BB moves SC for politicking in FATA
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party Chairwoman Benazir Bhutto on Monday filed a constitutional petition in the Supreme Court (SC), seeking enforcement of the Political Parties Act in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) for political activities there.
Filed under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, the petition maintains that all election laws, except the Political Parties Act 1962, have been extended and enforced in FATA. Political parties cannot function in the tribal areas though there are 12 seats reserved for FATA members in the National Assembly and eight in the Senate. Since the Political Parties Act is not applicable in FATA, therefore in the general elections so far held, political parties were not allowed to field their candidates or to enter FATA for electioneering. Thus, the petition says, FATA, a unit of the federation, has completely been handed over to religious parties to operate from mosques and madrassas. There is also no restriction on religious parties doing electioneering and campaigning under the cover of religion, the petition maintains.
Bhutto also claimed in her petition that the people of the tribal areas had been demanding an opportunity to express themselves politically. She said that it was the fundamental right of FATA people to have the choice of political parties, examine their manifestos and actively participate in electioneering.
The petition says that therefore the Political Parties Act should be extended to FATA to bring the tribal people into the political mainstream and to ensure political unity and cohesion.
FATA consists of seven agencies called Bajaur, Orakzai, Mohmand, Khyber, Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan, and the Frontier Regions of Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan. Article 247(3) of the Constitution provides that no act of the parliament shall apply to any part of FATA unless the president directs so.
The petition has been filed through two PPP senators and Supreme Court advocates Sardar Latif Khosa and Farooq H Naek. The federation of Pakistan through the Cabinet Division secretary, law and justice secretary, and the Election Commission of Pakistan have been made respondents.