Tuesday, September 19, 2017
PPP Vice President Sherry Rehman on Tuesday said the corruption has become prevalent in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
Speaking during a meeting of the Senate's Committee of the Whole, she expressed her disbelief over the misallocation of the PSDP, saying, "The Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) allocation for FATA was only utilized by 60% according to the minister. This is quite shocking to hear that one of the most underdeveloped areas in Pakistan saw a Rs 40 million lapse."
According to a recent UNDP report, the highest rates of poverty in Pakistan are in the FATA and Balochistan. The report revealed that over 73% of the people in FATA live in multidimensional poverty.
The senator pointed out, "From the report, it seems like the FATA committee did not consult women. Women in FATA are victims of both entrenched social attitudes that restrict their public and political space but have no voice in this reform which will greatly impact their lives. There needs to be a separate consultation with FATA's women to make this meaningful."
During the meeting, it was also disclosed that the political agent still had the power of levying a "cess" or tax.
"This is entirely illegal and unconstitutional and must be stopped forthwith because it only amounts to a plunder of the area. We demand a forensic audit of what the political agent has been doing. This money must be returned to the people of FATA for their development," said the PPP senator.
She added, "Despite the extension of the law to allow the auditor general PR to review the accounts and funds, this is not happening. Corruption is not just rampant, it is endemic and widespread. Cess and rehdari is not supposed to be collected but remains embedded in the culture of constant informal arrangements."
The journalist-turned-politician added, "The plan of extending Islamabad High Court jurisdiction to FATA makes no sense when Peshawar High Court can do the same job. This must change."
In 2009, it was former president Asif Zardari who announced major legal and political reforms in the tribal areas to free the people of FATA from the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) and pave the way for their mainstreaming.
She cautioned against the long period of activation of the reforms, saying, "I am deeply suspicious of "reform" that is phased over such a long period and via elite networks of only tribal notables as well as the governor's office. Islamabad looks all set to retain its stranglehold on these seven areas. Unification with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the consensus and the most viable way forward."
"Why should the extension of Pakistan's laws take an additional five years? Who will take responsibility for decisions taken even 2 years from now? Why should there be a CEO who operates through an additional secretary?" questioned the Senator, warning that this will bring FATA back to executive rule via the governor.
The PPP leader also pointed out transparency needs to be added to which law will replace the highly criticised FCR, "Anything that includes jirga in the law is a bad idea as it is vulnerable to misuse. It will institutionalize the bias that has been at play for centuries against many universal and fundamental rights framework," concluded the senator.
While the entire population is contemplating the close contest between Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf (PTI) in NA-120 elections; the factor that is going unnoticed is the rise in support of the extremist parties. Two ultra-right religious parties were contesting the elections from the constituency, and if these elections were a litmus test for the coming general elections, than the support these parties garnered is alarming. After PML-N and PTI, the party to get the most number of votes was Tehreek e Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLY). The party emerged this year and is headed by an Islamic scholar, Maulvi Khadim Hussain Rizvi. While much is not known about the scholar; the thing that everyone remembers him by is his blatant support for Mumtaz Qadri and his speeches, which are intolerant of dissenting views and full of hatred. TLY managed to get 7,180 votes in the election. These are a significant of votes, which have displaced the position of PPP in the dynamic. This signifies the growing influence of the extremist ideology in the political scene. Although the “religious parties” have never had the majority to form a government, but the vote count signifies a new trend. The party preceding TLY was the Milli Muslim League (MML). It is a renamed faction of Jamaat ud Dawa (JuD); the banned extremist organisation. MML clearly announced their support for Hafiz Saeed, a known terrorist and criticized the government for “illegally” confining him. Despite them claiming no ties with JuD, their comments are fooling no one. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) did deny recognizing the party and giving permission for contesting the elections, but despite that they did contest and managed to get 5,800 votes. If they have managed to ignore the instructions of the ECP, then it shows how incapable our governmental bodies are. At the same time, it is a failure of the federal government that while state machinery was being used to get more support for the ruling party, all other priorities were sidelined. We have been claiming to fight off the extremist thought from Pakistan and promising the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP), but proscribed organisations are contesting such crucial elections with relative impunity – and great aplomb too. This highlights the failure of our state to effectively tackle these groups and should worry us all in coming times.
Bilawal Bhutto pays glowing tributes to Mir Murtaza Bhutto Shaheed on his 21st martyrdom anniversary
Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has paid glowing tributes to Mir Murtaza Bhutto Shaheed on his 21st martyrdom anniversary being observed tomorrow.
In his message on the occasion, the PPP Chairman said that Mir Murtaza Bhutto started struggle at young age and went very hard times in exile after the martyrdom of former Prime Minister Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Mir Murtaza Bhutto Shaheed was killed under a conspiracy, ‘kill a Bhutto to get a Bhutto”. He said that Mir Murtaza Bhutto Shaheed will be remembered forever by the PPP leadership and workers for his struggle against dictator General Zia.