ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party former senator Farhatullah Babar on Thursday said the Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa should have full powers to amend the interim system of administration in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) as well as the Action in Aid of Civil Power Regulation 2011 after elections early next year of new Members of Provincial Assembly from tribal districts as a consequence of the merger under the 25th Constitutional Amendment. He was speaking at a seminar on FATA Integration – Challenges at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute. The seminar was also addressed by Senator Nauman Wazir, Member of National Assembly Munir Aurakzai, Senator Afrasiab Khattak and others. He said that the reluctant bureaucracy seems to have played by inserting clause 52 in the regulation stating, “The provisions of this regulation shall remain in force until complete merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The merger is a process. A ‘complete merger’ implies extending all laws, judicial offices, benches of High Court, local governments and levies into police force etc.” Under 52, the Provincial Assembly will not be able to make any changes for the next two decades. Instead the clause should read that “it shall continue to remain in force until altered, repealed or amended by an act of the Provincial Assembly of KP”. That is why the absence of visible progress to hold elections to the additional provincial assembly seats from tribal districts raised concerns. He said the hurried and thoughtless manner in which the 25th Amendment was pushed through in the wake of protest movement launched by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement also raised questions. He said that on May 18, the National Security Committee first decided to merge FATA with the province and not the cabinet. A few days later on May 22, the cabinet meeting endorsed it saying also that a Constitutional Amendment Bill was being prepared. The next morning, on May 23, a summary was moved to former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, saying that a Constitutional Cmendment has been finalised. On May 24, the Constitutional Amendment Bill indeed was tabled in the NA and also passed with just one vote more than the required two third needed. Less than a week later, the term of the NA itself expired. On May 25, the senate also passed it with just two more votes than the required two third majority. As it involved changes in the boundaries of KP, it was mandatory that the provincial Assembly also passed it. So two days later on May 27, the KP Assembly also passed it. It was the last act of the assembly as its five year term ended the next day on May 28. Finally, the president assented to it on May 31 as his last act before he was divested of powers to issue regulation for FATA. This indecent haste raises some questions which become obvious by seeing what is happening now to the merger process. Action in Aid of Civil Power Regulation promulgated in 2011 was backdated from 2008 to bring into open those under unlawful detention since 2008, he said adding that they were kept in internment centres for trial in the courts. However, these centres have turned into Abu Ghraib prisons of Pakistan as no one knows how many internment centres were set up, where, how many inmates, how many died in custody and whether tried in courts. He also called for a full disclosure about the inmates of internment centres and the status of cases against them. He said the provincial assembly of KP was now saddled with historic opportunity to play a historic role. Published in Daily Times, October 12th 2018.