoration of long-lasting peace in North Waziristan which is especially in light of all the sacrifices made by the residents of the region for the country. Border clashes, shoot outs and violent attacks have been recurrent in the tribal district and countless innocent civilians have died as a result of such tragedies.

The situation becomes dire when we take into account that there are barely any developmental schemes under the phase of construction in the region, despite countless announcements of projects within the last few years. At the start of 2022 alone, the district was promised Rs.6 billion for developmental projects but there seems to be no updates as to which areas this project will target, what its objectives are and what strategy it will adopt. Meetings have been held to assert that ‘solid measures’ would be taken to ensure that the initiatives are completed within the given time but the discussions are too ambiguous to be relied on. Clearly, there is a lot to be desired from the authorities when it comes to uplifting North Waziristan.

Rapid progress is the need of the hour if such districts are to be brought up to the standards of the urban centres of the country. PM Shehbaz Sharif announced the construction of a new university, medical college, mobile hospital and a Danish school; while it is good to see that some particulars of the initiatives have been given, one can only show appreciation when it can be seen that practical steps are being taken to improve the socio-economic situation, problem of extremism and limited opportunities within the district.

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