By Amir Abbas Turi
Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), considered to be among the most dangerous places on earth today, was a peaceful territory prior to 9/11 – despite its governance problems. After the 18th constitutional amendment, powers of state executive were transferred from the President of Pakistan to the parliament. However, despite such measures the President, instead of the Parliament still holds an authoritative position for decision making in Tribal areas. Article 247 of the Constitution of Pakistan renders MPs from FATA incapable of legislating for their respective constituencies.
Pakistan has been besieged by hostile militants. Keeping in view the current scenario, political reforms in FATA are the need of the hour. In order to implement writ of the state in the region, a constitutional amendment is a required. Currently, clause 3 of article 247 restricts parliament’s legislation to be implemented in the region, unless the President through Governor directs so. Currently, the ages old FCR, the draconian law, is exercised in FATA.
The parliament must act immediately to remove the self-imposed bar from legislation for tribal areas. Similarly, a constitutional amendment should be proposed to omit section 247 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Once the law makers are rendered capable of legislating for FATA, they would replace a century old law Frontier Crimes Regulation with PPC. Likewise, an immediate halt to the military operations within the region must be ensured for securing trust and corporation of local tribal men.
Furthermore, incumbent Government should take a firm stance for putting an end to drone strikes in the region, which are not only a brazen violation of our sovereignty and international law but also responsible for civilian causalities. In order to resolve internal security threat, the local tribal leaders must be taken on board in the dialogue process and must be guaranteed their rights in the new form of Governance.
Finally, implementations of these reforms will ensure local support and bring people of FATA in the national ambit. Sometimes, the conservative Islamic ideology is wrongly interpreted as fundamentalist and extremist. Providing people of FATA a right to govern will open communication channels in changing the global perception about this region. Conflict in the region can be mitigated only when Majlis-e-Shoora proposes a 21st constitutional amendment for political reforms in FATA to end the social deprivation of the local folks.
The writer is a social activist and hails from Kurram Agency, FATA.