SAFRON Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch on Thursday said that a report on FATA reforms, 2016, is expected to be presented in next meeting of the Federal Cabinet for approval.
Addressing a press conference here, Qadir Baloch said that the FATA Reforms Committee Chairperson was Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz while its members were Minister for SAFRON Abdul Qadir Baloch, Minister for Law & Justice Zahid Hamid, National Security Adviser Lt-Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor (KPK) and SAFRON secretary.
The report has already been presented to Prime Minister Office and discussed in a meeting of National Action Plan where it was agreed to make its finding public to further debate and develop national consensus.
He said the total population in FATA was around 7 to 8 million and comprised the agencies of Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan, besides the Frontier Regions of Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Lakki, Tank and DI Khan. Qadir Baloch said that the region faced the highest rate of poverty and lowest development indicators.
He said the sessions of the Senate and National Assembly also held a debate and suggestions from all stakeholders were incorporated to make recommendations more effective.
The minister said the committee pointed out that the consultation process brought forward four options of transformation of FATA which included maintaining of status-quo with minor changes; or granting special status to FATA like Gilgit-Baltistan; creating a separate province for FATA, or integrating FATA into KPK province. Integrating FATA into KPK made more sense keeping in view close horizontal linkages of agencies and FRs with adjacent KPK districts.
These trade and economic links were also reinforced by social and cultural consanguinity with FATA tribes, the committee recommendations said.
Abdul Qadir Baloch said that the FATA Reforms Committee also favoured repealing the existing Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) with new “Tribal Areas Rewaj Act” and the Jirga system. He said during the consultations, all the stakeholders expressed unanimity on ‘Rewaj Act’, terming it a part of their age-old tradition.
He said the provisions relating to collective responsibility in the FCR would be omitted in the new act, thereby making an individual responsible for his own acts.
The Jirga system would remain prevalent in criminal and civil disputes, while it was also proposed to codify the “Rewaj” in each agency.
He said the FATA reforms only be meaningful if the Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDPs) return home and be assisted to reconstruct their property damaged during the operations, besides other infrastructure, adding that majority of TDPs have returned to their homes. The minister said the committee recognized that if appropriate reforms were not introduced early, the advantages obtained from the Zarb-e-Azb operation would be lost.