The merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) seems to have been put on the backburner. The government had announced a reform package to ‘bring FATA into the mainstream’ by doing away with the ancient tribal laws prevalent in the area and merging the tribal region with KP, but certain political leaders of KP raised hue and cry over not being consulted.
Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazl ur Rehman and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) leader Mahmood Khan Achakzai did their best to delay the implementation of the proposed package by saying the government did not fulfil the promises made with them in this regard - and they succeeded. The National Assembly session last month in which the reforms package was introduced had to be adjourned without any progress on the package. One of the MNAs representing FATA was not even allowed by the speaker to speak on the reforms. The JUI-F and PKMAP are clearly trying to protect their own interest while ignoring the interest of FATA’s people and the PML-N is being blackmailed by them. The electoral policies of the politicians of KP have always hindered development in FATA. This should stop now.
Under the package, the government-proposed ‘Rewaj Act’ will replace the draconian Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) that has been in place for over hundred years and granted unusual authority to the political agents who misuse the powers and embezzle the development funds in the tribal region. The law was enforced during the British rule to counter opposition of the Pakhtun community to the British rule and it is about time this black law is abolished.
FATA cannot be mainstreamed before it is merged with KP. The word ‘mainstream’ has always been used by the authorities to delay the merger, which is a longstanding demand of the people of FATA. The political leaders who don’t want to make it happen are denying the people of FATA their rights and should be boycotted.
According to number of surveys conducted by various organisations over the years, majority of the locals want FATA’s merger with KP. We cannot let them be silenced anymore. If the people of FATA continue to be deprived of their due rights, the consolidation phase of military operation will be affected. Government should implement the reforms package and ignore those creating unnecessary distractions.*