People of FATA have been suffering for a long time not only due to notorious terrorism but also because of long negligence of government and backwardness of their area not having basic facilities like proper educational institutions, health services and better communication tools. Due to the above mentioned reasons, people of FATA are much behind the other Pakistani people in education and other fields of life and scores of them are still living their lives as internally displaced people. Addressing the grievances of FATA has been a major issue for establishment and governmental institutions. With the passage of time, there has been addition in already existing bulk of different ilk of troubles.

Now indicators are suggesting it’s no longer possible for the government to continue its cavalier approach towards tribal areas, and ‘merger of FATA’ in the being called ‘mainstreaming FATA’ clearly sounds like a response to the indicators that show a ‘worsened’ situation of tribal people. It’s good that the government has finally realised the sensitive matter that with every passing minute seems to be going out of the hand.

A cabinet committee containing six people and headed by Sartaj Aziz announced that whilst considering the mainstreaming of FATA, they opted for a merger of FATA out of all options (the other options were keeping the status quo or making FATA a separate province). Although it’s a good initiative towards progress but it has many issues. Some issues are raised by the provincial government of KPK, while some other issues, which are totally different in nature from that of issues raised by CM of KPK are raised by JUI-F and some tribal leaders including Malik Syed Mehmood Jan and Malik Nasrat Khan who rejected the FATA merger and instead sought a referendum to decide about the tribal people, saying that decision of FATA merger is being imposed on tribespeople. JUI-F chief opined the same. “The federal cabinet has decided it (the merger of FATA) with a malafide intension.”

On the other hand, the CM of KPK Pervaiz Khattak in a conference talked about ‘anomalies’ present in the proposed plan of cabinet committee. “There’s no use of electing members of assembly from FATA as they (assembly members from FATA) won’t be able to make laws,” he noted. He also questioned, that when FATA would be merged in KPK, will there be the same assembly then with separate Senators from FATA? He objected that till five years, funds and other matters like legislation will be in the hands of the governor, which according to him seems to mean that FATA would still would be governed by the federal government instead of provincial government. He demanded to remove such ‘anomalies’ from the process of merging FATA with KPK. Moreover, he urged government to merge FATA completely in 2018 instead of the completion of this process in five years.

Keeping in the mind the above mentioned concerns of different political parties and tribes people, the government should take a few more steps to mainstream FATA in a true sense. Government should directly contact the tribes and listen to their point of view and take their consent so that they may not feel that merger of FATA is an ‘alien’ decision being imposed on them forcefully. Without it, there will be the possibility of a situation without chaos, fear and anger. All political parties should also negotiate with the government over their concerns. The government would’ve no choice but to listen to them and bring positive changes in the proposed plan. This time, the government and all political parties and establishment have to be sincere to work for the people of FATA instead of benefiting personal and political aims or playing proxies, otherwise, we’ll be facing another drastic and unstable era in FATA that our already vulnerable nation can’t afford.