Former President Asif Ali Zardari has deplored that the FATA reforms package announced with fanfare in August last year has fizzled out as a political stunt and warned that ignoring political reforms in the tribal areas would exhaust the patience of the people and will be detrimental to national cohesion and integrity.
He said this while talking to a delegation of FATA parliamentarians who called on him in Zardari House in Islamabad Friday afternoon.
The FATA MPs delegation included MNs Shahjee Gul Afridi and Sajid Turi and Senator Sajid Turi. Head of PPP FATA chapter Akhunzada Chattan, Senator Sardar Ali Khan, Provincial Information Secretary PPP Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and Political Secretary Rukhsana Bangash were also present in the meeting.
Deploring that the government had gone back on the reforms package Shahjee Gul Afridi MNA said that they planned to hold protest demonstrations and an All Parties Conference to work out strategy for merger of tribal areas in KPK and for reforms implementation and also invited the former President to join their effort.
Zardari said the PPP had flung opened the door of reforms in FATA in 2011 by announcing far reaching changes in the draconian FCR as well as opening tribal areas to political activities and jalsas by all political parties adding also that the Party will be happy to participate in any endeavor that FATA MPs may devise for pushing for reforms.
Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the former President has already asked the Party Parliamentarians to rejects the proposed Riwaj Act as against basic human rights and being inconsistent with the goal of FATA merger in the province of KPK.
Zardari said that the powers of the President to legislate for FATA without the participation of its people and the draconian FCR were two colonial structures which must be demolished by transferring the powers to legislate for FATA to the Parliament.
For mainstreaming FATA needs to be merged in KPK, he said and recalled that KPK provincial Assembly has passed unanimous resolution. The elected Parliamentarians of FATA were also in favour of merger. All political parties with the exception of two have endorsed merger. By and large the people of tribal areas have, on various platforms, called for merger in the province.
The government and those opposing reforms and merger are doing a great disservice to the nation , he said. By denying the people of tribal areas their rights and wishes these elements are playing with fire he said.
Former President Zardari also called for strong local governments in FATA for the empowerment of its people. He said that the reforms were announced in Aug 2016 but it took over eight months for cabinet to approve in March 17. Despite reservations about the package everyone hailed the move to reform FATA.
But the Bills brought in National Assembly the other day negated the reforms process. Jurisdiction of superior courts was not extended to FATA, as was promised. The Riwaj Act, instead of abolishing the FCR, has further strengthened the century old draconian law.
The draft Riwaj Act was never made public despite demands from stake holders. As a matter of fact the government has brazenly gone back on the promised merger of FATA with KPK. Now it talks of ‘mainstreaming’ instead of merger.
It has also gone back on the promise to empower people. Neither the Local Government Bill has been shared with political parties nor brought before NA. The PPP will not permit the government to roll back the FATA reforms process, he said. —NNI