When I first read about Fata in my history lessons, I wanted to laugh at the name, which sounded funny to me. I always thought that the people of Fata were free like the people of Pakistan. It was only recently that I realized that the people of Fata were downtrodden and poor. It is only now that I found out that the laws enacted in Fata region are actually the same that were enforced by the British when they wanted to control the restless Pushtun tribes.

The FCR law infringes on three main citizen rights, that is, appeal and a recourse to justice, as it prevails in other parts of the country. This basically means that anyone can be charged for any crime. It also allows the arrest of any citizen without specifying the crime, collective punishment to families or tribal members for crimes committed by others, judgement and punishment by tribal jirga are part of this outdated law. The law also holds accountable the Tribal chiefs for handing over suspects, while no questions are asked.

Shockingly, the leaders of our great nation and our many Pushtun leaders have in the past 60 years never tried to repeal the FCR law or even present a new law that could be more beneficial to the people of Fata.

It is sad to think that for the past 60 years, while the rest of Pakistan was celebrating their freedom, the people of Fata were still living under the oppressed laws of the debunked British empire.

It is high time these laws were cancelled and new laws brought in. Fata now has a large population, big towns and some commercial activities can be seen. And with the expanding population of the tribes, it is difficult to govern the population through the tribal jirga, elders or Political Agents. The region needs to be included into Pakistan and therefore the laws of Pakistan should be applicable to it. The people of Fata should have the same set of opportunities as the rest of the citizens of Pakistan.

The recent decade of unrest and ‘invasion’ of sectarian terrorists into the region just highlights the need for a change. The locals of the region willingly funded and helped Taliban forces, that promised them any change. In Swat, the locals gave their jewellery and savings to the Taliban forces because they offered them Justice and new opportunities.

The government of Pakistan should repeal the British FCR law and instead include Fata, FR (Frontier Regions) and even Pata (Provincial Administered Tribal Areas) into Pakistan, allowing the same laws, benefits, and opportunities as enjoyed by everyone else in Pakistan. This will also help improve the security and economical activities in these regions, which will benefit Pakistan. And with the settlement of Afghanistan and withdrawal of NATO troops, improvements in security in Fata region is in the best interest of our nation.

SHAHRYAR KHAN BASEER,

Peshawar, December 18.