The participants of a ‘roundtable conference’ on Fata reforms pinpointed constitutional lacunas in the process and urged federal government to release details of Riwaj Act and avoid delay in merger of tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The conference was organised by Pakhtunkhwa Olasi Tehreek at Peshawar Press Club on Wednesday. People belonging to different walks of life including lawyers, rights activists, tribal elders, constitutional experts and members of civil society organisations attended the conference.
Known lawyer and ANP leader Abdul Latif Afridi, All Fata Political Parties Alliance president Sardar Khan, Pakhtunkhwa Olasi Tehreek convener Dr Said Alam Mehsud, Takra Qabailee Khwendi representative Laila Shahbaz, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Haji Iqbal Afridi, SPO regional chief Arshad Haroon, Fata Lawyers Forum leader Taj Mahal, Sikandar Zaman, Barkat Khan and Nisar Khan spoke on the occasion.
The speakers expressed reservations over the proposed Riwaj Act and said that situation was not clear as Article 247 of Constitution was not abolished so far. They said that without giving any specified timeframe, the announcement of mainstreaming Fata would be of no use.
Speakers pinpoint constitutional lacunas in Fata reforms process
The speakers demanded of the government to make details of Riwaj Act public. They said that a committee should be formed to convey their reservations to government about the proposed Fata reforms.
They asked for six per cent share in National Finance Commission Award and a comprehensive compensation package for the damage caused owing to military operations in tribal areas.
The speakers demanded allocation of 30 per cent funds for promotion of education sector in Fata. They said that Fata Development Authority should be devolved to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Speaking on the occasion, Abdul Latif Afridi said that according to the proposed Fata reforms, no changes were brought in Article 246 and 247 of the Constitution. He said that Fata assembly was unacceptable to them.
He said that powers of President of Pakistan and governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa should be transferred to elected representatives of Fata in provincial assembly, local bodies, provincial government and relevant stakeholders. He rejected Pata-like proposed status of Fata.
Similarly, Amjad Afridi said that government was creating hurdles to the merger programme by announcing vague Fata reforms.
He said that tribal people would continue their efforts for implementation of genuine reforms in Fata.
Haji Iqbal Afridi asked the government to remove flaws in the proposed reforms and implement the reforms agenda as per aspirations of the tribal people. He alleged that political administration and influential tribal elders were creating hurdles to genuine reforms process.
Dr Said Alam Mehsud said that government was not sincere to bring true reforms in Fata. He said that governor advisory committee was still empowered to make decisions about the development projects and other issues in tribal areas.
Dr Said Alam demanded of the government to curtail powers of governor and Fata Secretariat, saying political agents should not be authorised to make decision regarding merger of Fata with the province.
Bureau Report. Govt asked to release details of Riwaj Act. Dawn, March 9, 2017.