News Analysis |
A bill was passed today by the National Assembly (NA) of Pakistan to extend the jurisdiction of Peshawar High Court (PHC) and the Supreme Court (SC) to FATA. This bill was moved by the newly assigned law minister Chaudhry Mehmood Bashir Virk. This bill was a step towards mainstreaming FATA and merging it with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province of Pakistan. It was initially suggested by the FATA Reforms Committee. Opposition leader Khurshid Shah called this bill a huge success.
Previously, according to Article 247 of the Constitution of Pakistan, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court (SC) did not extend to FATA and in turn, the human rights secured by the SC were not available to the people of FATA. The article also limited the applicability of parliamentary laws to FATA unless the president approves them. Passing of this bill would not repeal Article 247 but it would amend it and extend the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to FATA.
The bill has only been passed by the National Assembly so far, it is yet to be approved by the Senate. The ruling party PML-N was reluctant to pass any bill on FATA reforms, in an effort to appease their coalition partners Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and Pakhtunhuwah Milli Awami Party (PKMAP). The opposition parties staged a walk out on 21st December and refused to enter the assembly until the FATA reforms bill was introduced in the assembly.
Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and Pakhtunhuwah Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) are the only parties that oppose FATA-KP merger. They want FATA to become a separate province but the FATA reforms committee has already pointed out the problems with making FATA a separate province, declaring that was not a feasible solution. The seven agencies of FATA are linked to the adjoining districts but not with each other. The economic and cultural links between FATA and adjoining KP districts are very strong but the link among FATA agencies is not present.