PESHAWAR -  Tribal elders of Khyber Agency have criticised the federal government for withdrawal of Fata Reforms Bill from the agenda of National Assembly’s ongoing session, and termed it a ‘drone attack’ on the tribal people.

While addressing a news conference at Peshawar Press Club on Wednesday, tribal elder Muhammad Irfan of Kokikhel tribe said that exclusion of the bill, aimed at extending the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the Peshawar High Court to Fata, from the agenda of National Assembly was a sheer injustice to the militancy-hit people of the tribal areas.

He viewed that tribesmen had been deprived of their fundamental rights due to the imposition of draconian Frontier Crime Regulations (FCR) in Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

The tribal elder said that Fata was deliberately kept backward in all fields wherein education, health and basic infrastructure had been badly damaged during the prolonged militancy and war on terror.  A large number of tribal people, he said, had been displaced from their respective areas and confronted with numerous difficulties at makeshift camps in settled parts of the province, he added.

“We want all constitutional rights for the tribal people as enshrined to citizens of rest parts of the country and merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” Irfan Kokikhel said, adding but some of the people try to declare the tribal people as rebels.

He added tribal people were not terrorists, rather patriotic citizens of the country who had rendered unforgettable sacrifices for the motherland. He asked the government not to play with the sentiments of the tribal people.

Flanked by tribal elders from Koki Khel tribe, Haji Fazal, Haji Malik Jan, Haji Zaina Gul and others, Irfan alleged that Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-F chief Fazl-ur-Rahman and PkMAP Mehmood Khan Achakzai were bringing hurdles in development and progress of FATA. Both the leaders, he alleged, had blocked the way of merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through their alliance with the ruling PML-N for their vested interests.

The tribal elder also alleged that Fazl-ur-Rahman and Achakzai on dictations of certain external forces were showing opposition towards Pakhtuns unity. He said the JUI-F chief is demanding in public gatherings for declaring Fata as a separate province, but he has failed to launch any organized movement over this issue.

He said the JUI-F and PkMAP leaders were using various tactics to protect and support imposition of the black law-FCR in the tribal region.

The tribal elders vowed that they would stop the way of anti-tribesmen leaders to be elected again in general elections 2018. He also reiterated that they would intensify their ongoing movement for complete repeal of FCR and merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa under the leadership of Fata parliamentarian, Shah Jee Gul Afridi.

He also demanded the Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to play his role in removing the darkness from FATA forever and open a new chapter of development and progress by merging Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.