Split over empowerment: No consensus on FATA reforms

Published: November 15, 2014
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Governor Mehtab had formed the commission in May and had tasked it to produce a comprehensive report within 10 months to outline policies and specific reforms meant to improve conditions in Fata. STOCK IMAGE

Governor Mehtab had formed the commission in May and had tasked it to produce a comprehensive report within 10 months to outline policies and specific reforms meant to improve conditions in Fata. STOCK IMAGE

SHABQADAR: 

As meetings of the FATA Reforms Commission take place to find solutions to the tribal areas’ governance, dissenting views have been expressed by tribesmen with regards to the current proposals.

FATA Lawyers Forum President Ijaz Mohmand rejected the reforms proposed for the Federally Administered Tribal Area (Fata) by the FATA Reforms Commission.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Mohmand said the commission’s proposals have been designed to put the tribal belt back by 25 years.

He pressed the government to abolish Article 247. According to Mohmand, a bill for this purpose had already been passed by the Senate but the government, through such commissions, was trying to delay reforms.

Among other things, Article 247 states, “Neither the Supreme Court nor a High Court shall exercise any jurisdiction under the Constitution in relation to a Tribal Area”.

The forum’s president said, “If it is abolished, elected representatives will be able to demand an end to Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) and the Constitution of Pakistan would be applicable to Fata.”

Instead, some elements want to create a de facto province rather than introduce constitutional reforms in Fata, he added. According to Mohmand, the claim for de facto province is a conspiracy against the people of Fata and will never be endorsed.

On November 7, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Governor Mehtab Abbasi chaired a high-level meeting about reforms in Fata. The meeting was attended by ex-corps commanders from Peshawar, Hamid Khan and Khalid Rabbani, former K-P governor Shaukatullah Khan and other ex-servicemen.

When contacted about the meeting, FATA Secretariat spokesperson Fazlullah informed The Express Tribune, it was a consultative meeting whereby the commission wanted to update all stakeholders about the proposed reforms in Fata. According to the spokesperson, the K-P governor insisted all reforms will only be introduced through the consent of tribal maliks. However, tribal people are still divided over the issue.

During the meeting, Sang Marjan Khan, an ex-serviceman, voiced his reservations about introducing reforms without consulting agency councils and the people of Fata.

“If we ask a religious cleric, he will demand the Sharia system. However, if we ask lawyers and tribal maliks, they will demand removing the FCR,” he said. “The system which is acceptable to Fata should be used to as a basis for decision-making.”

Moreover, Khan demanded the recommendations made by a committee led by Justice Mian Ajmal in 2002 should be implemented. Elected agency councils were part of the recommendations.

Earlier, in September, a spokesperson from the Governor House said several consultative sessions have been held by the FATA Reforms Commission with the media and youth. The commission has met several stakeholder groups, including the FATA Lawyers Forum, tribal maliks and civil society representatives.

Governor Mehtab had formed the commission in May and had tasked it to produce a comprehensive report within 10 months to outline policies and specific reforms meant to improve conditions in Fata.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2014.

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