Merger of FATA & Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
The National Assembly Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions revealed that none of the stakeholders was willing to take responsibility for the complete merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Members of the committee discussed the Fata reforms and the proposed Rewaj Bill to replace the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR), but failed to reach an agreement instead continuing to offer contradictory ideas over the procedures to merge FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
While three special invitees supported the abolishment of the proposed Rewaj Bill and called for the implementation of Pakistani laws in FATA with immediate effect, some members called for the implementation of Sharia laws in the tribal areas to replace the Frontier Crimes Regulations and others demanded the establishment of an additional committee to discuss the matter.
However, briefing the committee Minister for States and Frontier Regions said that the government has been discussing the matter with all the stakeholders for more than two (2) years and the Rewaj Bill has been formulated to address the concerns of local FATA residents.
Even though the Frontier Crimes Regulations offer speedy justice, our system has a very slow process, therefore the local citizens might reject drastic change. There have been meetings where even the Army Chief has expressed support for the merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and its mainstreaming.
However, members belonging to the JUI-F have stressed the need for further discussion over the matter on grounds that any decision taken in haste would ruin the lives of future generations of the people of Fata.
While the Minister repeatedly stressed that the decision was to be taken by the committee and Parliament, the PML-N member of National Assembly from Bajaur Agency, denounced his own party leadership stating that FATA could be merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through a Presidential Order.
There has also been a call for scrapping the idea of Rewaj Bill altogether and early merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
As all sides tried to ‘throw the ball into each other’s court’ and all groups claimed that majority of their members were supporting their point of view, the committee’s chairman announced that there should be another meeting for voting on the matter.
The committee approved annual allowance of Rs3 million for the heirs of princely states that acceded to Pakistan at the time of independence.