The Merger is a historic opportunity to stabilise the Frontier Districts.
Over the last decade, the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas have experienced security challenges and large-scale population displacements. Since 2014, a combination of military operations and political reform process culminated in the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas into neighbouring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The merger, one of the most significant political reforms in Pakistan’s 70-year history, is an unprecedented extension of constitutional rights and governance structures to 5 million of the poorest people in Pakistan.
The mainstreaming of the Newly-Merged Districts and subdivisions is fraught with risks. The introduction of constitutional rights, elected local governments, land titling, the rule of law institutions, and empowered legislatures will fundamentally change the relationship between the citizen and the state.
The merger has raised significant public expectations. As such, any delay or mismanagement of the integration may create space for the formation of counternarratives against the integration process and contribute to instability.
What has the project already achieved?
While this project started in 2018, since 2015 UNDP has been the leading technical assistance provider to the reform and integration process.
- UNDP provided technical assistance to the Sartaj Aziz Committee on FATA Reforms through the establishment of a Strategic Support Unit (SSU) at Ministry of SAFRON.
- UNDP provided the Committee on FATA Reforms with the evidence base for informed decision-making on the critical reforms such as feasibility assessments of the proposed rule of law, administration, and local government.
- UNDP provided the cabinet and national assembly with legislative options for the merger, supporting the extension of the judiciary and the 25th Constitutional Amendment.
- UNDP provided high-level technical support to the provincial cabinet through the Strategic Support Unit in the KP Chief Minister’s office, as well as several integration support units as per demand at the Peshawar and District-level.
- UNDP promoted consensus on the reform agenda through extensive multi-stakeholder engagement with political leadership, civil society, experts, and youth activists. UNDP also channelled public feedback from focus groups, a hotline and media monitoring directly to the key decision-makers.
- UNDP supported civil society and youth participation in the reform process through dozens of civil society events, talk shows, TV documentaries, and social media campaigns.
- UNDP engaged a team of sectoral experts and leading economists to undertake a socio-economic planning process. The plan is slated to receive one trillion rupees over a decade.
- Training of key government officials to increase their capacity for reforms implementation
- Support for local government elections and strengthening of social service delivery.
- Public financial management reforms to support the transformation of district-level governance in the new seven districts.
- Deployment of key experts to the FATA Secretariat to support the ACS FATA in the reforms process and integration of FATA Secretariat into the KP government.
- Implementation of a socio-economic development plan and enhanced economic management through extension of the economic data regime.
- Public outreach and engagement with key stakeholders to inform, educate and manage expectations in support of a peaceful integration process.
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