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Parties announce May 20 deadline for Fata reforms

By Amir Wasim 2017-05-07
ISLAMABAD: Representatives of tribal areas and main political parties have expressed concern over the delay in the implementation of proposed Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) reforms and have threatened to march on Islamabad if the government does not convene special sessions of the National Assembly and the Senate by May 20 to carry out the necessary legislation.

The ultimatum was announced in a onepage declaration issued at the end of a multiparty conference (MPC) organised by parliamentarians from Fata on Saturday.

`If [the] reforms are delayed further, a march on Islamabad will be announced to reflect the voice of the people of Fata,` MNA Shah Gee Gul Afridi said, reading out the declaration.

Participants of the MPC have asked the government to convene a special session of the National Assembly before the budget session, with a single-point agenda: `to take the administrative, financial and legal steps required for the merger of Fata with KP`.

The declaration says `the people of Fata have been anxiously waiting to enter the mainstream,` and their disappointment was growing with each passing day. The MPC demands: `That the government should present [the] Fata Reforms Act to the Parliament in the next session in line with the announcement made by the prime minister.

It also calls for `Local government elections in Fata before the next general elections, ensuring that Fata will get representation in the KP Assembly in the 2018 general elections.

Those who attended the MPC include the Fata MNAs, KP Assembly members, senators, senior Supreme Court lawyer Latif Afridi, and representatives of the PakistanPeoples Party, Jamaat-i-Islami, Pakistan Muslim League-Q, Qaumi Watan Party and Pakhtunl(hwa Milli Awami Party. Adviser to the Prime Minister on Law Barrister Zafarullah Khan represented the ruling Pakist an Muslim League-Nawaz in the MPC.

On March 2, the federal cabinet approved the steps to be taken for a proposed merger of Fata with KP and a 10-year reform package to bring the tribal region on a par with other developing areas of the country.

Back then, Prime Minister`s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, the head of the reforms committee, had said that the package would soon be sent to President Mamnoon Hussain for final approval after which a constitutional process would be initiated.

Speaking at the MPC, Senator Farhat ullah Babar of the PPP held the civil-military bureaucracy responsible for the delay, saying that `the greatest obstacle in mainstreaming Fata has been the hesitation of the civil-military bureaucratic complex to loosen their grip on tribal areas` PML-Q`s Ajmal Wazir said the people of Fata had reservations over the proposed Riwaj Act as they were not aware of the details of the proposed law.

Barrister Zafarullah said the Fata reforms package was a part of the government`s agendaand urgedeveryonenottodoubtthe government`s intentions.

RIWAJ ACT: In a statement issued separately, Federal Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid said the Riwaj Bill 2017 had been finalised in line with the wishes of the people of Fata, to accord complete protection to their customs and introduce the country`s legal code.

He said a proper judicial system would be established in Fata wherein the role of the tribal jirga had been duly legalised. `The black provisions of the FCR are proposed to be deleted and all fundamental rights are to be provided effectively,` he said.