On Nov 8, 2015, the prime minister announced the formation of a Fata Reforms Committee headed by his adviser on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz. Since then 10 million people’s hopes for the future rest on the shoulders of these five people. The members of the Fata Reforms Committee visited Landikotal to seek the views of people on the course of action that Fata should take. They were in turn met with robust protests by political and civil society activists who wanted abolition of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) and claimed they were kept in the dark about the nature of the proceedings.

If this committee is to be successful in its mission to change the status of the people of Fata who have long suffered due to militancy, the opinion and inclusion of the community is the most important aspect. The Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) – that the people so vehemently oppose, and rightly so - comprise a special set of laws that states that three basic rights are not applicable to the residents of FATA – appeal, wakeel and daleel (the right to request a change to a conviction in any court, the right to legal representation and the right to present reasoned evidence, respectively). This is a blatant and outrageous rejection of basic human rights and must be done away with at the earliest.

The committee has the following important tasks ahead of them; the decision on jurisdiction of the superior courts to Fata, shifting the legislative powers for the tribal areas from the hands of the administration of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and most importantly deciding if Fata should be made part of mainstream K-P or of the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) in K-P or if it should be given the status of a province of Pakistan. The popular sentiment echoes to be part of KP and hence that is what should ultimately be respected. The sooner the PML-N resolves this predicament the sooner it can begin lobbying for support for its CPEC projects in the area.