FATA reforms first casualty of Panama Papers: Babar

PPP senator says some political parties fear erosion of their power base in case of Fata’s merger


Izhar Ullah August 27, 2017
PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: Senator Farhatullah Babar has said former premier Nawaz Sharif was the ‘second casualty’ of the Panamagate case as its ‘first casualty’ was the reforms package for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) which the government did not implement in order to muster allies’ support in the backdrop of the scandal.

“Sharif stopped the reforms package implementation as he was in trouble owing to the Panama Papers. Sharif actually needed parliamentary support at such crucial time so he stopped passing reforms at the behest of JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman and PkMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai,” he said on Saturday.

FATA reforms shelved indefinitely yet again

“Fata reforms are the first casualty of the Panama Papers. Fata people have suffered first due to the case. Sharif became the second causality of the scandal after his disqualification,” Babar added.

The PPP senator was addressing a seminar discussing delay in FATA reforms, organised by the Shaheed Bhutto Foundation at a local hotel in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) capital.

He said the JUI-F has a vast network of seminaries in the tribal areas where mosques and seminaries play a pivotal role in determining political discourse. “Those who oppose the reforms fear that if Fata is merged with K-P then it will no longer be possible for the mosque and pulpit to dominate the political discourse,” he claimed.

Fearing that Fata might become a battlefield of international powers following Donald Trump’s new policy, he said it was a good opportunity to merge the areas to save the locals from suffering again.

“The roadblocks in empowering the people are the civil-military bureaucracy, lack of political will and those political parties who fear an erosion of their political power base if Fata is brought into the national mainstream,” he added.

The senator urged that jurisdiction of the superior courts be extended to Fata and their people should be empowered through conducting local government elections under K-P LG Act.

Reforms delay: FATA alliance gives call for protests

Speaking on the occasion, ANP’s Mian Iftikhar Hussain argued that the US president’s new Afghan policy might lead to more delays in implementation of the reforms.

“Trump’s new policy will lead Pakistan government and stakeholders in reforms process to step back and delay the implementation of the reforms for another 5 to 10 years,” Hussain said. “I don’t understand the logic behind opposition to Fata merger with K-P if the tribal people want this.”

K-P’s former governor Barrister Masood Kausar suggested constitutional amendments rather than imposing Rewaj Act on tribal people. “Like Frontier Crimes Regulation, implementation of the Rewaj Act under Fata reforms would subjugate some clauses of the Constitution.”

He said currently Fata is a black hole when it comes to budgetary allocations and their actual utilisation in the region. “The merger will help in development of the people of the region,” he added.

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