Home Global Village Delay in FATA reforms could waste all counterterrorism successes

Delay in FATA reforms could waste all counterterrorism successes

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News Analysis |

The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) has decided to hit the roads to protest against the government’s continual delay in promulgating the FATA reforms. The party said it will start a long march from Khyber Agency to Islamabad. Speaking to the media on Friday, JI’s leader from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mushtaq Ahmed Khan said the walk will start from the famous Bab-i-Khyber in Jamrud and will finish with a sit-in outside the Prime Minister’s house in Islamabad.

Read more: Long-Awaited Judicial Reforms in FATA

“Before starting the long march, the JI will hold conventions in tribal agencies to mobilize people,” Mushtaq said while announcing the 10th of December as the starting date. He said that elders from the 7 tribal agencies and politicians from different parties would attend.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that the oversight committee is taking great care in ensuring that all constitutional, administrative and legal matters are resolved in light of the law and constitution.

The announcement came a day after lawmakers passed the Amendment for delimitations. Seen as an insult to mainstreaming FATA, the number of FATA seats in the National Assembly were not increased and were capped at 12.Mushtaq said the government has deliberately delayed the implementation of FATA reforms especially, the merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

In March this year, the then premier, Nawaz Sharif, had approved FATA reforms that included the merger of FATA with KP. Besides, a 10-year reform-package was approved.

Read more: Why is Maulana Fazlur Rehman obstructing FATA-KPK merger?

However, the reforms have been strongly opposed by Maulana Fazl ur Rehman and Mehmood Khan Achakzai, who head the Jamiat-ul-Ulema (JUI-F) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP), respectively.

Opponents have criticized the government for not being able to mollify its allies. Chairman PTI has often questioned why Fazl ur Rehman and Mehmood Khan Achakzai, despite having no stakes are opposing the merger.

Mushtaq Khan expressed his dismay on why the government is not implementing the reform proposed by the committee is constituted. “Strangely, the government hasn’t implemented the report of its own committee,” Mushtaq said while lamenting the fact that the government is undermining the Parliament just to pander to a few people.

The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) has decided to hit the roads to protest against the government’s continual delay in promulgating the FATA reforms. 

The JI leader was critical on how the Parliament expedites laws to save and reinstate a disqualified lawmaker but fails to legislate on genuine issues.Delay in foisting FATA reforms is frustrating and worrying experts as they feel that the failure to bring it into the mainstream setup is exposing the region to extremism and terrorism.

Watchers are concerned that the unnecessary delay will offset the gains made by the military. If reforms are not enforced, efforts to bring lasting peace in the area will be dealt with a severe blow.

That said, the government has iterated its resolve to mainstream FATA. On Thursday, while talking to a youth Jirga, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, said that the government is working towards the merger. He said that the oversight committee is taking great care in ensuring that all constitutional, administrative and legal matters are resolved in light of the law and constitution.

Read more: Questioning the merger of FATA with KPK

“The government has adopted a go-slow policy on the Fata merger with the KP as coalition partners – the Jamiat Ulema-e Islam-Fazal and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party – have reservations over the package finalized by the government. The government plans to hold further consultations on the Fata reforms package to evolve a consensus before its implementation,” Abbasi said.

Mushtaq Khan expressed his dismay on why the government is not implementing the reform proposed by the committee is constituted.

Watchers have often pointed towards the lack of civilian follow up to military operations, something that is hurting counterterrorism efforts. The worry is that if reforms are not expedited, FATA may drift towards militancy once again.

Footprints of radical elements appeared in South Waziristan last week as pamphlets warning people against music and dance were distributed. The government is being advised by commentators and political activists to speed-up the process of reforms. However, will the government bypass two of its allies or not like to run the risk of losing them?


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