ISLAMABAD - Pakistan must not treat Afghanistan as its province, Pakistan People’s Party said yesterday.

PPP leader Senator Farhatullah Babar said Pakistan must revisit its Afghan policy and treat it as a sovereign and independent country.

“Pakistan should not treat Afghanistan like one of its province as a precondition for success of social, political and economic reforms package for tribal areas,” he said while speaking at a symposium organised here by the federally Administrated Tribal Areas Research Centre.

Senator Babar said there can no peace and progress in tribal areas unless there is peace in Afghanistan as well. “There are several unanswered questions with regard to our Afghan policy that need to be answered,” he added.

About recently announced reforms package, he said its thrust was towards further militarisation of the area instead of de-militarisation.

The proposed 10-year developmental package costing nearly Rs800 billion must not be left entirely in the hands of civil-military bureaucracy and the elected people should also be involved ensuring accountability, transparency and oversight, he said. The civil-military bureaucracy is loath to civilian oversight and cannot be allowed to solely spend nearly Rs80 billion every year.

With Riwaj Act the province will have three sets of laws; for the districts, for provincially administered tribal areas and for the tribal areas, he said.

This tripod of multiple laws in multiple areas of the province is bound to be problematic, he said and called for close parliamentary scrutiny of the Riwaj Act.

Senator Babar also proposed that the levies force in tribal areas should be brought at par with the police and placed under the command of senior police officers instead of the political agent and military commander as at present.

According to the reforms package the levies strength will be increased to nearly 35 thousands from 12 thousands which is almost half of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police strength. “If tribal areas are to be merged in KP province in five years it is necessary to merge Levies in the police,” he said.