UPPER DIR: Traders from Malakand will be joining the business community in Lower Dir, Upper Dir and Swat in its protest against the federal government’s decision to strip Malakand Division of its status as a tax-free zone.
“We will not pay any taxes no matter what,” said Malakand traders union president Haji Hakeem Khan in a meeting held in the Upper Dir district headquarters. Officials from trader unions in Swat, Lower Dir, Upper Dir, Buner and Chitral were also present at the meeting.
Hakeem said all seven districts of the division were badly affected by militancy and floods. “Stripping the division of its tax-free zone status would plunge the region further into poverty,” he said.
“If the government wants to generate revenue, it should launch projects that improve the quality of life,” added Hakeem. He also called out the politicians for having a lavish lifestyle while the common man is “fleeced of his hard-earned money”. The general secretary of the union, Khalid Iqbal, said people have yet to recover from the destruction caused by militancy and floods. “Tourists still fear to visit the scenic valleys,” he said, adding the tourism and fishing industries still need to be revived.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2015.