With elections looming in the near future, tribal elders and various political party leaders are still divided over the government’s introduction of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) Local Government Regulations 2012.
The Fata Secretariat had sought proposals from local legislators for the introduction of a local government (LG) system in the Fata. A pilot project in this regard was started almost ten days ago in Bajaur Agency.
The Express Tribune had asked various local political leaders, parliamentarians and tribal elders for their views on the coalition government devised draft of the LG system.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) National Assembly member (MNA) Akhunzada Chittan said that the party backs the move and demands the election mechanism be based on adult franchise and the party system. He lamented, however, that the funds allocated for the tribal areas had not been utilised properly and were instead being diverted for the development of other sectors across the country. Chittan hoped leaders elected under the LG system would help solve problems that continued to plague the region. He suggested setting up a Fata council to decide the future of the tribal areas.
Senator Hilal Rehman urged the need to discard decades-old draconian laws and introduce a proper judicial system. He said the council should keep a strict check on financial matters and supervise the execution of welfare projects across the tribal belt. Rehman further suggested that tribal leaders and representatives be taken into confidence before introducing any legislation.
Zahir Shah Safi, a political reformer and tribal lawyer, told The Express Tribune that elections should be held on union and tehsil levels before merging Fata with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) or keeping the region independent, and Fata councils should have the final say on the decision. He supported the setting up of a municipal system in Bajaur Agency’s Khar headquarters.
President of the Awami National Party’s (ANP) Mohmand Agency chapter, Nisar Mohmand said their party supports the plan. He added that it should not follow the Nazim-based system introduced by Pervez Musharraf. “The regulation should be like that of the provincial LG system.” He opposed the Fata council, however, saying the time was ripe to merge the tribal areas with K-P. Mohmand criticised the role of political agents in the process and stressed the need to reduce the political administration’s role and make the process more result oriented.
Tribal elder and Halemzai peace committee leader Muhammad Ali Halemzai also opposed the plan and called upon the stakeholders to forge unity for the restoration of peace. He said normalcy was necessary to implement any regulation and introduce a new setup. He wished for the tribal areas to be brought at par with other parts of Pakistan in terms of peace, development, rules and regulations.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2012.
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