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Govt report proposes merger of Fata with KP

ISLAMABAD: The final report of the Committee on Fata Reforms has proposed merging of the seven federally administered tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and criticised the idea of holding a referendum in this regard.

Retired Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch, the minister for states and frontier regions (Safron), said here on Thursday that the report containing recommendations about reforms in Fata had been presented to the federal cabinet and it was likely to be taken up during its next meeting.

“In the report there are two kinds of regulatory measures — some relate to administrative orders, while changes in the law have to be approved by parliament,” he said. “These measures will be initiated after approval of the federal cabinet.”

The minister said that people of the seven tribal agencies had overwhelmingly supported the proposed merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“We have the support of all political parties except the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazal and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, which want to hold a referendum on the matter,” he said.

“But we are against this idea because if a referendum is held over the political future of Fata then there could be similar demands for the Hazara Division in KP, southern Punjab [and] Karachi; so this may open a Pandora’s Box,” said Lt Gen Baloch.

The committee headed by the prime minister’s adviser on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, took eight months to deliberate on the much-awaited reforms in Fata.

Four options were placed before the committee regarding the political future of Fata, the first of which was to maintain the status quo but introduce judicial or administrative reforms and increase focus on development activities.

The second option was to create the Fata Council, on the pattern of Gilgit-Baltistan. The third option was to create a separate province of Fata.

The fourth and last option was to merge Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with each agency becoming a separate district and the six Frontier Regions also being integrated into the province.

“We held two jirgas in each tribal agency — one with the Maliks of that agency and the second one… with journalists, traders, lawyers, students and even women citizens of that agency,” the minister said.

He said the Maliks largely supported maintaining the current status of Fata while introducing some reforms. But the participants of the second jirga in all the seven agencies unanimously supported merging the tribal areas with the province.

The proposed merger would be carried out over a period of five years and a ten-year development package would be introduced for all of Fata.

The report had been formulated in August but it needed several amendments. Its final version was presented to the media on Thursday by the minister.

The reform committee comprised Mr Aziz, Lt Gen Baloch, Law Minister Zahid Hamid, National Security Adviser retired Lt Gen Nasser Khan Janjua, KP Governor Zafar Iqbal Jhagra and the Safron secretary.

There was no member from Fata and Lt Gen Baloch described this as a “deliberate move”.

“We have learnt that the tribes and the people of each of the agencies do not consider each other equal,” the minister said. “We feared that the internal strife and the people’s ego might hamper the proceedings of the committee.”

Meanwhile, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani recently advised the government not to take any final decision until the Senate completed its deliberations on the matter.

courtesy : dawn news

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