Important major decision of the Federal Cabinet in its last meeting earlier this month to merge Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with KPK and approval of number of constitutional and other measures for mainstreaming the FATA people by effecting and implementing massive reforms in a gradual manner over the next ten years is indeed a way forward.
The Federal Cabinet considered the comprehensive recommendations made by FATA Reforms Committee covering almost all aspects and approved these thus paving the way for bringing the people of FATA into the mainstream and giving them right to elect their representatives to the national and provincial assemblies.
It is a historical fact that the people of FATA had long been not given their fundamental rights like people of rest of Pakistan though some attempts were made couple of times after lapse of many years each time.
As per the history of FATA reforms, which also forms of FATA Reforms Committee, headed by Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, first serious attempt in this regard was made when Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto constituted a committee for creating a framework so that FATA could become a part of NWFP for general elections in March 1977. However, it was decided to take up the issue after the elections. Quite unfortunately, this did not happen because of military coup staged by then Army Chief General Ziaul Haq overthrowing Mr Bhutto’s government in July 1977.
In all fairness the much demanded matter has somehow been delayed till now and due credit should be given to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for setting up the FATA Reforms Committee in November 2015 which had made its recommendations and same have been approved by the federal cabinet. Though these recommendations are being criticised by some quarters who demand that reforms be introduced and implemented forthwith. They, however, do not realise that transformation of the whole system which had governed FATA for these years in a smooth manner over the next five years taking into considerations ground realities and bringing FATA people into mainstream will be more formidable and practical.
If what had not been done for almost seven decades is happening now should rather be welcomed and let the people of FATA come into the mainstream and start enjoying fundamental rights like other people of Pakistan. The major way forward on which the present government has embarked should not be blocked and interrupted merely for political scoring and let process of happening of good things continnue.