Nawaz felicitates nation on extension of superior courts’ jurisdiction to tribal areas

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday felicitated the nation on the passage of a bill in the National Assembly (NA) that has extended the Supreme Court and Peshawar High Court’s jurisdiction to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

“I congratulate the tribal population for entering a new era of constitutional, legal and democratic rights,” Nawaz said in a statement.

He said that the long-standing demand of tribesmen to enter the mainstream of the society had finally been fulfilled, adding that solid ground had been prepared to end the deprivations of the tribal population.

“The people of FATA have been deprived of their rights and oppressed since the last seven decades, but Quaid-e-Azam’s party achieved the unique distinction of ending the oppression of the tribesmen,” the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president said.

Nawaz also appreciated the efforts of all political parties and stakeholders for passing the FATA reforms bill in the National Assembly. He said, “I wish to see the progress, development and safety of the whole Pakistan.” He also said that, “Injustice with the people in any part of the country was unacceptable.”

On January 12, the National Assembly approved a bill to extend the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and Peshawar High Court to the tribal areas. The bill was presented by newly-appointed law minister Mahmood Virk.

The bill was opposed by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) Naeema Kishwar, who presented several amendments which were rejected by the House. Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah had termed the day as ‘historic’.

The lawmakers from FATA have been demanding the merger of the tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. However, despite agreeing, the government has failed to bring the bill in Parliament as it is opposed by its allied parties: JUI-F and Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party.

In the last session of the National Assembly, the opposition had boycotted the House to protest the government’s failure to table the FATA Reforms Bill.

In a meeting on December 26, 2017, the federal cabinet approved the formation of a high-level national implementation committee for FATA reforms.

“The meeting granted ex-post facto approval to the formation of National Implementation Committee on FATA Reforms. Minister for Defence and Commander 11 Corps have been included in the high-level implementation committee,” read a statement issued after the meeting.

The KP Assembly had adopted a resolution on December 14, 2016, in favour of merging FATA with KP with the aim of rehabilitating and reconstructing the infrastructure including roads, communications, power lines, water supply, education and health facilities.

The recommendations to bring the tribal areas at par with the rest of the country were approved by the federal cabinet on March 2, 2017, but the matter has been delayed since then.

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