ISLAMABAD: Representatives of all the major political parties on Wednesday unanimously approved recommendations for reforms in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with the aim to bring the deprived tribal people of the volatile regions at par with the rest of Pakistanis.
A joint committee of ten political parties on FATA reforms – the ruling PML-N, PTI, PPP, JUI-F, JI, ANP, QWP, MQM, PML and National Party – acknowledged that the people of tribal regions deserve the same rights, freedom, protection and economic opportunities which are available to people of settled districts. They said that the political, economic, social and administrative reforms in the tribal areas are necessary to ensure sustainable peace and development in FATA.
Following discussions with stakeholders from all the tribal agencies, the committee endorsed 11 recommendations. While emphasising on establishment of peace in the militancy-prone areas, the committee proposed that Article 247 of the constitution should be amended to guarantee fundamental rights of all tribal citizens and shift the legislative powers from the president to parliament. The committee, however, did not give solutions for establishment of peace in tribal regions used by several proscribed militant groups as a launch-pad for attacks on important government installations and innocent civilians across the country.
The joint committee demanded that local bodies elections should be held in FATA and a comprehensive package should be developed for tribal areas besides infrastructure development initiative, with special focus on health, education and employment. The committee’s members demanded that the future status of FATA should be decided by its people irrespective of whether they wish to maintain their semi-autonomous position or form a separate province or merge in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Since media has no access to the tribal belt, the committee recommended that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (PEMRA) jurisdiction should be extended, and media should be extended and provided greater access to FATA to provide the tribal citizens with opportunities for media interaction and participation.
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