Ambiguity over FATA reforms

ARMY Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited South Waziristan on Sunday and praised security forces for their bravery and commitment that enabled re-establishment of state authority. He also assured that the Army would continue its efforts for the purpose while also supporting mainstreaming of the region by government as per aspirations of the local tribes.
The armed forces have done their job and are committed to consolidate the gains but the achievement would not pay required dividends if we are unable to carry out reforms for mainstreaming FATA through a combination of legal, administrative and financial measures. It was in this backdrop that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif constituted a committee headed by Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz to explore options for reforms. The committee took considerable time and then came out with its recommendations but now government is taking too much time in deciding their fate. It is because of this delay that some parties especially those belonging to KPK are politicising the issue. While ANP leader Asfandyar Wali and Qaumai Watan Party chief Aftab Sherpao are pressurising government for announcing merger of the region with KPK, Maulana Fazlur Rehman is against such a move without first taking people of FATA on board. According to him, the issue of merger is no more on the agenda and now options for mainstreaming the region would be explored and a decision taken. Recommendations of the Committee and views of different political parties apart, it is of foremost importance that will of the people of FATA must be ascertained even if it meant holding a Referendum to determine their fate. If the majority wanted to merge with KPK then there is no harm in doing so but if the majority is not agreeable to the option then other options should be exercised. Anyhow, there should be no delay in finalising any option as time is ripe for reforms and the authorities concerned must not waste the opportunity.

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