Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised that he would bring the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) into the country’s political mainstream.
Addressing a press conference before elections while unveiling PML-N Manifesto 2013, Premier Nawaz Sharif pledged to counter militancy and extremism by ensuring health, education and other facilities in the FATA and PATA if voted to power.
FATA consists of seven agencies: Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan. Six frontier regions – Dera Ismael Khan, Tank, Lakki, Bannu, Kohat and Peshawar – are also part of FATA. Each tribal agency is governed by a political agent. According to the Articles 1 & 246 of the Constitution, the FATA are directly administered by the federal government through Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). The Governor acts as an agent of the president to the FATA. He has powers of law-making or extending any law to the FATA through notification, regulation or ordinance. The FATA have a special status under Article 247 of the Constitution. Any act of parliament and the jurisdiction of the high and supreme judiciary are not extendable to the areas. The Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) is the only legal code for the region through which its political agent enjoys judicial powers, and he is not accountable before any court.
PPP leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto first introduced reforms in FATA in 1970. Consequently, the FATA development administration came under the Federal Ministry of State and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) and the FATA Development Corporation. Adult franchise was introduced by the then-government in 1997. The incidents of 9/11 in 2001 changed the scenario, and the FATA gained international attention. Former presidents Pervez Musharraf and Asif Ali Zardari initiated political and constitutional reforms in addition to development projects in these areas. But still, the FATA and PATA are not part of the political mainstream. Terrorism and extremism are rampant in these areas, as are extreme poverty and illiteracy, among other ills.
PML-N spokesperson Siddique Al Farooq refused to comment on the promise made by the Prime Minister, saying, “We will fulfill every promise made to the Nation.”
When Truth Tracker contacted Andleeb Abbas, spokesperson for Tehreek-e-Insaf, the ruling party in KPK, she lashed out at the Nawaz Sharif federal government and said, “Law and order is a federal responsibility and the FATA and PATA are facing the worst militancy of their history.” She added, “It is better for the Nawaz Sharif government to end militancy first in these areas and then bring other reforms there.”
Pakistan People’s Party’s spokesperson Qamar Zaman Kaira, speaking to Truth Tracker by telephone, that history was witness to the fact that PML-N had never introduced any reforms in the FATA.
“On the contrary, the PPP government always introduced reforms in the FATA. First reform was introduced by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto then second and third reforms were introduced during the tenures of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari.”
While talking to Truth Tracker on phone Dr. Mehdi Hassan, chairman of Mass Communication Department of Beaconhouse National University (BNU) said that since PTI was ruling in KPK, PML-N would not take any step to bring reforms in the FATA and PATA.
“Ultimate credit will go to PTI if PML-N introduces reforms in the FATA and PATA. So it does not make sense that PML-N will take any concrete steps to bring reforms to these areas,” Hassan opined.
In light of the above facts, Truth Tracker finds the PML-N promise of introducing reforms in the FATA and PATA has not yet started.