ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has demanded of the government to merge the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) before the 2018 elections, claiming that any further delay will keep the issue hanging for another five years.
“There is a need to reconstruct Fata and it’s not possible without its merger with K-P. If the government fails to fill out the vacuum created due to war, army operations and lack of development, terrorism will spread further in Fata,” Khan said while addressing the Fata Youth Convention.
He also threatened that if government failed to get the Fata reforms bill passed from the National Assembly – as promised by it a couple of days back – the PTI would ask tribesmen to march on Islamabad.
On December 8, the government had announced that it would table a bill in the lower house on Monday on Fata reforms and the proposed merger of tribal areas with K-P.
He said the JUI-F and the PkMAP, the government’s allies that had been opposing Fata-K-P merger, had been doing politics at the cost of the tribesmen’s miseries. “Both these allies are forcing the ruling PML-N to delay Fata reforms and the merger,” he added.
Khan said successive Pakistani governments had neglected Fata “with a result that today 73% of the Fata residents are living below the poverty line”.
He said Fata was the most peaceful area of Pakistan until the war on terror broke out after 9/11. “At that time, the PTI had opposed sending troops to Fata on the directions of the US. It was a great mistake that destroyed the very fabric of that society and generated extremism there,” he observed.
He said when elected representatives from Fata sat in the K-P Assembly, people of Fata would have a voice. “Former East Pakistan separated from us because we committed injustice to the people there and Pakistan should not commit the same mistake with the Fata residents,” he added.
The convention also unanimously adopted a 10-point resolution that urged the government to immediately start Fata’s integration process according to the wishes of its people.
The resolution demanded that local government elections in Fata be held before the next general elections to empower the people at the grass-roots level; and that the local government law of K-P be adopted to ensure uniformity of system.
It said the federal and provincial governments must commit resources for initiation of a 10-year development plan by allocating 3% from the federal divisible pool on an annual basis so that Fata could be brought on a par with the rest of the country.
“The Fata Secretariat, which has become a source of corruption and exploitation of the people of Fata, must be disbanded forthwith and its functions reverted back to the government of K-P as it existed before 2005,” the resolution demanded.
It said only the K-P government had conveyed its agreement to the federal government to deduct its share of funds for the purpose, adding that the K-P chief minister would lead the campaign for persuading the three provinces and the federal government to agree on the 3% allocation.
It demanded of the federal government to immediately start the process of allowing the Fata people to elect their representatives to the K-P Assembly in the 2018 polls, as the K-P had already expressed its commitment to accommodate the representatives of Fata in the provincial assembly.
The resolution called for abolition of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) and extension of all the laws of Pakistan to Fata in a phased manner under a given timeframe.
“The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the Peshawar High Court should be extended to Fata so that the people of Fata are able to enjoy the same rights enjoyed by their fellow citizens in other parts of the country,” it added.