By Naimat Ullah Khan
The existing system of quotas in government jobs for FATA domicilie holders benefits those settled outside of the tribal region with access to better education facilities.
The constitution of 1973 has the provision for a special quota system through which “posts may be reserved for persons belonging to any class or area to secure their adequate representation in the service of Pakistan”. Domicile holders of FATA, due to the region’s poor standard of living, have access to this quota system. However, it is imperative that we question if this quota truly benefits the least privileged residents of FATA, and whether the beneficiaries return to FATA to serve their area of birth.
Federally Administrated Tribal Area (FATA) is a buffer zone between Pakistan and Afghanistan governed primarily by the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR). In total, there are seven tribal agencies and six frontier regions (FR). The administrative structure of the FR is complicated by the fact that these regions are governed both by the administration of an adjoining settled district (eg Deputy Commissioner) and by the Political Agent (PA) of an adjacent tribal agency.
The quota system must be reformed to give preference to domicile holders who gained their education in FATA. Those who studied outside the region must be considered afterwards Since its inception, the Pakistani state has done little to improve conditions in FATA. Until 2016, the entire 27,220 kilometers of the FATA region did not have a single university; a fact which highlights the state’s neglect towards the region. Considering how the recent surge of terrorism in the region has further weakened the provision of basic health and education facilities in FATA, it is a good thing that FATA residents can benefit from the quota system.
Domicile holders of FATA are entitled to quotas for admission in educational institutions and to quotas for employment in the federal and provincial governments. The quota is available to FATA domicile holders residing all over the country, not just in FATA territory. Thus, a domicile holder of FATA who does not reside in the tribal regions but is instead settled somewhere else in the country can still benefit from the quota for FATA domicile holders.
This is where the essence of the problem with our quota system lies. In most cases, the quota system benefits domicile holders who have not lived in FATA and cannot even speak their respective tribal Pashtu accent or dialect. These domicile holders also have access to educational institutions which are far superior to institutions in FATA, thus giving a natural edge to domicile holders who chose to move out of FATA. The actual residents of FATA lose out in this system since they now have to compete with individuals who not only have access to the quota system, but also benefit from access to better resources available in Pakistan’s settled areas.
The government must reform this system in a way which gives preference to individuals who gained their education from FATA. FATA domicile holders who gained their education from outside FATA, on the other hand, must be preferred after the residents of the area. This will also ensure that the beneficiaries of the quota system are individuals who are loyal to the region. In several cases, domicile holders who never lived in FATA, once employed, choose not to serve in the region, and instead opt to settle in other parts of the country. The State must counteract this issue by compelling individuals to serve a minimum tenure inside FATA.
As the National Assembly debates the Rewaj Act and considers making FATA a part of KP, we must look inward and question why the current system failed FATA. The Assembly should also debate the quota system and consider restructuring it. In the meanwhile, the onus is on FATA domicile holders to undertake some self-reflection and wonder how they can contribute to their own Khawra (soil) while benefiting from FATA’s quota system.