ISLAMABAD: The 10 political parties of the FATA committee met on Wednesday with a group of senior senators to discuss the need for FATA reforms.
Senate Standing Committee on Defence Chairman Mushahid Hussain congratulated the FATA committee for its work and welcomed the consensus recommendations as a positive development. Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights Chairman Afrasiab Khattak (ANP) also expressed his support and said that the issue of further FATA reforms would be raised by the Human Rights Committee.
The political parties’ committee urged the senators to help them push for the new reforms with the government and parliament, arguing that urgent reforms in FATA are needed for peace in the region and the country.
The FATA committee also asked the parliamentarians and their colleagues in the Senate to support their urgent 11-point reform recommendations.
All senators drew attention to the fact that the legal system in FATA is unlike any in the world. Many also expressed their strong desire for FATA people to receive the same rights as other Pakistanis. They went on to say that FATA people are still wrongly treated as “subjects” of Pakistan instead of citizens. “Only in FATA,” said Senator Hussain, “are the authorities allowed to destroy the houses of the people as punishment for an alleged crime”.
FATA Committee member Ayesha Gulalai (PTI) also welcomed the interest of the senators and went on to say that “the separation of powers in FATA is of utmost importance, and any new local government system must truly empower the people and not just the political agent”. PML-N FATA Committee member Arsallah Hoti emphasised, “This year is very important for Afghanistan and also for FATA and Pakistan. 2014 is the year that our 11-point reforms must be implemented by the government.” He went on to ask the senators to do the hard work of advocating for reforms with others in the National Assembly and Senate.
Senator Khattak also pointed out the false statements that are often made about FATA, such as arguments that local government elections cannot be held due to the law and order situation. “If National Assembly elections can be held in FATA, then why not local elections?” he asked. Despite the fact that citizens from the tribal areas are often accused by outsiders of not recognizing law and order and that they do not want to be a part of Pakistan, members of the FATA Committee disagree and call these kinds of statements not true and misleading.
MNA Gulalai also pointed out the importance of auditing the funds of the FATA Secretariat and political agents, as they currently have no oversight, transparency or accountability. As a result, many FATA citizens feel that they are the victims of corruption while not seeing the true benefit of the development funds being spent in FATA. The ten political parties on the FATA Committee are on a nationwide tour to give voice to the new consolidated reforms demands for FATA. The parties are united on the reforms agenda after several All Parties Conferences with ANP JI, JUI-F, MQM, NP, PML-N, PML, PPP, PTI and QWP.
The FATA committee has presented their reforms recommendations to SAFRON Minster Lt General (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch and plans to meet President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, parliamentary committees and the new Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor soon to discuss their urgent 11-point reforms agenda.
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