PM’s commitment to FATA

SPEAKING in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi stated that the process of mainstreaming FATA would be completed by end of the current term of the National Assembly. The measures he enumerated to realise this objective meant that govt, despite time constraints, is determined to do as much as possible to address issue of FATA reforms.
Parliament has already enacted a law, extending jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and Peshawar High Court to FATA as part of the reform process. However, the practical implementation of the move would take some time to materialise because of administrative and legal issues involved. The most important part of the reforms is political empowerment of FATA people who have long been denied some of the fundamental rights. In this backdrop, PM’s announcement that local government elections in FATA would be held by October this year is reassuring. But for that to happen, the Federal and KP governments will have to make necessary preparations to make the exercise a success. Presence of local governments would mean the tribal people will get an opportunity to have a say in their own affairs and for the first time they would be deciding their priorities for themselves. The Prime Minister was not that categorical in giving timeframe for holding elections to provincial and national assembly seats from FATA, adding that this would be decided through consultations among political parties. The question arises if we would be able to hold local government elections in about five months then why not make arrangements for election against provincial and national assembly seats along with polls for other parts of the country. There is much work to do and the present assembly has just 28 days at its disposal during which it has to debate and pass the budget for the next financial year. However, Prime Minister Abbasi has a reputation of being man of word and therefore, it is hoped that substantial progress would be achieved for mainstreaming FATA during remaining period of his government.

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