ISLAMABAD: An alliance of political leaders from Pakistan’s remote tribal regions has threatened to stage countrywide protests if their demand to merge the under-developed tribal area withKhyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province is not met this weekend. 

“We will intensify our movement to launch rallies and demonstrations across the country if our legitimate demand regarding merger of FATA is not met by Independence Day,” Haji Iqbal Afridi, general secretary of the All FATA Political Parties Alliance told News Lens Pakistan.

Pakistan celebrates in Independence Day on August 14.

A senior official at the Ministry of State and Frontier Region (SAFRON), who wished to go unnamed, said that the committee tasked to finalize recommendations for reforms in FATA has completed its job.

Last year November, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif formed FATA Reforms Committee to recommend reforms to bring the militancy-plagued region on par with developed areas of the country.

However, FATA lawmakers have no representation in the FATA Reforms Committee, which sent resentment among tribal people.

Anita Mehsud, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) FATA central representative to political parties, also said that she wants merger of FATA with KP.

She expressed serious reservations that the FATA reforms committee has no female representation.

“Committee should have given FATA women leading role in the nation building process,” she Mehsud told News Lens Pakistan.

FATA is being run with a separate set of rules framed by the British known as Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR).

Compiled back in 2005, a report by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Peshawar chapter, titled: ‘A bad law nobody can defend,’ calls the regime “an outdated administrative and legal system”.

The tribal areas have a semi-autonomous status and are administered through a special law known as FCR (1901), it stated, adding that the basic purpose of the FCR was to indirectly administer this strategic area in the interest of the colonial power, the HRCP report says.

Despite the fact that the FCR lost its rationale decades ago, it states that the government has yet to come up with a rational thesis regarding FCR and FATA, it added.

“The provisions of the FCR are in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitution of Pakistan,” it stated.

The report said that it is a strong desire among common tribal people that the FCR should be done away with. “However, certain elements, having stakes in the present system, want to retain the status quo in the name of tradition and people’s culture.

Afridi unveiled that the alliance is planning to take several decisions in its meeting scheduled to be held on August 31.

“The government should accept our legitimate demand of merging FATA with KP province otherwise we’ll take this to the streets,” he remarked.

The most critical feature of the FCR is a system of ‘Collective Territorial Responsibility,’ stated Altafullah, Ph.D. Scholar, Area Study Centre University of Peshawar in his research compiled in 2013.

He said that the current estimate shows FATA’s population is almost 3.5 million.

According to this system, if a crime is initiated anywhere in tribal areas, the whole family or tribe on whose territory the crime is committed, is held accountable to the political administration,” he rued.

Hence, due to this part of the Regulation, an innocent individual may be held liable for the crime committed by someone else. In the same way, under the umbrella of ‘collective territorial responsibility’, the whole family, clan, sub-clan or village may suffer a variety of punishments, he stated.

Rehmat Khan, Assistant Inspector General police (Retd) who hails from tribal region, said that he is in favor of integration of the tribal belt with the KP province. “The option of merging FATA with KP is the only viable one, and it is the best available option to get rid of the infamous FCR,” he remarked.

He said that the FATA’s shattered infrastructure would get development because the area is rich in natural resources once the area gets provincial status.

The official at the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions said that the committee has proposed a set of reforms including merging of FATA with the KP province.

But Ali Wazir, a tribal elder, said that the committee should have discussed the issue with educated tribal lot to decide FATA’s status instead of holding some meetings with government officials.

“Before taking decision on FATA, the federal government should rid tribal region of chaos and mayhem first,” Wazir remarked.

When asked that the government may announce reforms other than merging the region with KP province, Afridi said: “FATA is not a laboratory where you keep carrying on experiments to know what kinds of reforms are working.”


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