May 31st marks a historic milestone for Pakistan’s erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). A year ago on this day, the president of Pakistan consigned FATA to the dustbin of history by signing the 25th Amendment Constitutional Bill which the national Parliament had adopted with a two-thirds majority. This paved the way for the merger of FATA regions into the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, a demand that had resonated for decades.
Since Pakistan’s creation in 1947, the FATA region – comprising of 7 administrative units called Agency, FATA enjoyed a ‘special status’ under Article 247 of the Constitution. It was governed through the British colonial era draconian Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) Act 1901. With this FATA residents had no access to the nationally practiced judicial system.
On May 13, 2019, the National Assembly also approved the bill for increasing the share of seats for the ex FATA region in the KP and the national parliament.
The Election Commission of Pakistan is now preparing for elections in the new districts on July 2, which would be yet another big stride to the mainstreaming of these neglected areas.
While congratulating the residents of the new districts on the first anniversary of the 25th Constitutional Amendment, MATRIX MAG ventured out to ask for opinions of various stakeholders on how they view the progress on the mainstreaming of ex-FATA.
Sangeen Khan, a Peshawar based lawyer seems happy over the development but sees very little progress on the implementation front.
Ismail Khan, a veteran journalist and the resident editor of Dawn newspaper, Peshawar, thinks that the practical steps taken will take some time to materialize. The consensus, by all the provinces, on sharing resources for erstwhile FATA’s development will be the key to it’s development as a merged unit of KP.
Dr Naureen Nasir, a resident of erstwhile FATA, is unsatisfied with the pace of judicial extension to these districts. She believes that the lower judiciary system is yet to get in place while police reforms are also in want of implementation.
Syed Hussain Shaheed Suharwadry, a Director at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, is hopeful of success on both federal and provincial levels. Post-merger teething problems will be overcome, though he feels that the last twelve months got consumed in extensive planning.
Under Special Arrangement with Matrix Mag