ISLAMABAD - Members of the FATA Reforms Committee are set to embark on the North Waziristan Agency’s visit tomorrow (Monday) and will hold three sessions to take input of hundreds of people from all walks of life as part of the government’s plan to mainstream the volatile region. The 5-member committee headed by Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz will meet the tribal elders, students, intellectuals, traders and political workers in Khajoori village situated at the entry point to North Waziristan.

A spokesman FOR Ministry of States and Frontier Region (SAFRON) told The Nation that the committee has asked the political administration in North Waziristan to invite maximum number of students so that the educated and young segments in the tribal agency could be heard what exactly reforms meant to them. The meeting (jirga) will be held in the Government Degree College Khajoori where the committee will take input of the area people in three sessions. First it will meet tribal elders, then traders, business community and political workers will be addressed and finally students will be asked to share their suggestions about the reforms.

This will be the third tribal agency the FATA Reforms Committee will be visiting after holding jirgas with tribal people in Bajaur and Mohmand agencies. On November 8 last year, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had formed a committee tasked to undertake reforms in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas aimed at bringing the area people into mainstream national politics. With Advisor for National Security Sartaj Aziz as its head, its members include Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Sardar Mehtab, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Lt Gen (Retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, Prime Minister's Advisor on National Security Nasir Janjua and Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid.

Though Sartaj Aziz and Advisor on National Security Nasir Janjua are currently abroad on official tour, officials in SAFRON ministry said they will hopefully return on Sunday and will be in NWA by Monday. The committee has been mandated to hold consultations with all the stakeholders before preparing and presenting its recommendations about reforms in the restive tribal agencies. After military offensive Zarb-e-Azb was launched by the government on June 15, 2014, maximum number of people fled the North Waziristan Agency. According to SAFRON, over 90,000 families left the volatile region to escape the military operation.

A source in the ministry said so far only 10,000 families have returned to the tribal area while as many as 80,000 families belonging to NWA still reside in shelters in other parts of the country with maximum number living temporarily in Bannu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The FATA Reforms Committee builds consensus among the stakeholders on four segments, including status quo in FATA, merger of tribal areas with KP, separate province and FATA council. Officials involved in the consultation phase said tribal people wanted reforms but insisted that Riwaj’ or tribal customs should not be compromised as the area people had attached associations with the good tribal customs for ages.

To a question that who will give security clearance to the committee keeping in view the hundreds of people that will meet the government’s delegation in NWA, an official said the military has been tasked to individually check the people that will meet the jirga. “The political administration has already started collecting data of the individuals that will be part of the jirga to be held on Monday. Moreover, the military personnel check the people on entrance,” he said.