House debate: Lawmakers make a pitch for swift FATA reforms

Regret absence of ministers, treasury members during crucial debate

Riazul Haq October 03, 2016
Regret absence of ministers, treasury members during crucial debate. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: Lawmakers on Monday called for the swift implementation of a string of legislative and administrative changes recommended by the Fata Reforms Committee after lengthy discussions in the National Assembly.

Since the start of the current session, the reforms in Fata have been a talking point in the house. However, not all parliamentarians have shown an equal amount of interest in the debate. Not surprisingly, it was the Fata lawmakers who seemed most eager to list its merits.

Starting the debate on Monday, Pakistan Peoples Party’s parliamentary leader Naveed Qamar stated that the Fata reforms should be implemented as soon as possible.

“The reforms should be implemented immediately, lest the current report be turned out like 13 other reports on Fata released during the last few decades,” he said.

He urged the government to give the people of the tribal areas the right to vote, adding a few basic points could be implemented at the stroke of a pen.

“Do it now; why wait for the next five years for its first phase of implementation; hold local bodies elections and end political agent’s hegemony and the colonial system in the area,” he urged the government.

He also said the report did not carry any details about how things would evolve before and after the implementation process in the wake of the merger of Fata with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Qaumi Watan Party’s chief Aftab Sherpao also gave the report a thumbs up. He ruled out the possibility of a referendum on the merger issue, saying, “Article 247 of the constitution (which deals the administration of Fata) had no mention of referendum in Fata”. Sherpao added that a constitutional amendment would be introduced in case a new province was to be established.

He was responding to the demand made by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman who had suggested a referendum in Fata over accession of Fata in K-P.

“It is time for political parties to avoid point-scoring on Fata. We need to hold political agents of the agencies responsible who, to my knowledge, have been taking Rs300 million to Rs400 million for their individual appointment,” Sherpao said.

Sherpao added that the report made no mention of a census which is crucial for development.  “I believe the population of Fata now exceeds 10 million”.

While pointing at the treasury benches, he said nobody was there to note down these suggestions. “Not even Minister for Safron Lt-Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch and Law Minister Zahid Hamid, who were part of the reforms committee.”

Bilour also demanded swift implementation of the report and called the delay a disservice to the people of Fata. He said he endorsed the report on behalf of the party.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Shireen Mazari stood up and pointed out the empty hall of the assembly having only 30 lawmakers and stated that how the house would function if that was the interest of the members on such an important issue.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Abdul Waseem said the people of Fata should have a separate province instead of merging their territory with K-P.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2016.


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