PESHAWAR: Lawmakers, politicians and civil society from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on Friday welcomed passing of the long-awaited KP-FATA merger bill from the parliament and termed it historic step forward to bring the tribal territory into national mainstream.
In National Assembly, FATA parliamentary leader Shahgee Gul Afridi said that the government and the opposition parties deserved full credit and appreciation for passing the historic bill from the National Assembly and the Senate with overwhelming majority.
“Certainly, tribal people would now get the same legal, civil, constitutional and human rights as being enjoyed by the people of Pakistan. They will now get better education, health, water and others socio-economic services at their doorsteps,” he maintained.
He said that century-old FCR (Frontier Crimes Regulations) law would be repealed and the tribal people would get speedy justice as the law allowing the Supreme Court and the Peshawar High Court’s jurisdiction to the tribal areas has already been passed by the parliament.
He said that people of the tribal areas had rendered great sacrifices in war against terrorism and the best tributes to them was completion of all the reconstruction and rehabilitation projects as quickly as possible so that they could live in their native areas in dignified manner with all facilities available to them at their doorsteps.
MNA Shahabuddin Khan also praised the KP-FATA merger bill and termed it historic development. “FATA merger in KP is the best solution keeping in view the close horizontal linkages of the tribal agencies and frontier regions besides social, linguistic and cultural norms and tradition of tribesmen and people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he reiterated.
He said that the most of the officers serving in FATA belonged to KP who knows the customs, culture, history and traditions of tribal areas and there would be no issue in disposal of cases and official engagements for them. With the start of political activities, the local government system and allocation of special seats in the KP Assembly, tribesmen would now get all political, legal and civil rights besides judicious and transparent utilization of developmental funds would be ensured, he said.
The lawmaker said that the political agents were enjoying unlimited administrative, legal and financial powers and now they would be answerable to the government, the parliament and the courts directly on any issue of public importance.
PML-N parliamentary leader in KP Assembly Sardar Aurangzaib Nalota said that the PML-N government has fulfilled yet another promise by passing KP-FATA merger bill with overwhelming majority from both the Senate and the National Assembly. Before passing of the merger bill, he said the government had completed all the homework and announced a massive developmental package for FATA and rehabilitation of the displaced persons.
The government had already proposed Rs24.5billion for FATA’s uplift besides approving a 10-year FATA Development Plan (FDP) with total outlay of Rs100 billion in budget 2018-19, he said, adding that an allocation of Rs10 billion for fiscal year 2018-19 was also proposed to help bring hitherto tribal areas at par of developed regions of the country.
He said that transparent utilisation of these massive funds would help bring all those areas, which were closely located with KP, at par with settled areas of the province within two years. Nalota said that the government has also passed a bill allowing extension of superior courts to the tribal region meant to provide speedy justice to tribal litigants.
The PML-N leader said that no justification was left now with critics and political opponents to make hue and cry following passing of KP-FATA bill by the parliament and urged them to get united for general election 2018. Mohmand Anwar, executive director of the Centre for Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA), also welcomed passage of the constitutional amendment bill in the parliament for merging Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA, and extending parliament jurisdiction to all tribal areas.
“The bill is a very welcome step for ensuring right of democratic representation of all hitherto tribal areas by doing away with Article 247 of the constitution,” he said, adding that the FATA will have provincial representation for the first time in history. He said the amendment bill extending parliament and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly jurisdiction to FATA would effectively bring it into the legal and legislative framework.
The lawmakers from the Provincial Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) will be able to enact laws for their respective constituencies, he said, adding that the constitutional amendment bill was very important step for ensuring that all citizens of Pakistan have equal access to justice and everyone democratic representational rights are fully protected.
Veteran PPP leader and former KP senior minister Rahimdad Khan and ANP leader Wajid Ali Khan also welcomed the KP-FATA bill and maintained that it would enhance image of the country besides bringing the tribal areas into national mainstream. “Today tribal people get-rid of an outdated system of governance, where people had been kept deprived of legal, political and civic rights since long,” they said, adding they would not be at the mercy of political agents furthermore.
They said that the bill would empower tribesmen economically, legal and politically by enabling their representatives to enact laws as per their needs. They suggested of taking immediate steps to improve infrastructure including health, potable, agriculture and educational institutions in tribal areas. Tribal elders Shahid Shinwari and Malik Mumtaz Khan also praised passing of the bill and termed it a historic step.