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Pakistan: Integration of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa hinders development

News Agencies | Updated on: 29 December 2021, 11:15 IST

On May 21, 2018, Pakistan made Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) under the 25th Amendment to reform tribal areas and to bring it within constitutional jurisdiction, but rather than solving the problem, it has become an obstacle in the way of development.

Rifatullah Orakzai, writing in Friday Times of Naya Daur said that despite being mainstreamed under the Pakistani constitution, former FATA remains marred by lawlessness. The vacuum used by terror outfits is still volatile, with the locals being troubled by draconian policies.

Tribal people who have been relocated in the area complain of delay in hearing of property cases and high expenses. Sahibzada Bahauddin, a local journalist from Bajaur tribal district, can't help but juxtapose the systems pre- and post-FATA's merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

"The jirga system was better: money was spent in it too but at least justice was provided immediately," Bahauddin told Naya Daur Media.

He said the promises made by the government to the tribal people have not been fulfilled, and hence the locals are disappointed. He insists many locals think they have been hard done by and also reiterate that the previous system was cheaper and quicker.

"We used to think that the abolition of the Frontier Crimes Regulations or FCR would solve most of the problems of the people in the former tribal areas, but that did not happen. In fact, so many new issues have been created, and one can't see any solution to them," he added.

The FCR, introduced in 1901 by the British, has commonly been referred to as the Black Law.

In the former tribal areas, the whole system was run under this law and the convicts had no right of appeal in the high courts. One clause of this law could have bound the whole tribe for many years under territorial responsibility, reported Naya Daur.

"People had high hopes regarding the integration of FATA. The government's narrative implied that the merger would lead to canals of milk and honey flowing in the merged areas. It was all a sweet deception," added Bahauddin.

No ledgers are kept of the property in the merged districts. Locals have started to bring years-old disputes before the local courts, which has further aggravated territorial issues.

"A mechanism should have been set up to provide relief but there is no such thing on the ground which shows frustration on all sides," he maintained.

Moreover, the religious parties Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) and Mahmood Khan Achakzai's Sat Jamaat-e-Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party not only opposed FATA's integration but also voted against the constitutional amendment on the floor of Parliament. Both the opposition parties had demanded that FATA's special status not be revoked.

Member National Assembly Mufti Abdul Shakoor, belonging to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) party from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said the local tribal system had been prevalent in the tribal agencies for almost two decades, under which not only all the tribes were free and independent but it was also, prior to the partition, accepted by the British Raj, said Orakzai.

"In the tribal system all decisions were taken in accordance with local customs and practices which provided immediate and timely justice to the people. These decisions, it is noteworthy, were also gladly accepted by all parties involved," he added.

Meanwhile, due to the new problems faced by the merger, tribal elders of FATA in Pakistan are seeking reversal of the decision, saying that it was done without people's consent.


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First published: 29 December 2021, 11:15 IST