`FCR biggest hurdle to evolution in Fata`
By Ikram Junaidi
ISLAMABAD: A report by the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) has described the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR), which was enacted by the British in the tribal areas in 1901, as the biggest hurdle to evolution in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
The report said that although the FCR should have been repealed during the Afghan war, there is now another opportunity to repeal it and continue to benefit from Operation Zarb-i-Azb.Thereport,whichistitled`FataReforms: Contextual Analysis and Legislative Review`, is available with Dawn and will be released soon.
It recommends holding local elections before 2018, addressing sectarian violence, establishing trauma centres and counterterrorism cells, securing the border, allowing open access to the media, closing the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (Safron), merging the Fata Secretariat with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Secretariat, establishing free legal aid clinics and controlling kidnapping and smuggling.
According to NCHR Director General Af tab Alam, the FCR needs to be repealed.
`The FCR is the biggest hurdle in the evolution of the area. Once, the FCR was also imposed in KP, but then it was limited to Fata. Now, we can see that the KP areas have changed and old practices are not followed there, but in Fata, centuries old practices are being followed,` he said.`There are armed groups. The FCR has also become ineffective as, once the heads of tribes were powerful enough to implement their decision across the tribe but now people do not listen to them. The Afghan war was the best time to repeal [the FCR] but now we have got another opportunity after Operation Zarb-i-Azb to continue its benefits, to repeal it, as some elements do not want to repeal the FCR, he added.
Mr Alam said the FCR contains the notion of collective responsibility; under the regulations, if one individual commits a crime the whole tribe may be punished.
The NCHR report says trained police in proper and identical uniforms should be appointed in Fata, and a massive campaign shouldbelaunchedin ordertorid the area of weapons.
The report also says trauma centres should be set up for locals with psychological issues resulting from the war-like situa-tion that has persisted for decades.
The porous border was also highlighted as a major issue, and the report suggested ensuring security at the border and stopping smuggling. The report added that the NCHR should be given access to review detention f acilities.
It was also highlighted that Fata is allocated fewer funds than other parts of the country, particularly KP, and suggested introducing a local government system.
The 2013 Freedom of Information Act should be extended to Fata and the media should be allowed access, the report added.
Researcher Syed Haider, who worked on the report, said temporarily displaced people should be resettled in the tribal areas.
`We have also suggested that the head of the jirga could be selected by the disputing parties. As smuggling is a major issue in the area and a lot of money is involved, efforts should be made to stop smuggling completely,` he said.