ISLAMABAD - Expressing serious concerns over the way the government has been trying to get the Fata reforms package through the Parliament, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman grilled government for not fulfilling the promises made with them in this regard.

Talking to the media, the JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is also part of the coalition government, demanded of the prime minister to honour the commitment made with them in this connection and to implement it in true letter and spirit.

Sources aware of the developments taking place on this front informed The Nation that the JUI-F chief had also talked to the prime minister on telephone who was on a foreign visit, and following his telephonic conversation the legislation process on Rewaj Bill 2017 was deferred till his return.

Sources in the JUI-F said that they would not let the government implement the Fata reforms on its own as the matter was related to the people of the Fata and without their consent and approval the status of those areas could not be altered.

The JUI-F and some other political stakeholders in the Fata were against the merger of these areas in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and in this connection they wanted the government to hold referendum in these areas so that the people could themselves decide about their fate and future.

The Fata MNA, Shah Jee Gul Afridi, was one of the proponents of the Fata merger with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and wanted replacement of the FCR with proposed Rewaj Act to give more rights to the people of those restive areas who were facing the brunt of the war on terror for well over past two decades.

Talking to a private television channel, Afridi confirmed that the JUI-F chief had talked to the prime minister to lodge his protest over the way his party was dealing with the Fata reforms agenda contrary to the agreement made with them.

Later, the prime minister passed on the direction to the party leadership to halt the process of legislation on the Fata reforms particularly Rewaj Bill 2017 to replace the Frontier Crimes Regulation(FCR) to improve the human rights conditions in these areas.

Shah Jee Gul Afridi confirmed that the Federal Minister for SAFRON Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch had informed him about Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s talk with the prime minister who had later directed the party leaders to defer the matter of legislation till his return.

The Fata parliamentarians had previously threatened the government to do legislation on the Fata reforms package by May 20th, otherwise the Fata MPs would launch a protest march on the federal capital and would stage a sit-in.

The federal cabinet last month had given approval to the Fata reforms and it was decided that Rewaj Bill 2017 would be introduced in the parliament to replace the FCR in those areas.

It had given a timeline of five years for merger of these areas with the KP.

The reforms package came under severe criticism from many quarters with the JUI-F and the PkMAP both allies of the PML-N in the federal government had rejected it, and said that before taking any final decision about the fate of the people of the Fata a referendum should be conducted in these areas on it.

Sources in the JUI-F informed The Nation that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had given some assurances to both Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Mahmood Khan Achakzai but later at the time of presentation of the Rewaj Bill 2017 and other reforms package before the parliament, the concerns of the JUI-F and PkMAP were not fully addressed.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman in a media chat on Wednesday said that instead of imposing Rewaj of some particular area of the Fata on the whole of the territory, the government should introduce Shariah, which was the demand of all the people inhabiting those areas.

He made it clear that they would not let the government play with the fate of the people of the Fata and would go to any extend to secure their rights.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 18-May-2017 here.