PESHAWAR: Women representatives from Pakistan’s tribal areas demanded the next local government elections in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) to be held under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government Act 2013 to ensure 33 per cent representation of women in the localgovernment. Samina Afridi, socio-political activist from Khyber Agency and a lecturer at Peshawar University said no concrete steps had been taken on the local or national level to resolve the problems faced by the women of the FATA. “Tribal women have the ability to lead and to address their issues but they have not been given any political representation,” said Afridi, adding, “Reserved seats for women in local bodies elections can empower tribal women and encourage them to become part of a local democratic process for the first time in FATA.” Afridi criticised the FATA Local Body Regulation 2012 as one having no privileges for tribal women: “We demand that the local government polls in FATA be held according to the KP Local Government Act 2013 instead of FATA Local Government Regulation 2012. She maintains that in KP law, 33 per cent seats have been reserved for women whereas the FATA regulation has no special provision to ensure women representation in the local government.” Aneeta Mehsud, who represents the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in the FATA Political Alliance, said in absence of proper and proportional representation of women in the local bodies elections, the development councils in FATA would only have male members propped up by the political administration, the FATA Secretariat, and FATA MNAs and senators. “FATA women would have little involvement in planning, execution and decision making about women issues related issues and services.” Mehsud said reserved seats would encourage women to participate in the local government elections. “In this way, FATA women will gain practical experience of participating in local governance,” she said, adding, “These seats will serve as nursery to create future women leadership in FATA.” Sakina Rehman, a member of the Takra Qabaili Khwendy (TQK) – an association of women activists and representatives from FATA – and a former councillor from Mohmand Agency said due to lack of political representation and activism in FATA, there was no platform for women to address problems faced by the women population in the tribal area. About her experience as a woman councillor from Bazai and Khwaizai tribes in the Mohmand Agency, elected in the first ever local bodies elections in FATA in 2002, she says: “I had no idea what exactly my responsibilities and role was as acouncillor of my Union Council. Women in local government were selected just to complete a quorum, not to deliver services or take part in decision making.” Rehman, said there were three women councillors selected by the Political Agent’s local Qaumi Jirga – a tribal assembly – from Mohmand Agency.She was one of them. Sakina explained that during her councillorship, her only job was to attend monthly meetings in the Political Administration office to mark attendance on papers. She said holding local bodies’ election under the KP law after the merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would be”rational” as election would take place under a well-established democratic process as seen in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. She said the special status of FATA had excluded the tribal population, particularly women, from the political and administrative setup. Human rights activists have been demanding local government elections on the basis of adult franchise where people could directly vote for representatives instead of their “selection” by the political administration. When asked, an official of the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to media that the FATA Local Government Regulation 2012 has been designedkeeping in view the tribal customary genealogy when it comes to delineatingthe constituencies.