Opposing the proposed merger of the Federal Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a group of elders from Khyber Agency on Friday urged the government to form an independent Fata legislative council to decide the future of the tribal region.
Haji Bazar Gul Afridi, a tribal elder and central president of the Khyber Union, a public welfare body in Khyber Agency, told reporters at the Peshawar Press Club that the merger of Fata with KP was unacceptable to tribal people.
He said the proposed legislative council should be formed to legislate on the tribal region’s future in line with the local social, political and traditions.
Accompanied by the organisation’s office-bearers and tribal elders, including Murad Sakhi, Gul Maan Shah, Haji Zarghoon Shah, Maskeen Shah, Gul Nazar, Shah Nawaz and Dr Syed Anwar, Mr. Haji Bazar said the Fata reforms proposed by a government committee went against tribal customs and traditions.
Demand formation of Fata legislative council to decide region’s fate
He said legislation and policies on Fata should be made in light of local traditions and customs.
The elder also called for abolition of Frontier Crimes Regulation and said the unlimited powers of the political agents should be reduced to overcome injustices.
He also opposed the extension of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and high courts to Fata saying local residents knew very well how to resolve their issues through a jirga system.
“We want constitutional protection of our traditional tribal jirga, and customs,” he said, adding that the people won’t accept any decision creating new problems and complications for them.
Mr. Haji Bazar said all disputes in Fata could be resolved through traditional tribal jirga system only.
He said keeping in view the damages caused by the prolonged war against terrorism in Fata, the region should be included in the next National Finance Commission Award, while a Rs100 billion financial package should be announced for it.
The elder called for the immediate rehabilitation and reconstruction of educational and health facilities in Fata.
He said mega development projects should be initiated in Fata, while local body elections should be held in all tribal agencies for the effective resolution of civic issues.
Mr. Haji Bazar said Rs2 million and Rs1 million should be announced as compensation for the completely destroyed houses and partially damaged ones.
He called upon the government to exempt tribal region from all kind of taxes and completely abolish the Customs Act.
The elder also demanded Fata’s ‘due’ share in the multibillion dollars China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project for development.
Another speaker, Murad Sakhi, said Fata people had immensely suffered due to the prolonged war against terrorism and imposition of the black law, FCR.
He alleged that the government had received funds worth of billion of rupees in the name of Fata from different donor organisations and countries but it didn’t utilise them properly to bring development to the tribal region.
He said only the proposed independent Fata legislative council could ensure socioeconomic change in Fata through legislation.