ISLAMABAD: The federal government is apparently reluctant to assign the gigantic task of implementing Fata reforms to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government as it fears that a whopping Rs1,000 billion envisaged for the project might be misused.
The K-P government has sent two letters seeking permission to implement the Fata reforms package which was approved by the federal cabinet on March 2. The letters have been sent to the federal government and Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, who is also the chair of the Fata Reforms Committee.
Soon after the cabinet approval, the K-P government had started voicing its concerns about its role in the implementation of Fata reforms.
SAFRON Minister Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch told The Express Tribune that Fata’s development was a federal government responsibility. “They [K-P] can give us suggestions, we are preparing them [for full control of Fata] and after it goes to them, they can do whatever they want to,” he said.
Actually, the problem is that every stakeholder wants a piece of the huge package of Rs100 billion, he said. “Our aim is to bring Fata at par with K-P and its developed districts through its merger,” he added. “Fata used to get Rs20 billion annual development budget, but nobody knew about it.”
He said it was thought that Fata was 10 times backward than K-P. Baloch said the provincial government, Awami National Party and Qaumi Watan Party favour immediate merger.
The minister, who has concerns about the utilisation of funds, said that they wanted Rs1,000 billion for 10 years to be spent in Fata and not anywhere else. “What if any provincial government decides to utilise the funds in areas other than Fata,” he added.
Asked if they would reply to the letters of the K-P government, the minister said: “We will if we deem it necessary otherwise we won’t.”
He said the federal government felt that if the authority was handed over immediately, then it could cause problems as it was the federal government’s responsibility to take care of Fata.
The K-P government has repeatedly made it clear that a Fata-K-P merger without giving legal and administrative authority to the provincial government, is unacceptable.
Minister for Public Health Engineering Shah Farman said at a recent news briefing that the provincial government had reservations about the reforms. He threatened that the recommendations of the federal cabinet would be challenged in the Supreme Court “if the K-P government’s reservations were not addressed”.
Elders of various tribal agencies have already challenged the legality of the recommendations in the apex court claiming that majority of people in the tribal areas are not in support of the merger with K-P.
On March 22, the K-P government, in its first letter, asked the federal government to reconstitute the Fata Reforms Committee and include the provincial chief minister, 11th Corps commander and chief secretary in it.
Farman told The Express Tribune that the second letter was about the constitutional and legal lacunas in the implementation of reforms and how it could create problems for both the governments.