While every other political party in Pakistan has Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) on its agenda, but when it comes implementation of policies no party has succeeded so far. The ruling party along with all political parties decided to mainstream the region last year. However, succumbing to the pressure put on it by its allies, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) recently retracted the proposed Riwaj Bill.

On the other hand, people of the area and political parties except for Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI-F) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) are eager to see FATA as part of province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Desperate to watch their representatives in the KP provincial assembly next year, the people of the region have staged a sit-in around D-Chowk in Islamabad. Almost all political parties and notables from the area have this one demand from the federal government: Merge FATA with KP and abolish the notorious Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR).

It is high time for the government to accept the legitimate demand of the people. The demands are completely justified. If what the people are asking for is accepted, a step in mainstreaming of the region will be taken. Though the Prime Minister Khaqan Abbasi, directed the concerned authorities to fast-track the process of FATA’s merger after the Dharna, the protestors are not completely sold on the promises. That people have occupied the D-Chowk indicates that tribesmen and political parties are not satisfied with the government made promises and declaration. People see all these announcements and promises as empty rhetoric.

The present situation was not unexpected. For a long time, there was a growing resentment in the people of the area over the status of the region and its people. It is another instance where the government has shown for the lack of diligence and a commitment to its vision. The irony in the present case is that people are trying to put pressure on the government for implementation of an agenda that the government launched itself – this is another crisis of the government’s own making.

The government needs to fast-track the process, at least the legal and administrative aspects of the scheme. Development projects will take some time. By and large, political consensus on the mainstreaming of FATA is there. The only obstacles in the present case are JUI-F and PkMAP. Along with the tribesmen, the political parties are also pressurizing the government for completing the task of mainstreaming the region with KP. People through the sit-in have shown the people that they are willing to take to the streets. The government has no excuse left but to accept people’s demands.