FATA — the long haul

There is no match at all between the justice system operating in Fata and that operating in K-P

Editorial March 03, 2017

Difficult as it may have been in getting on to the statute books the legislation that finally approved the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with K-P, was the easy part. As noted severally in these columns there is a layer-cake of complexity and divergent — indeed conflicting — interests at stake. Bridges across both histories and cultures are going to have to be built, spanning the gap between what is essentially a medieval society with all the norms and values attendant upon that — and a relatively developed society that is evident in much, but by no means all, of K-P.

There are no simple ‘read across’ solutions. There is no match at all between the justice system operating in Fata and that operating in K-P. This operates under the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) 1901 and there is no separation between the judiciary and the executive. A better fit may be found in health and education where there are already Fata-born people working in both K-P and their birthplace. It is currently estimated that 30 percent of the reforms require no finances and can be made via administrative adjustment — which leaves the 70% that are going to need vast sums.

What is going to be needed is considerable quantity but which is already in short supply — is goodwill. There is such a plethora of stakeholders that not all are going to be satisfied, some already are distinctly peeved, and five years to make this complex and historic transition errs on the side of optimism. The shift is going to span electoral cycles both federally and provincially and it is going to be essential to maintain momentum if the entire operation is not to fall into disarray. Ultimately it is going to be down to the politicians to make this work, and that into a long future. It will require a consistent commitment unusual in Pakistan, and the ability to synchronise and multitask, equally unusual. We believe this is an essential part of bringing Pakistan as a whole into the modern world, and lend our unreserved support to the new legislation.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2017.

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