By Anwar Shah
PARACHINAR, 5 October: The lawmakers of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have submitted a bill in the National Assembly for merger of tribal areas into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other constitutional and basic rights of the tribal people. However, some tribal elders are opposing the ‘FATA Reforms Bill’ and instead want FATA to be declared a separate province or council.
TNN correspondent Anwar Shah has conducted a detailed interview with Member National Assembly from Kurram Agency Sajid Toru over all issues surrounding the FATA reforms.
TNN: What was the reason behind submitting the FATA Reforms Bill in the National Assembly by the tribal lawmakers?
Sajid Toru: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) made attempts to amend the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) law in 2008 and a draft of amendments was also prepared but that could not be implemented. The KP governor also cancelled many development schemes in FATA seven months ago which compelled us to go for the demand of local bodies polls in FATA on the pattern of the rest of the country. The 19 lawmakers of FATA are unanimous in the charter of demands about better security environment in tribal areas, honourable return of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their native areas, announcement of a huge package for IPDs and merger of FATA into KP.
TNN: Why do you want merger of FATA into KP?
Sajid Toru: The merger will bring development and prosperity in FATA. The tribal areas are full of minerals but no facilities exist there to utilise this wealth. Problems are plenty and resources are scarce. The merger will bring 35 or 45 provincial assembly seats for FATA areas and representation in the National Assembly will also increase. Some people think that the FATA Senate seats will reduce with the merger, but it is not so. It will also create the share of FATA people in the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award and bring many more facilities.
TNN: What are your expectations about the passage of FATA Reforms Bill from the National Assembly?
Sajid Toru: All the leaders in the Parliament are supporting the Bill and it will be passed from the National Assembly if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif supports it. The PPP, PTI chief Imran Khan, Jamaat-e-Islami ameer Sirajul Haq and ANP are backing us for FATA reforms. The Bill will be passed within minutes if the prime minister approves it. As FATA comes under the President of Pakistan, the whole status of FATA can be changed with just one signature.
— Translation by Aamir Khan