Tribal leaders urge fundamental rights for FATA and IDPs

ISLAMABAD (DNA): FATA leaders and civil society experts discussed IDP rights and the need for further reforms in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Expressing concern for IDP crises in Waziristan and Khyber, tribal leader Asad Afridi emphasized local government and amendment to the constitution as needed reforms for FATA.

In a television program broadcast the other day, the local leaders argued that now is the time for government to take bold decisions for FATA, and that if they do not move forward, the government will likely face problems even more severe than the IDP crisis. “The Frontier Crimes Regulation was made for 19th century, not for the 21st century,” Afridi said.

Member of the Political Parties Joint Committee on FATA Reforms, advocate and Quami Watan Party FATA president, Afridi was joined on the program by Rakhshinda Naz of the Aurat Foundation, Malik Ghulam Ali Muhammad (currently displaced from North Waziristan) and Imtiaz Gul of the Center for Research and Security Studies.

According to Rakhshinda Naz, it is incorrect to say that the people in FATA do not want or accept a political system, and Afridi lamented that the IDPs will be forced to suffer again under the same FCR system when they return to their homes. Malik Ghulam Ali further argued that in the presence of the FCR, development in FATA is not possible.

“Maliks and political agents favor the status quo due to their own interests,” Afridi said, going on to highlight elected local bodies as the most important reform for FATA people.

The Khyber political leader congratulated Senator Farhatullah Babar of Pakistan Peoples Party for presenting a bill in the Senate to amend Article 247 of the constitution. He also highlighted the efforts of the political parties FATA Committee, calling for transfer of legislative power from the President of Pakistan to parliament.

The Aurat Foundation director said that for significant political reforms to move forward, the joint political parties FATA Committee should ensure the reforms agenda is included in all parties’ manifestos. “Only then will the issue be appropriately raised in parliament, and people can hold the parties accountable for delivering the reforms,” she said.

Afridi talked about the positive impact of extending the Political Parties Order to FATA in 2011, pointing out political affiliations of some MNAs from FATA after joining Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf.

But, “true mainstreaming of FATA now depends on the intentions and will of the federal government,” he said.

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