When Shahid Khaqan Abbasi took up the office of the Prime Minister of the country, he pledged to do all he could to bring about successful mainstreaming of FATA. At a time when the issue of implementation of FATA reforms was becoming a heated one, and the PML-N government had started facing intense criticism for being vague on the issue, the primer clarified the party’s stance and reiterated his dedication on implementing the much needed reforms in FATA.

At that time, we had warned PML-N on the dangers of being lazy on FATA. It was a legitimate and genuine issue of the people of FATA, and it needed proper recognition and work. We reiterated the need for diligent and responsive work on FATA, not just perfunctory and impulsive. We accepted PML-N’s explanation that the mainstreaming must surely but carefully happen, and we gave them all the time for it.

Nine months later, however, at the right end of the government’s term, FATA’s mainstreaming is an untouched cause. At the fag end of his term, the PM recalls the FATA issue, and stated that the government desired to see implementation of the Fata reforms package before completion of its five-year term on May 31.

Though everyone in parliament may have forgotten about it for the last eight months, it seems we might see implementation of the FATA reforms before June after all. The PM appears determined to see it through, as he stated that he had taken a number of key decisions and finalised the timeline for various actions required to be taken for mainstreaming of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Is it a little too late? It is sad indeed that the government did not heed the advice to take the FATA issue to heart at the right time. Our lawmakers should have had the political foresight to sense the consequences of an unstable FATA, and should never have let it become a political issue. The FATA reforms were treated left hanging on a thread by the government and opposition alike; when the issue was no longer heated, it was left neglected by all parties.