Parliamentarians from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) have expressed mixed reaction to the SAFRON minister’s suggestion that Fata should be made a de facto province.
Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Minister Lieutenant General (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch told media on Friday in Islamabad that in a meeting of the National Assembly’s standing committee on SAFRON he suggested that Fata be made a de facto province just like Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).
According to Baloch, the move will enable parliamentarians from Fata to have a greater role in development projects in the region.
The chairman of the standing committee on SAFRON, Senator Saleh Shah, who hails from South Waziristan, told The Express Tribune he would be in favour of any such move. “It would not be difficult to implement the suggestion because 12 parliamentarians from Fata are in the lower house and eight are in the upper house,” he said.
The senator added under the Frontier Crimes Regulation, the Constitution of Pakistan does not extend to Fata and no act can be implemented in the region without the prior permission of the President of Pakistan. “Until this hurdle is removed, the problems of Fata cannot be resolved,” said Shah.
MNA Jamaluddin of Jamiat UIema-e-Islam-Fazl, however, said he was not in support of Baloch’s suggestion because according to him, Fata needs peace to be restored before other issues can be addressed. He was also of the opinion that parliamentarians from Fata have no role in development projects and there are no checks on them, nor are they made accountable.
Ijaz Mohmand of the FATA Lawyers Forum said instead of making Fata a de facto province it should be merged with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa as the provincial assembly had adopted a resolution in May 2012 regarding the matter.
“Leaders from Fata should be given the right to make their own laws,” said Mohmand.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2014.