Home News Analysis NA increases Tribal Areas’ representation; is it the end of PTM’s propaganda?

NA increases Tribal Areas’ representation; is it the end of PTM’s propaganda?

Tribal Areas

News Analysis |

In a latest development, the National Assembly (NA) on Monday unanimously approved the 26th Constitution Amendment Bill seeking an increase in the number of seats for the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) in the NA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.

This is the first Constitution amendment to be approved by the present assembly that came into existence in August after the general elections in July last year. Under the bill, the number of NA seats from former FATA will be increased to 12 from six. In the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, seats will be increased to 24 from 16.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing the Lower House, expressed his appreciation over the consensus between all parties on recommendations for the bill. The prime minister stressed that no area should get the feeling that they are not owned by Pakistan. “This sense of deprivation is very dangerous because it can be exploited by Pakistan’s enemies and they are doing this. Our development budget should be inclusive. We should try to raise up areas which have been left behind.”

The merger is considered a big step toward bringing constitutional governance and restoring peace to these areas. The peace and order in tribal areas faded away in 1990s when militancy took its roots and started dominating the political discourse of FATA.

While giving the modern day example of East and West Germany, Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “West Germany sacrificed and helped East Germany come up and the entire country prospered.”

PTI’s Zartaj Gul wrote on her Twitter handle: Feeling emotional on this historic day. My courageous and patriotic tribal’s have suffered long, and it’s time for them to be rewarded for the massive sacrifices they’ve given for the country.

Since there is a movement originated from the tribal areas which is allegedly being supported by the RAW and NDS to destabilize Pakistan, such move by the NA is likely to prove dangerous for any such anti-Pakistan activity.

Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor recently clarified that the problem is in tribal areas and all the stakeholders including the incumbent government, parliament and the army are willing to address them without any reluctance, then what is the point of targeting the state of Pakistan outside Pakistan? He was referring to recent talks and speeches of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) leadership in London and America.

Read more: FATA’s merger into KPK is not a guarantee of socio-economic prosperity

It may be noted here that on 24 May 2018, Pakistan’s National Assembly passed the FATA Reforms Bill, merging FATA, a Pashtun majority area along the Afghan border, with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The merger is considered a big step toward bringing constitutional governance and restoring peace to these areas. The peace and order in tribal areas faded away in 1990s when militancy took its roots and started dominating the political discourse of FATA. The emergence of military created social, cultural, and economic problems for the natives, led to an unprecedented rise of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Pakistan.

Experts argue that several military operations to eliminate terrorists from the tribal areas have adversely affected socio-cultural settings of the area. Therefore, the incumbent needs an overall reform package in order to upgrade the damaged system of governance and the rule of law. Salman Bangash, Assistant Professor at the Department of History, University of Peshawar, believes that “the historic constitutional and legislative changes that have brought about Fata’s merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are a first step in the right direction, but due to complexities, intricacies, and numerous hurdles, it will be a gigantic task to implement them”. “Major problems and challenges,” argues Mr. Bangash, “of such implementation include modification and changes to the prevailing tribal administrative set-up and to the role and responsibilities of existing officials and various tribal forces such as the Levies Force and Khasadars.”

Read more: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly passes landmark FATA bill with a two-third majority

Analysts believe that the incumbent is serious to take major steps in order to provide the people of tribal areas with basic facilities of life which is posing a direct and powerful threat to the narrative established by the PTM.

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