Tuesday April 16, 2024

74pc Fata people want merger with KP, repeal of FCR

By Israr Khan
February 02, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas’ (Fata) three-fourth population is supporting the move of integrating their tribal areas with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and also has demand of the federal government to repeal the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) that was enforced by British rulers decades ago for oppressing the people of these areas and which deprive them from some of their basic rights.

The Fata Research Centre on Wednesday released here a study titled “Governance Reforms in Fata: A People’s Perspective” at a time when a heated debate is ensuing in the country regarding the type of new governance system to be introduced in Fata.

The event was attended by the KP provincial Minister Anisa Zeb TahirKheli, Ambassador Federal Republic of Germany Ina Lepel, former Governor KP Engr. Shaukat Ullah, Member of National Assembly Shehryar Afridi (PTI), Justice (R) Mian Ajmal, Afrasiab Khattak (ANP) along with diplomatic staff from different countries and representatives from different research institutes and other stakeholders.

Authored by Dr Sadia Sulaiman and Dr. Syed Adnan Ali Shah, the research study focuses on future of governance reforms in Fata and highlights Fata people’s perspective in this regard. The study is based on data extracted through poll surveys, in-depth interviews, focused groups discussions and consultative workshops to ascertain the perspectives of indigenous populace.

Dr Sadia Sulaiman stated that poll survey shows that 74 percent of the respondents (54 pc fully, while 20 pc partially) endorsed the option of merging Fata into KP. Conversely, 18 pc of the respondents fully disagreed with the idea of merger.

The second most favoured option, according to the research study, was restructuring Fata as a separate province. Around 26 pc of the respondents supported the notion of a separate province, while 38 percent disagreed with the idea. Only 19 percent endorsed the idea of retaining and amending the existing FCR while 68 percent demanded its repeal.

Likewise, the idea of introducing Fata Council on the patterns of Gilgit-Baltistan received only 18 pc full support, in comparison to 53 pc who fully disagreed.

Dr. Sulaiman said that at present the time is ripe for introducing broad array of reforms in Fata to streamline. A failure to capitalize on this golden opportunity would shatter public trust in the state and may result in recurrence of violence.

The study recommends that the reforms should be all inclusive in nature and they should be very carefully and adequately conceived from the beginning. Similarly, all such efforts to reform Fata should incorporate people’s aspirations which will, in turn, create a sense of ownership for the entire process. Otherwise, the implementation of reforms will not be without flaws, and will, certainly, fall short of achieving the desired outcomes.

Speaking on the occasion, KP’s Provincial Minister Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli, stated that Fata current predicament is due to the absence of modern state institutions. She advocated the merger of Fata with the adjoining Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province since current realities advocate this initiative. Ambassador Inna Lepel of Germany lauded the study saying its findings show that people in Fata are ready for governance reforms.

Justice (Retd) Mian Ajmal emphasized upon ascertaining people’s viewpoints on the issue of reforms, which according to him would allow the people to own the reforms process.”

Former Governor of KP Engr. Shaukat Ullah stated that a rule of business should be discussed between FATA and KP to clarify financial matters before discussing the option of merger.”

ANP leader Afrasiab Khatak, while emphasizing upon the necessity of introducing reforms stated that bureaucratic bottlenecks are holding the entire process back. He also highlighted establishment of strong Pakistan-Afghanistan relations to ensure peace in FATA. MNA Sheharyar Afridi said that the current KP government shoulders a lot of responsibility to push the reform agenda ahead as a top priority.