PESHAWAR: A consultative meeting on the future of tribal areas ended in a brawl between anti- and pro-reform tribal elders and their supporters.
The grand jirga, called by the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), was set to screen a documentary on the future of Fata, officials told The Express Tribune. But the programme ended before its formal start.
Fate of Fata: PM chairs meeting on Fata reforms today
The scuffle was so intense that security staff evacuated the governor, who is also Fata’s chief executive, and the K-P Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar.
The scuffle was sparked by the provocative comments made by Khan Marjan, a tribal chief from the North Waziristan Agency.
Terming the members of the reforms committee traitors, he stated that tribal areas had been destroyed and Fata’s public representatives in the National Assembly were unaware of ground realities.
“Whatever you (the committee) have written in the report is nothing short of an insult to the tribesmen,” were Marjan’s last words, after which the hall reverberated with full-throated anti-FCR slogans.
Governor K-P Iqbal Zafar Jaghra was evacuated after tribesmen favouring Frontier Crime Regulations (FCR) intimidated participants of the grand jirga.
A shouting match ensued between supporters and detractors of FCR and soon tribesmen raising slogans of ‘Go MNAs Go’ and ‘Go FCR Go’ entered into a physical punch-up.
Meanwhile, MNAs from Fata were angry over the federal government and Fata secretariat’s attitude, insisting that both had persistently obstructed reforms in Fata.
They contended that there was no need for holding the grand jirga since the bill was already in the Senate.
“These are just people with hidden agendas and they do not want any reforms in Fata,” PML-N’s MNA Shahabuddin Khan told journalists.
They also accused the governor, who is a PML-N stalwart, of using the Fata Secretariat to serve his vested interests.
FATA reforms: doubts cast before implementation
A senior Fata Secretariat official said that initially, only five elders from each tribal agency were to be called for the Jirga, but the programme was apparently changed on the instructions of someone up top.
All political agents were instructed to bring at least 25 people with them, he said.
“The message was conveyed after Friday prayers … We did not even have two hours to inform relevant people.”
MNA Shahji Gul from Khyber Agency said that disrupting the function was an enemy ruse.
Interestingly, bureaucrats working in the Fata secretariat enjoyed tea and refreshment despite the commotion, but lawmakers sat outside the main hall.
The lawmakers from Fata argued that the governor sought to practically restrict the effectiveness of the committee’s report.
[brid video="82468" player="7247" title="Grand Jirga over Fata reforms ends in a brawl"]
Published in The Express Tribune, December 3rd, 2016.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ