Progress in FATA reforms

Small steps towards the ultimate goal

As the crucial matter of FATA reforms move at a snail’s pace there has been a positive development with the extension of the Supreme Court and Peshawar High Court’s jurisdiction in the war-torn region. The bill was tabled in the National Assembly and comfortably passed with the opposition’s support. Naturally the only party objecting to it was JUI-F that has reservations over FATA reforms chief amongst which is the regions merger with KP.

This is a welcome and important step towards a more stable FATA but is hardly enough. The region still remains largely ungoverned by state institutions making the law and order situation there troublesome to say the least. With the writ of higher courts now applicable there it becomes imperative to have a policing system in place.

An independent police that works within the law is crucial. Any development at the top most level will be futile unless institutions like the police are active at the grassroots. Registration of FIR’s, investigation of cases and evidence collection cannot be done by the Levies forces currently present in FATA – it has to be done by an experienced police setup to aid the judiciary in dispensing justice.

Local government elections will also be required at some point – sooner than later- to elect representatives of the people at positions where they can govern and use funds from the centre in a responsible and transparent manner to rebuild FATA.

All this however depends on the efficiency and will of the government at the centre. Areas like North Waziristan have largely been cleared but remnants of the war are still there. It will require sufficient funding and human resource to bring FATA into the mainstream. The eventual goal of its merger with KP will take time with small yet important steps being taken along the way.

Hopefully most if not all political parties are able to set aside their many differences – as they have done so far – and keep working towards the common goal of a prosperous and more stable FATA.