PESHAWAR: A petition was moved on Monday at the Peshawar High Court seeking separate province status for Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) instead of merger with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The petition was filed by regional President of Pakistan Justice and Democratic Party for Fata, Daulat Shah Afridi, a resident of Landikotal, Khyber Agency, through his lawyer Noor Alam Khan.
“The Fata be given a separate status by abstaining from integration with the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. A separate legislative system be arranged for Fata by amending the Constitution who could legislate for people of Fata and have legislative control over Fata,” it was prayed in the petition.
The tribal man requested the high court to direct that the Fata be given autonomy over its boundaries and limitations and adequate provisions in the Constitution be made to safeguard the legitimate interest of people of Fata.
Pakistan through principal secretary to President of Pakistan, federal government through Secretary Safron, Secretary Cabinet Division, Secretary Parliamentary Affairs, Secretary Law and Justice Division, KP government through chief Secretary, additional chief Secretary Home Fata and Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were made parties to the petition.
It was stated in the petition that Fata is consisted of seven semi-autonomous agencies or administrative units- Khyber, Mohmand, Bajaur, Kurram, Orakzai, North Waziristan and South Waziristan and Includes “Frontier Regions (FR)” that adjoin the districts including Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan.
It said that this tangled mass constituted an area of 27,200 sq km and was inhabited by around 57 million people.
The petition said that after Pakistan emerged on the world map as an independent entity, the country was governed by the Government of India Act 1935, read with the Indian Independent Act of 1947.
“Section 91 and 92 of the Government of India Act, 1935 dealt with the Tribal Areas and defined them as ‘Excluded Areas’ and ‘Partially Excluded Areas’. The above instruments were replaced by the constitution of 1956 which was a short lived document. Its successor was the constitution of 1962 and Articles 103 and 104 of the constitution of 1956 while Articles 223 of the constitution of 1962 dealt with the Tribal Areas of Pakistan,” states the petition.
After the Constitution of 1962 was abrogated, the next adopted constitution was of 1973 which still holds the ground.
The Article-1(c) of the Constitution of 1973 includes Fata in Pakistan, Article-246 of the Constitution defines Tribal Areas while 247 pertain to administration of tribal areas.
It said that the government constituted a committee for introducing reforms in Fata. The committee submitted its report and placed four basic options to either maintain status quo with regard to main elements of the present system in Fata but introduce judicial reforms and increase focus on development activities.
The second option stated to grant special status to fata on the pattern of Gilgit Baltistan Council.
The third option was to create separate province for Fata comprising seven tribal agencies and forth option was to integrate Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province with each agency becoming a separate district.
It said that the reforms committee recommended integration and merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province with each agency becoming a separate district.
However, it was claimed in the petition that the fundamental rights incorporated in the Constitution extended to the Fata and the people of Fata had the right of life under Article-9 of the Constitution, freedom of Assembly and Association under Article-16 & 17 of the Corruption but they are being deprived from their basic rights and the issue of their life and liberty, assembly and association is decided without hearing them.
It said that the Parliamentary Committee, while submitting its report, exceeded its authority and jurisdiction, hence, the report was illegal and without jurisdiction and lawful authority.
The petitioner claimed that since its inception, fata had been under the administrative control of the federal government and the federal Government badly fail.
It was added that that the people of Fata wanted to have own legislative system which could legislate for them according to local customs and Riwaj of the people of Fata.
With the establishment of separate province it shall be given NFC award, which cannot be given in the form of merger.
It was further claimed that after the merger with KP, the Fata would lose the membership of its eight senators, but in case of a separate province the people of Fata would not only have own provincial assembly, but also the number of senators and members in National Assembly would increase.
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