Deadlock on Fata reform: PM holds talks with allies to break FATA logjam

ISLAMABAD: As the government’s two key allies stuck to their guns on implementation of reforms in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), the prime minister sought time from the parliamentary leaders to discuss the issue with the central executive committee (CEC) of the ruling party.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met the parliamentary leaders for the second time since he announced earlier this month to implement reforms in Fata before end of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) tenure by the end of this month.
Like the previous moot, the two allies – Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) and the Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) – opposed to several provisions of the package and did not budge from the stance they have taken from the day one.
However, unlike the last meeting, the JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman was present during the consultation. According to media, after listening to the stance of both the parties, the PM sought time from the parliamentary leaders to consult with his own party.
At the end of the meeting, the PM said he will share stance of the parties with the PML-N’s central executive committee and then get back to them,” said a source, who attended the meeting.
In the cabinet meeting, Abbasi informed the members about the stance of allies on Fata reforms implementation. The major hurdle is still the opposition of JUI-F and PkMAP to Fata’s merger with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
However, now the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan leader Farooq Sattar has also joined the chorus and told The Express Tribune that his party is in favour of a referendum on the question of Fata’s merger.
Apart from a referendum, these parties also strongly support an independent status for the tribal areas. The JUI-F chief has blamed government at several occasions that people of Fata were not consulted for the decision of their fate.
The PM had informed the National Assembly on May 2 that Fata reforms will be implemented within next three weeks. The announcement, which came as a surprise to opposition parties, was made after a meeting on national security meeting.
In the last meeting, the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf criticised the government for hasty implementation of the reforms approved by parliament about two years ago.
The PTI’s Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi then told media that the haste was not an encouraging sign and it seemed the order for reforms implementation had come from above [ie, military].
The PM had told the National Assembly that the government had decided that the local government elections in Fata would be held before October this year while the seats of the National Assembly and provincial legislature would be finalised in consultation with political parties.
In the previous committee, the JUI-F’s representative Akram Khan Durrani told the members that the government had signed an agreement that the status of Fata would not be changed for five years.
Fata reforms panel chief Sartaj Aziz had rejected the claim and said the agreement did not hold after the JUI-F held a political congregation on Fata reforms in the K-P.