PESHAWAR: The parliamentarians of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), civil society and tribal people on Friday welcomed passing of historic FATA Bill from the Senate which allowed the Supreme Court (SC) and the Peshawar High Court (PHC)’s jurisdiction to the tribal region and termed it a significant step forward towards KP-FATA merger.
While terming passing the bill from Senate is a landmark achievement of the government, they said it will ensure the provision of speedy and inexpensive justice to all litigants of the tribal areas. MNA from Bajaur Agency Shahabud Din Khan said that passing of the bill was a major step forward towards FATA’s merger with the province.
“Today is a historic day in the history of FATA as the dreams of tribal people for speedy and expensive justice have finally come true,” he said, adding that the FATA Bill is a major step forward to bring FATA into the country’s mainstream. He said that extension of the superior courts’ jurisdiction was the long-standing demand of people of tribal areas that was fulfilled by the PML-N government for which it deserves full credit and appreciation.
He thanked the opposition parties for their support in the passing of the bill from the Senate and the National Assembly. “It is a collective win,” he said, adding that no political party had ever even considered extending the SC and PHC’s jurisdiction to FATA during the last 70 years despite problems faced by tribal people over years.
PML-N is the only party that had constituted a high-level committee led by former PM’s adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz that visited all tribal agencies and frontier regions to make the FATA bill and reforms acceptable to all. The lawmaker said passing of bill first from National Assembly and now from Senate has paved way to abolish the century-old draconian Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR).
He said FCR would be replaced after PHC and SC’s jurisdiction to FATA and people would give same judicial rights as being enjoyed by rest of the country. Constitutional and legal expert Muhammad Alamzaib also lauded passing of the FATA bill and highly appreciated the parliamentarians besides tribal people over the passing of the bill from both houses of the parliament.
Alamzaib said that long-standing demand of FATA people to be brought within the ambit of Pakistan’s constitution has finally been fulfilled by the government and a strong foundation of ending their long sense of deprivations has been laid. He said that the FATA bill after the signing of the president would become law.
He said that the government should now focus on the construction of infrastructure for judicial offices, complexes, residential compounds for law officers and appointment of more judges for quick disposal of tribal people cases in FATA. “FCR is the core cause of backwardness, illiteracy, economic imbalances and poverty in tribal areas and replacement of this draconian law with the superior courts would help remove the long sense of deprivation among tribesmen and expedite the pace of socio-economic development there,” he remarked.
The KP Assembly had adopted a resolution on December 14, 2016, in favour of merging FATA with the province 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.
Tribal elders Malik Azmat Khan Alizai, Anwar Khan Dawar and Asghar Afridi said that the ruling party’s leadership had won hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of tribal people by fulfilling their long-standing demand of extending SC and PHC’s jurisdiction and termed it leap step forward to bring FATA into the mainstream.