PESHAWAR – A ‘Grand Tribal Jirga’ under the auspices of Jamiat Ulema-e-Isalm-Fazl will begin today (Sunday) in Peshawar, in which the participants will mull whether Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) should be declared a separate province or be merged in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Delegates from all the seven tribal agencies and Frontier Regions (FRs) will attend the jirga, which will be held at Nishtar Hall, for which all the arrangements have already been finalised. JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman will also deliver an address on the occasion.

The delegates from Fata will mainly comprise people from different walks of life including MNAs, senators, lawyers, social workers, politicians, doctors, students, academicians and prominent tribal elders. About 100 JUI-F volunteers would provide security to the jirga.

Speakers from tribal areas would share their recommendations with the jirga, under which the JUI-F would take a stand regarding Fata’s future status - whether it should be declared a separate province or be merged in KPK. Amidst tight security arrangements, the jirga’s formal proceedings would commence at 9:00 am.

Though, different political parties have different views over Fata’s future, but all of them agreed that time has come to bring this ill-governed area into main stream politics. Except a few, almost all political and religious parties were favouring the idea that viewpoints of Fata’s dwellers must be incorporated prior to make any decision regarding the future status of tribal areas. A race among political parties over Fata’s future position is on since long. However, most of the parties jumped into it after the extension of PPO-2002 to tribal areas last year.

As under the PPO-2002, political activities, party based elections, election campaigns are allowed in Fata.  To renew itself on tribesmen viewpoint, and later evolve a strategy on Fata’s future in the light of jirga’s recommendations, this time, the JUI-F is holding the event.

Indeed, differences among tribesmen also exist over Fata’s future status. 

Some of them demand declaration of Fata as a separate province, while others suggest that it should be merged with KPK.

Moreover, the KPK Assembly has recently passed a resolution unanimously asking the federal government to make legislation for giving representation to tribal areas in the KP assembly.