FATA reforms bill should be enforced at once in whole tribal areas: Speakers

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ISLAMABAD: PPP leader Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the passage of a bill in the National Assembly, extending the jurisdiction of Supreme Court of Pakistan and Peshawar High Court to FATA, is a historic moment, however, there are two major ambiguities in the bill – one is the central government’s jurisdiction to enact the bill through notification and second is the central government’s liberty to implement the law where and when required.
He was speaking at a Roundtable titled: ‘FATA Reforms: The Current Trends and Way Forward’, organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday.
Criticizing the act of the government as mala fide, Mr Babar demanded of the government to immediately seize this opportunity with some requisite amendments and implement the bill which shall come in force at once in all areas.
Justice (retd) Mian Muhammad Ajmal said that there is a need to amend or repeal Article 247 of the Constitution to implement the bill and if the government does not do this then the passage of bill from the National Assembly will be of no use.
ANP leader and Ex-senator Afrasiab Khattak said even after freedom from British rule, unfortunately, FATA remained an excluded region till today. FCR was a great injustice to the people of FATA where people were deprived of basic human rights, he said, adding that there are no big hurdles for reforms within FATA, but hurdles were created in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
Unless operationalized through notification, we don’t see any progress on the bill, he said and went on to say that FATA Secretariat and SAFRON have no capacity and will to implement FATA Reforms, therefore, should not be given such responsibility. Mr Khattak suggested that there should be some effective reforms’ implementation mechanism in place, which is formulated with all stakeholders.
He further said the next big challenge is to transform the huge black economy of FATA into formal and documented economy.
Senior journalist Zahid Hussain said it is unfortunate that the FATA issue is still un-resolved. “It is about time to integrate FATA into mainstream and Sartaj Aziz led commission was a big step forward in the way of FATA reforms. He said some of the state forces have their vested interest in FATA which is of political nature, and there is a lack of complete political will on the issue. On fiscal side, he said, it seems that federal and provincial governments are not willing to spare their resources.
Mr. Hussain said the passage of bill from National Assembly was a big step forward, but will be unproductive unless there is a legal infrastructure in place. To establish the writ of the state in FATA require strong institutional arrangements to avoid any conflict, he added.
PML-N MNA Shahabuddin Khan said people of FATA were continuously betrayed and exploited in the name of so-called customs and Frontier Constabulary Regulations (FCR). “Since 1947, FATA has been left alone and was made an open battle field on doctrine of necessity and no political party come forward for our rescue and welfare.”
Shahabuddin said it was the youth of FATA, who raised their voices and start aggressive campaigns for their fundamental rights going above their party affiliations. He maintained that people of FATA support this legal step of High Court and Supreme Court jurisdiction to FATA region, as it is a stepping stone towards the reforms.
Senior Anchorperson Saleem Safi said FATA and KPK are one from all dimensions. In FATA, a majority wanted to be the part of Pakistan and want merger, he added.
Owing to lack of legal framework in FATA, hundred thousand Naqeebs had been martyred there and there was no justice.
SDPI’s Senior Researcher Shakeel Ahmed Ramay said that the aim of today’s discussion was to build a national consensus and ownership for the longstanding issue confronting FATA that has been affecting not only the region but also the whole fabric of Pakistani society.
Youth representatives from FATA demanded merger of FATA with KPK and writ of the constitution in the FATA region. They also sought fundamental rights for people of FATA like other citizens of Pakistan as per constitution.
Ajmal Khan Wazir of PML-Q, Haroon Rasheed senior journalist and Zaigham Khan Civil Society Activist were also spoke on the occasion.

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