Former President Asif Ali Zardari has said that the government was not sincere in implementing FATA reforms package and challenged the government to prove its sincerity.
He was addressing a representative gathering of hundreds of tribal people drawn from all tribal agencies and Frontier Regions in Tehkal in Peshawar today on the third day of his tour of provincial metropolis.
It took nine months for the cabinet to approve the so called reforms package on March 2. Now on the eve of budget Bills have been introduced in the National Assembly without bringing them to the attention of opposition or tribal people let alone seeking a broad based consensus on them, he said. He said that the government will now pretend to pass the Bills hurriedly and blame the opposition for delay if it raised questioned whether the so called Riwaj Bill was re-incarnation of the hated Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) under a different name.
Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar quoted the President as saying that the amendment Bill brought by the government today was a gimmick to score political brownies on the eve of 2017 budget.
Zardari said that the PPP had flung open the door of reforms in FATA in 2011 and will carry forward the reform process once it gets into power after the elections.
A fundamental issue in mainstreaming FATA is the resistance of vested interests including bureaucracy which is loathe to loosen its iron grip on tribal areas, he said. What is needed is to break the nexus between bureaucratic complex and Presidency to continue hold on tribal areas. Once this was done all other issues whether merger in KPK, local governments and extending jurisdiction of superior courts will automatically follow he said. He said that as President he transferred Presidential powers to the Parliament and opened up the reforms process in FATA. What is needed now is to transfer the Presidential powers with regard to FATA to Parliament as well to move forward, he said.
This indeed is the PPP agenda and the Party will do it when it comes into power. The present government which believes in concentration of power is neither capable nor willing to do so, he said.
The office of President should not be the lord of tribal areas concentrating all legislative and executive powers in the hands of Presidency and its agent the Governor KPK. This is a colonial structure to keep the tribal people under tight control and this structure must be demolished, he said. The legislative powers in respect of FATA should be transferred to the Parliament from the President and the genuinely elected representatives allowed participation and self governance, he said.
It is a fallacy to argue that the tribal people cannot be subjected to the laws of Pakistan. The tribal people across the border are governed under the laws of Kabul and there is no conflict with the Riwaj of the tribes.
A large number of people from all tribal agencies live in settled districts of KPK and other parts of Pakistan and have no problem living with the laws of Pakistan. They also live and work in ME where the laws are even more stringent but neither their riwaj nor the traditional jirga has stood in the way.
He said that the committees of parliament and media be allowed to visit tribal areas to tear apart the shroud of secrecy that has been deliberately woven around FATA by the vested interests.
He said that the PPP government had increased the PSDP for FATA from 3 billion to 19 billion rupees, made changes in the FCR disallowing arrest of women and children in the name of collective responsibility, allowed all political parties to function in tribal areas.
He lamented that the PPP plans for Medical College Bajaur, IT University in Kurram , University in Kohat and a cadet college in every Agency was shelved by the present government.
Zardari said that the Party will continue to struggle for the merger of tribal areas in KPK, extending the jurisdiction of high court and supreme court to the tribal areas and for doing away with the notorious FCR.
The tribal jals was also addressed by PPP FATA president Akhunzada Chattan and party heads of all tribal agencies.