Step toward FATA mainstreaming

IN an important development, federal government on Saturday reportedly extended Police Act 1861 to Federally Administered Tribal Areas giving policing powers to the levies force in the region. After approval by President Mamnoon Hussain, policing powers and judicial structure along the lines of Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been imposed in the tribal areas.
We understand this is the first step towards streamlining the security mechanism in the region under the FATA reforms package, prepared by Sartaj Aziz led committee after protracted and long consultation process with the tribal people. As far as security apparatus in the tribal areas is concerned, the committee had maintained that twenty thousand additional security men would be deployed in the areas hit hard by militancy in recent years. We understand a well thought out plan should also be chalked out for the recruitment as well as proper training of the security personnel according to modern day requirements. Since population density in FATA is very low, therefore, those entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining law and order should be equipped with quick mobility and latest communication facilities. This is also vital in order to build the image and trust of the tribal people on the law enforcers. Along with this, the federal government also needs to speed up efforts towards fulfilling other promises made under the reforms package that includes complete abolishment of FCR and development of tribal areas in order to bring them at par with other areas of the country. The other day, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch while responding to points of order in the lower house had stated that PM on his return from the US will either address the nation or make a policy statement on FATA reforms. According to him, the reforms are no longer an issue. Tribal people have already suffered a lot in the post 9/11 scenario and they are now looking towards government to heal their wounds. Any apathy or delaying the process of reforms for some political expediency may have disastrous consequences. It is therefore appropriate time that tribal people are given their due rights and status. For this, all political parties need to fully back the process in order to bring a genuine change in the life of FATA people.

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