Jamiat-i-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal’s (JUI-F) contentious stance against the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is a classic example of political parties blocking a sensible move to satiate personal political aims. JUI-F’s stance is to grant FATA the status of an individual province instead of merging it into KPK, terming the merger a ‘conspiracy against the tribal people’. How how this is conspiratorial is anyone’s guess.

A merger with KPK is FATA’s best bet at bringing it up to speed with the rest of the country – both in terms of development and granting the people their due rights. Everyone (including JUI-F) agrees that abolishing the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) is the utmost priority. Once that is done, the people of FATA will not immediately begin to prosper as a result. The region lags behind the rest of the country, and leaving it to its own devices after the abolition of FCR is simply not the best way to go about this.

After inalienable rights such as the right to a fair trial and prevention against detention when a person has not even committed a crime have been granted, FATA needs to implement all of Pakistan’s infrastructure – its courts, legislative bodies, local governance system, roads, educational institutions and healthcare facilities among other public services – and allowing for a power vacuum to be created if it is granted the status of an independent province does not make sense.

In any case, political parties that disagree with a proposition should offer up arguments as to why they disagree, and suggest counter-solutions with reasons for their choice. In Pakistan, there is no such debate, with parties sticking to their stance without clear justifications – other than the classic ‘because we said so’ attitude – which only conflates an already complicated issue. FATA’s future is not something to be taken lightly, the implications to Pakistan’s internal security notwithstanding, its people have suffered for long enough and they deserve to be treated as equal citizens of Pakistan. Merging the region with KPK would be the best way to do that.