ISLAMABAD - Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani yesterday remarked that Fata Secretariat and Ministry of Safron (State and Frontier Regions) did not want reforms in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas because they had vested interests in the existing system.
“The Fata Secretariat and Ministry of Safron have vested interests in the existing system in Fata as black economy worth billion of rupees is involved and as long as the linkages among these vested interests are not broken, the process of reforms cannot proceed further,” Rabbani said while chairing the Committee of Whole of the Senate.
The meeting of the Committee of the Whole, constituted on a motion moved by leader of the opposition to consider ‘legislative, administrative and other measures required for mainstreaming and ensuring constitutional rights to the people of Fata’, was held here on Tuesday in the Senate Hall.
The committee considered the report of the Committee on Fata Reforms 2016 laid in the Senate on September 27. A number of lawmakers took part in the discussion.
The chairman said that senators had discussed the constitutional, legal and historic as well as administrative aspects of the Fata. He, however, clarified that the views expressed by the individual senators were not views of the Senate. As per procedure, the Committee of the Whole after due deliberation will compile its report on the issue which will be presented in the house. “After the adoption of the report of the Committee of the Whole by the upper house, it may be termed the recommendations and stance of the Senate,” he said.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, who is also chairman of the Fata Reforms Committee, in his remarks said that it would take five years to merge Fata in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the light of the report. “This is because that in this five-year transitional period, the constitutional, legal and administrative reforms will be brought in Fata,” he said.
He said the local bodies election process, reconstruction and the capacity building in Fata were the immediate requirements, however, many measures were required on constitutional and legal aspects. He highlighted salient features of the report and said that committee wanted the cabinet to endorse its report.
“There is need to train 20,000 Levies personnel to maintain the writ of the government in Fata,” he said highlighting points of the report. He added that model cities should be established in the region to provide employment to the people of the area. “It has been recommended that three percent of the total share of National Finance Commission Award should be allocated for Fata,” he said.
Federal Minister for Law Zahid Hamid informed that five basic reforms were urgently required in Fata areas including extending the jurisdiction of Supreme Court and high court, abolition of FCR (Frontier Crimes Regulations) and introduction of the Riwaj Act.
Earlier, the senators, while taking part in the debate, expressed their views on Fata reforms and the report of the committee.
Senator Hidayat Ullah said Fata had been termed a threat to the whole world and the people of the Fata had been disappointed on this. He said the political agents used to present a wrong picture of the Jirga system, which complicated the issues.
“Land settlement system in Fata is very effective and the proposal of the committee to change this will further create problems. Even the funds received under the Kerry - Lugar Bill have not been spent sincerely in this area,” he added. He demanded separate quota of jobs for the Fata people.
Senator Aurangzeb said they were not against Fata reforms but there should be a fresh census. He said Fata reforms were future of the people of the area, however, the tribals wanted a transparent reforms process.
Senator Taj Muhammad Afridi said the reforms proposed by the Fata Reforms Committee would further complicate the issue for Fata people who were disappointed over this report. He said terrorism, extremism and lawlessness had handicapped the whole system as the power had been grabbed from the people by bureaucracy which had badly affected the tribal people. He demanded a proper mechanism for disbursement of the funds to be given under the National Finance Commission. He said that Fata had been deprived of funds for years and there was need for expeditious development in the area.
Senator Saleh Shah asked for the review of the report and said that there were many contradictions in the FATA Reforms Committee report. He said majority was against merger of the Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Senator Nauman Wazir viewed that the reforms process was very slow and the rights of the people of the Fata had not been properly projected.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed suggested that Fata must be connected with the CPEC Project.
Senator Rubina Khalid suggested prompt changes in FCR especially with regard to the collective responsibility. Senator Hafiz Moulana Hamdullah said that five out of eight agencies of Fata did not agree with the Reforms Committee report and the merger with the KP was being opposed. In the said committee report, he said, there was no member representing the Fata. He said the common man should be consulted on this issue.
Safron Ministry stalling Fata reforms process: Rabbani