The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government Monday called a high-level meeting with international development partners to review progress made in the merged areas and discussed the development vision moving forward. The inaugurated session of the event titled “Merged Areas Development Partners” was termed the first in a series of interactions aimed to share the vision of the KP government which sought technical support and expertise in devising the second phase of Accelerated Implement Programme (AIP). In his opening remarks, KP Minister for Health and Finance Taimur Jhagra said the presence of half of the cabinet members signifies the importance of this event regarding development of the MA. “The region has witnessed seven decades of neglect. We have seen how the lack of investment has led to consequences for the people and the area. There is a need to continue to introduce game-changing interventions and fast-track initiatives through innovative solutions,” he said. He said at the time of the merger in 2018, the KP government took the massive challenge of transforming the MA and bring it on a par with the rest of the province with the 10-year Tribal Decade Strategy, whose Phase-I of the AIP was concluding soon. Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Pakistan Mr. Suh Sangpya, diplomats from Germany and Qatar, and Canadian High Commission participated the session. Amongst others, representatives from United Nations Development Programme, Pakistan Resident Representative Knut Ostby, delegation of European Union and World Bank were also present on the occasion. In addition, provincial ministers and senators also took part in the session. On the occasion, KP Additional Chief Secretary, Shahab Ali Shah shared his experience of serving the MA in various capacities saying, “I have lived with the people of MA during the insurgency, and the subsequent military operations that led to their temporary displacement. And then I witnessed them returning to their homes that were razed to the ground. Their suffering and tragedy require us to fulfil our commitments to them.” “They were caught in an international conflict. It is high time that we give back to these people and stabilize the region,” he said. Shedding light on the progress made in the MA in the last three years, Shah said a total of 327 schemes were proposed as part of AIP-I and MA Annual Development Plan (ADP), out of which 209 were currently ongoing while 33 other were in the pipeline. Around Rs 60 billion had been spent on the socio-economic uplift of the region so far, he informed. In addition, the KP government had distributed Rs one billion under the Insaf Rozgar Scheme. In his concluding remarks, the KP ACS said, “We are cognizant of the expectations of the people and challenges that stand in our way… People want equity and parity with the rest of the country. We firmly believe that developing the MA will ensure security for the region no matter how tumultuous developments may become.” FCDO Director Ms. Annabel Gerry said, “We are at a critical junction now, and need to preserve the stability and build on the progress already made to build a momentum in our development efforts.” “We remain committed to help the provincial government in supporting innovations in health, education, gender equality and infrastructure development,” she remarked. USAID KP Director Xerses Sidhwa appreciated the KP government’s commitment towards the MA saying, “We value our partnership with the KP government and look forward to see how we can be of more use in AIP-II.” Country Director, World Bank, Najy Benhassine also pledged his support for the provincial government in boosting the health, education and other aspects of the social sector while Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education, Shahram Khan Tarakai, and Resident Representative UNDP, Knut Ostby also spoke on the occasion.