ISLAMABAD: The government will introduce a new bill in parliament to extend jurisdictions of the Supreme Court (SC) and the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) as part of its plans for mainstreaming of the region.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the federal cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday. It came after the government faced severe backlash from parliamentarians on the proposed Rewaj Act, which was aimed at replacing the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR).
The cabinet decided that after the passage of the new bill, abolition of the FCR and extension of the superior courts’ jurisdiction to the tribal region, the writ of the laws of the country would be enforced in phases.
The cabinet discussed the mainstreaming of Fata after the PM chaired a meeting on the matter a few days ago. In March this year, the cabinet had approved recommendations of the Fata reforms committee, including merger of the region with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and replacing FCR with Rewaj Act through legislation.
However, lawmakers from Fata rejected the Rewaj Act as a new form of FCR to “enslaving” tribal people. A parliamentary panel on Monday also came down hard on the Rewaj Act proposal. At one point the Minister for States and Frontier Regions Qadir Baloch had to say that “kill it, if you do not like it”. Baloch categorically stated that Fata could not be merged with K-P.
A press release issued by the Prime Minister House said the new bill and the phase-wise reforms would be reinforced by a massive development effort for the tribal region, to be financed through allocation of additional resources from the National Divisible Pool. But interestingly, the provinces have yet to agree on the Rs 100 billion package for FATA.
Among other agenda items, the cabinet allowed Finance Division to present the Annual Report of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) for 2015-16 and that of the Competition Commission of Pakistan for 2013 and 2014 in parliament.
The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority’s (NEPRA) annual report for 2015-16 and the state of industry report for 2016 were also presented before the cabinet.
Abbasi directed the ministry to give a comprehensive presentation to the cabinet on power generation, distribution and transmission, liabilities and recoveries and load-management in the country.
The cabinet also approved signing of agreement between Pakistan and Tanzania on abolition of visa for diplomatic and official passport holders.