ISLAMABAD: A high-powered panel on the implementation of Fata reforms has decided to expedite the process of legislation regarding extension in the jurisdiction of superior judiciary to tribal areas as well as its merger with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
A bill to extend the jurisdiction of Supreme Court and high court to Fata has already been tabled in the National Assembly.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the National Implementation Committee (NIC) on Fata reforms held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday.
Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, States and Frontier Regions (Safron) Minister Lieutenant General (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, Law Minister Zahid Hamid, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Sartaj Aziz, K-P Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and other senior civil and military officials attended the meeting.
Sources privy to the meeting said the conclave rejected the political opposition to the merger of Fata with K-P and decided to take practicable measures to implement the merger plan during the federal government’s current tenure.
The reported development comes as significant in the backdrop of opposition to Fata merger shown by the JUI-F, the PML-N’s coalition partner.
The sources said the appointment of COO to replace political agents running the system in Fata was also deliberated upon and was still under review.
The appointment of COO was first envisioned in the previous meeting of NIC held on September 8 with Premier Abbasi in the chair.
A PM House statement after Tuesday’s meeting said the committee reviewed the progress on legal reforms and noted that a bill to extend the jurisdiction of high court and Supreme Court to Fata had already been tabled in the National Assembly.
It directed the law minister to expedite the passage of the bill through both houses of parliament and also initiate other legal and administrative measures so that the normal judicial system could be extended to Fata at the earliest and its people could enjoy the same fundamental and other rights available to the people in rest of the country.
The committee also directed that all administrative actions to set up agency courts and to expand the capacity of various law enforcement agencies in Fata should be taken expeditiously in consultation with the superior judiciary, the statement said.
The committee noted that a high-level panel had already been set up to prepare a 10-year plan for the socio-economic development of Fata. In this context, it directed the finance minister to seek, on priority basis, the endorsement of the National Finance Commission to the proposal to allocate a share from the divisible pool for Fata for the next 10 years, it added.
The committee carried out an in-depth review of the issues raised and concluded that there was widespread support for the merger of Fata with K-P. However, many legal and administrative actions will be required before this important reform could be given a practical shape.
Separately, K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak called on PM Abbasi to discuss financial issues concerning the Centre and K-P.
“Matters pertaining to provincial finances and development were discussed during the meeting. The prime minister assured all possible support of the federal government to the provincial government. It was also assured to convene meeting at the working group-level between the officers nominated by the K-P government and the concerned officials in finance and power divisions at the federal level,” said the statement from the PM House.