SHABQADAR: Lawmakers from the tribal belt have been summoned to Islamabad on Monday (today) to discuss Fata reforms.
Most of them have mixed feeling about the meeting in Islamabad. A majority of them are optimistic that the government will announce reform packages. However, tiny pockets of scepticism continue to exist as a large number of lawmakers fear the reforms packages will be ignored.
Fata parliamentary leader MNA Shah Jee Gul Afridi to National Assembly Secretary confirmed the Fata Reforms Committee meeting scheduled for Monday.
“The Fata lawmakers from both the houses will be briefed by head of committee, Sartaj Aziz, on proposed reforms packages,” he added.
According to Afridi, a majority of the lawmakers agree that reforms should alter the immediate system that prevails in Fata.
“During the first phase of the reforms, the superior judiciary should be extended to Fata,” he said. “Moreover, the government should announce development plan for 10 years for Fata. This should include developing infrastructure and enhancing the capacity of existing forces such as the khasadar and levies forces.”
He added once a consensus is reached with respect to the proposed reform package, it will be sent to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for approval.
Another lawmaker said they do not have sufficient details about the proposed packages.
“We have only heard about the reforms in the media,” he said. “We have still not read what the proposed reforms from the government are. In the current circumstances, how can we say when the reforms are due?”
The lawmaker said he is not optimistic about the pace at which the reform packages will be implemented. He said the political administration should take the common view about the proposed reforms.
“Fata needs development in education and health sectors and infrastructure has also been adversely affected by militancy,” he added.
He said there are constitutional hurdles in the reforms process. “For instance, the boundary of Fata can only be changed through constitutional amendments,” he said. “If Fata is merged with K-P then what will the Fata’s status be in K-P and the federal government?”
FATA Lawyers Forum member Ijaz Mohmand said proposed reforms have nothing to do with the tribal belt as these reforms were also announced by the previous government. “However they were never implemented in true spirit,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2016.
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