News Analysis |
Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) leader and sub nationalist Mehmood Khan Achakzai has stated that the Pakistani Parliament has no right over FATA. His attack on the parliament comes on the back of a heated tussle both in and out of the parliament over the inclusion of the Tribal areas into the mainstream.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has convened on Friday (tomorrow) an important meeting of the parliamentary leaders of all political parties in a bid to allay opposition’s concerns over delays to the introduction of Fata reforms bill and to forge consensus on the constituencies’ delimitation bill.
The government came under fire from political and public circles after it apparently backtracked on legislation for Fata reforms and did not introduce a related bill in the National Assembly on Monday despite an earlier announcement.
The FATA-KPK merger seems to be engulfed in political wrangling between the PTI led KPK government and its staunchest opponents in the Pushtun belt, the JUI & PKMAP.
The PM wants to assure the opposition parties that the government is ‘serious’ in the legislation on Fata and that the related bill was not introduced on Monday due to ‘technical’ hitches, according to knowledgeable circles in the ruling PML-N. They insist that the PM is in favour of legislation on Fata and the constituencies’ delimitation at the earliest.
A PML-N legislator claims that the government has already decided to reject Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Mehmood Khan Achakzai’s opposition to Fata reforms. Fazl’s JUI-F and Achakzai’s PKMAP are government allies that oppose immediate merger of tribal areas with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
“Achakzai’s party has nil presence in the K-P Assembly. Both Achakzai and Fazl parties have a small presence in Parliament. The views of a tiny minority should not be allowed to influence the will of an overwhelming majority,” said the legislator.
Earlier on Monday, the opposition parties resorted to strong protest in the National Assembly after the government withdrew its decision to table the FATA Reforms bill in the House for debate.
The FATA Reforms bill had earlier been made part of the agenda but later it was pulled off, which according to the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed, happened because further consultation was required on the bill.
Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) leader and sub nationalist Mehmood Khan Achakzai has stated that the Pakistani Parliament has no right over FATA.
However, the lawmakers from opposition parties Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and even the PML-N ally Shahabuddin Khan from FATA strongly protested and tore copies of the agenda. Tribal elders of Khyber Agency have criticised the federal government for withdrawal of Fata Reforms Bill from the agenda of National Assembly’s ongoing session, and termed it a ‘drone attack’ on the tribal people.
Read more: Will FATA finally merge in KPK?
While addressing a news conference at Peshawar Press Club on Wednesday, tribal elder Muhammad Irfan of Kokikhel tribe said that exclusion of the bill, aimed at extending the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the Peshawar High Court to Fata , from the agenda of National Assembly was a sheer injustice to the militancy-hit people of the tribal areas.
He viewed that tribesmen had been deprived of their fundamental rights due to the imposition of draconian Frontier Crime Regulations (FCR) in Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
The tribal elder said that Fata was deliberately kept backward in all fields wherein education, health and basic infrastructure had been badly damaged during the prolonged militancy and war on terror. A large number of tribal people, he said, had been displaced from their respective areas and confronted with numerous difficulties at makeshift camps in settled parts of the province, he added.
The reforms plan recommends electing parliamentarians from FATA to the KP assembly during the 2018 election, thus, enacting the merger with KP in the duration of a year. Additionally, it calls for mainstreaming the region “after five years” but does not shift control to the KPK government for the time.
Tribal elders of Khyber Agency have criticised the federal government for withdrawal of Fata Reforms Bill from the agenda of National Assembly’s ongoing session, and termed it a ‘drone attack’ on the tribal people.
Additional benefits of the FATA-KPK merger are the economic and social uplift of the area, which has long been marginalized. Additionally, the specter of terrorism which has caught FATA by the throat since the American invasion of Afghanistan can be properly addressed.
The abolition of the FCR and merger of FATA with KPK seems to be the most popular option for FATA’s future. According to a study published by FATA Research Centre titled “Governance Reforms in FATA: People’s Perspective”, 68% population of FATA is for the abolition of FCR, and 74% endorsed the option of the merger with KPK.
However, the FATA-KPK merger seems to be engulfed in political wrangling between the PTI led KPK government and its staunchest opponents in the Pushtun belt, the JUI & PKMAP. Observers assert that both JUI and PKMAP fear of losing of electoral power if FATA combines with KPK as well as the credit of the merger going to their nemesis the PTI.