With bringing Rewaj Act to the parliament, although a controversial bill, the assumption was that the federal government was serious in mainstreaming the most neglected part of this country – the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA). However, reports indicate that the government has made its mind to withdraw the said act. Such a move will stop all relevant bodies from working on the reform agenda of FATA. With retraction of the bill, the fear is that the reforms process will also discontinue.
While informing the committee on the fate of FATA, Minister of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), Abdul Qadir Baloch revealed the real bone of contention between civil and military leadership. Every institution of the state wants the maximum share for itself in the development process. The government locking horns with the military on the development of the area is a case in point of an African proverb that says, “When elephants fight it is the grass that suffers the most.” Only the people will suffer. However, instead of putting a halt to the much-needed process of mainstreaming what the government needs to do is to raise its concern over the matter in parliament.
The government, to protect its narrow interest, as it does not want to antagonize its coalition parties mainly Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI-F) and Pukhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), is only making the whole process stagnant. So far, the only voice that seems interested in repealing the draconian laws of the colonial era is the relevant parliamentary committee.
Consultation with other political parties or disagreement between state and one of its institutions should not stop the process of mainstreaming the region. Remarks from Farhat Ullah Babar are important to consider that the process of mainstreaming can even be carried without Riwaj act’s promulgation and that the said act is not much different from Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR). The government needs to give a thought to the words of members of the parliamentary committee.