The people of FATA have experienced nothing but war and uncertainty in the past 30 years.
Hence, the approval of the recommendations put forth by a reforms committee to mainstream FATA with the rest of the country has been a long time coming, and the efforts of the government must be appreciated for bringing peace, development and citizens’ rights to the neglected and backward region.
This is a big victory for not only the ruling party, but also the people of the region who will finally do away with draconian laws like the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) and have representation in the KP assembly.
The committee was faced with two options — integration with KP or creation of a new province.
For now, it has proposed a restricted integration of FATA with KP, hence the word ‘mainstreaming’ is being used instead of merger, which aligns with this idea of a slow but steady transition into a complete merger.
Members of the committee have visited all the tribal regions and held consultations with tribal elders, tribal representatives and government officials to decide upon the reforms that will define the future status of FATA.
According to the approved draft, provisions will be made through a constitutional amendment to enable the people of FATA to elect their representatives to the KP Assembly in the 2018 elections.
The FCR will be repealed; effectively doing away with inhumane related to collective responsibility and will be replaced by the new Rewaj Regulation for Tribal Areas.
It should be interesting to see what FATA will become under the Rewaj rule, considering its somewhat vague provisions proposed presenting the traditional tribal Jirga system in a new light.
There is the pressing question of how the Rewaj act will legitimise tribal customary law, and integrate the people of FATA with the population of KP.
The people of FATA will now be under three different and often contradictory justice systems, the Pakistan laws, nizam-i-adl in Malakand Division and the Rewaj in the tribal areas.
Ultimately it is hoped that the whole region will come under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Pakistan Penal Code will be the rule of law for everyone alike.
Another noteworthy provision is the request to the National Finance Commission to make allocations of 3% of the gross federal divisible pool on an annual basis for the implementation of the FATA Development Plan.
For a massive reconstruction and rehabilitation programme, such an amount is required on an emergency basis and the progress of the people of FATA must begin as soon as possible.
Reporter. Merger Or Mainstreaming? The Nation, March 3, 2017.