ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s northern borderlands people have been rid of the century-old draconian law, Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), as President Mamnoon Hussain signed the new set of rules for the region – Fata Interim Governance Regulation, 2018.

The 'FATA Interim Governance Regulation, 2018' is a set of interim rules that apply to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) until it merges with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa "within a timeframe of two years".

However, the president will have the jurisdiction over Fata and the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas until he signs Constitution (Thirty-First) Amendment Bill, 2018, which proposes abolishment of Article 247 of the Constitution. As per Article 247, the executive authority of the federation shall extend to Fata and Pata.

However, as soon as the president signs Constitution (Thirty-First) Amendment Bill, 2018, the control of Fata Interim Governance Regulation, 2018 would be handed over to the KP government.

The bill was passed by KP Assembly on Sunday in its final phase. The bill was passed with two-thirds majority, after it was already approved from the upper and lower chambers of the Parliament. As many as 92 lawmakers in the KP Assembly voted in favour, while seven MPAs used their votes against the bill.

The landmark bill will bring the tribal borderlands comprising seven agencies and six frontier regions within ambit of the higher courts. The National Assembly and Senate passed the bill last week.

In the lower house, the bill was moved by Minister for Law and Justice Chaudhry Mahmood Bashir Virk. Two hundred and twenty-nine parliamentarians voted in favour of the constitutional amendment, while one voted against it. The bill was opposed by government-allied parties JUI-F and Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party.

In Senate, 71 lawmakers voted in favour of the bill while five opposed the constitutional amendment. Since Fata would not fall under the jurisdictions of courts, tribespeople from across its agencies would be tried under the FCR, also known as the Black Law, given to the region by the British government in 1901.

The main purpose of FCR was to protest the interests of the British rulers and counter the opposition of Pashtuns to their rule, especially in KP what was then North-West Frontier Province and Balochistan and their adjoining tribal areas.

After independence, KP and Balochistan gradually got rid of FCR, but Fata remained its only hostage. FCR outright deprives tribespeople from approaching the formal courts as it states that appeal, wakeel (lawyer) and daleel (evidence) are not applicable for its residents.

The other worst aspect of the Black Law is its collective responsibility clause, which is imposed on anyone in the tribal areas for a crime committed by his or her relative or anyone in from the same tribe. Moreover, officials of the political administration enjoy unchecked powers under the FCR and the orders given by a political agent cannot be challenged before the high courts.