Peace will continue to elude the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) unless the draconian Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) is done away with.
This was the consensus among speakers at a discussion titled on “FCR – need for reforms, challenges and way forward”, organised by the Centre for Research and Security Studies here on Saturday.
The speakers said that an increasing number of FATA residents were joining hands to demand abolition of the FCR as the state’s apathy towards the protection of their fundamental rights was creating feelings of deprivation among them.
Despite political consensus for reforms, the implementation failure represented a formidable challenge for bringing political, legal and administrative reforms in the tribal areas, they said.
Ajmal Wazir of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q and member of the Political Parties Joint Committee on FATA Reforms said that in December 2013, the reforms committee, with representation from 10 different political parties, reached a consensus on an 11-point agenda for reforms in FATA by giving more legal, political, democratic and constitutional rights.
He said the committee had demanded basic rights for all tribal citizens by amending Article 247 of the constitution. The committee had also asked that legislation rights be transferred from president to parliament besides holding local bodies elections, he said, adding that none of the recommendations were implemented.
Former National Assembly deputy speaker Faisal Karim Kundi said that all those who vouch for FCR reforms needed to sit on a single platform to build pressure for the abolition of draconian laws. Kundi also reiterated his party’s support for FATA reforms through moving a private member’s bill in the national assembly.
ANP Senator Afrasiab Khattak suggested that Fata residents be taken on board while deciding the fate of the region. He also stressed the need for making the local government system functional in the area besides greater budget allocations.
Former MNA Ayesha Syed said peace could not be ensured in the area without abolishing the FCR, which she said, was in contravention of the constitution.
“Funds allocation for FATA is not at par with other provinces,” she said. “The FCR doesn’t even recognise social and political emancipation of women, what to talk of property and inheritance rights,” Ayesha said.
FATA Lawyers’ Forum President Ijaz Momand said that there was a dire need to amend article 247 of the constitution. “Article 247 may either be abolished or reformed immediately,” he said, adding that a bill for reforming the article could be presented in parliament.
Former ambassador Ayaz Wazir also urged the need for political, legal and administrative reforms by abolishing the colonial-era laws.
“The way forward for reforms in FATA is a consensus and support from all political parties”, he said, adding that FATA residents must also decide whether they want to be merged with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa or to become a separate province.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2014.