Mainstreaming FATA: ‘Flawed’ reforms must not stall

Published: March 17, 2017
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ISLAMABAD: Over a fortnight after the reforms package for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) were approved by the federal cabinet, stakeholders have noted that while the current proposals have some flaws and paradoxes, going back to the status quo was not an option.

Instead, members of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government, political parties, academicians, tribal elders, human rights activists and members of the civil society called for immediate constitutional and legislative measures to bring Fata into the mainstream.

“We have to move forward, set our priorities straight, and put our house in order to [bring] Fata into the mainstream to end the decades-old sense of frustration and deprivation among its people.”

This was the crux of arguments at a roundtable conference on “Implementation of Fata Reforms Package: Setting the Priorities” at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) in collaboration with the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (Safron) on Thursday.

Former K-P chief secretary Khalid Aziz a said that with 73 per cent of Fata’s citizens living below the poverty line, it was imperative that the reforms process was carried forward to ensure that relief is provided to the people.

Giving details of the government’s initiatives, Aziz expressed the hope that the reforms package would prove to be a game changer not only for the people of Fata but for the entire region.

Awami National Party leader Afrasiab Khattak said the government has to come up with a time-frame for materialising the agenda on Fata.

Pointing to some of the lacunas and ambiguities in the programme, Khattak called for a participatory approach to the matter. Further, he said that the KP government – an important stakeholder – must be fully taken on board while making any decision on this front.

Noting the ambiguities in the reforms programme, Adviser to K-P Chief Minister Haji Fazal Ilahi asked how could elected provincial representatives from Fata be made answerable to the governor.

K-P’s Finance Minister Muzaffar Said suggested that government should clarify how the Riwaj Act would work in the reformed Fata and what would the working relationship be between the elected representatives of K-P and those coming from Fata.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2017.

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