Dirty politics over FATA reforms

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THE PML (N) government, on Monday, fulfilled its commitment by introducing the much-awaited Rewaj Bill aimed at mainstreaming of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and consequential Constitutional Amendment that would add 23 seats for FATA to KP provincial assembly. The reforms package was introduced in the lower house as per directions of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who had asked the Law Ministry to take practical steps for implementation of recommendations of the FATA Reforms Committee, headed by veteran Sartaj Aziz.
People of FATA have been demanding fundamental reforms to replace the colonial Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) and different political parties have also been endorsing their aspirations for understandable reasons. It is, however, strange that when government moved firmly towards realisation of the objective of bringing the tribal areas at par with other regions of the country, some of the parties are creating obstacles in the way. JUI (F) of Maulana Fazlur Rehman is coalition partner of the ruling PML (N) and has been enjoying perks and benefits of being in power but it opposed the reforms package tooth and nail and the Maulana had bitter exchange of words with Shahji Gul Afridi of FATA. He adopted a threatening tone and said his party will not allow anyone bargaining of people of FATA. Fazlur Rehman’s stance is purely based on self-centred considerations, as he is opposed to merger of the area with KP because of political factors. But Fazal’s opposition was not queer as previously too he fiercely opposed recommendations of FATA Reforms Committee. However, the position adopted by PPP and its leaders Syed Khurshid Shah and Asif Ali Zardari has perplexed many. PPP has been claiming to be championing the cause of people of FATA but now it is opposing government’s move fearing that the credit would go to PML (N). This would be worst kind of betrayal with people of FATA and history would not forgive those who obstruct implementation of viable reforms’ package. PPP has been favouring repeal of FCR, merger of FATA with KP and extension of writ of the Supreme Court, Peshawar High Court to the region but now it wants to undermine the same move on frivolous considerations of credit taking. One might ask why the PPP could not achieve anything concrete on the issue of FATA reforms during its entire tenure? We hope sanity would prevail and opportunity afforded by government by presenting the package before the National Assembly would not be lost.