ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani on Tuesday advised the government to wait till finalisation of the recommendations of the house about reforms in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) before taking any practical step in this regard.
He made the observation during a meeting of the Committee of the Whole House when Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, while speaking as head of the government committee on Fata reforms, said he would include the speeches of the senators on the issue in his report, which he would soon present before the federal cabinet for approval.
Mr Rabbani said the speeches made by the members could not be treated as recommendations of the house. He said the recommendations, yet to be prepared by the Committee of the Whole House, would be considered as final only after their adoption by the Senate.
Senators discuss pros and cons of official report
Earlier, a number of senators spoke on the issue and discussed the positive and negative aspects of the report which had been finalised by the government committee and laid before the house on September 27.
The Committee of the Whole House had been constituted by the senators through a motion “to consider legislative, administrative and other measures required for mainstreaming and ensuring constitutional rights to the people of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata)”.
During the debate on the report, the members looked divided over the issue of merging Fata into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as recommended by the government committee.
Senator Hidayatullah from Fata alleged that the political agents misused the jirga system in the tribal areas. He alleged that the funds released for Fata were not being spent in the area.
“Even the funds received under the Kerry-Lugar Bill have not been spent sincerely in this area,” he added. He also called for allocation of jobs quota for Fata people.
Senator Aurangzeb Khan called for holding fresh census in Fata before implementing any reforms in the area. He expressed his concerns over lack of education and health facilities in the tribal areas.
Senator Taj Muhammad Afridi was of the opinion that the reforms proposed by the government committee would further complicate the issue as the Fata people were disappointed over it.
Senator Saleh Shah said a majority of the Fata people opposed the merger of Fata with the province.
Ilyas Bilour of the Awami National Party (ANP) said the local culture and traditions of Fata people should be kept in mind during the reforms process. He proposed the merger of Fata with KP.
Usman Kakar of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) stressed the need for early rehabilitation of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) and said the minister for states and frontier regions must be taken from the tribal areas.
PML-Q’s Mushahid Hussain said Fata people had offered sacrifices for the country and the area must be connected with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.
Senator Nehal Hashmi said the government had taken a major initiative aimed at bringing Fata into the mainstream of national development. He said the census exercise should be started from Fata.
Hafiz Hamdullah of the JUI-F claimed that five out of the eight tribal agencies were opposed to the reforms suggested by the government committee. He regretted that not a single member of the committee belonged to Fata.
The Senate chairman said the senators had discussed the constitutional, legal, historical as well as administrative aspects of Fata.
He asked the senators to keep in mind that Fata Secretariat and Safron officials had vested interests in the existing system in Fata and black economy worth billion of rupees was involved. “As long as the linkages among these vested interests are not broken, the process of the reforms cannot proceed further,” he said.
Courtesy : Dawn News