The war on terror took the biggest toll on the FATA region which, until recent times, was at the center of terrorist activities.
Following the military operations, a vast majority of the areas under the FATA belt have been cleared and opened for IDPs to return to their lands. However, what remains in the war-wrecked region, was far from fit for living, with the locals requiring state aid for the development of the region.
Unfortunately, Fata is still being governed under the British-era law called FCR Act which, according to legal experts, is a violation of universal human rights and contradicts the 1973 Constitution. In order to avoid a second era of Talibanization, they need to be awarded fundamental rights as Pakistani citizens and termed as equals in the state.
To enable FATA a chance at revival, the KP Assembly had adopted a resolution on December 14, 2016 in favor of merging FATA with KP.
Excluding Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), all other parties approved the resolution that would help rehabilitate and reconstruct the infrastructure including roads, communications, power lines, water supply, education and health facilities.
Recent sources indicate that after due consideration the federal government also plans to authorize the merger once it gets a ‘go ahead’ from the federal cabinet.
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will apprise the ministers of the issue of merger of Fata with KP in the upcoming federal cabinet meeting. After approval for this merger, the Law Ministry would be asked to prepare the draft of the bill that would be presented in parliament for approval.”
Preceding the merger, amendments will be made to the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) to accommodate FATA under the control of the Provincial government. The proposal also suggests an annual grant of Rs100 billion for developmental projects in FATA, to be given from the Federal Divisible Pool.
Necessary amendments to the Article 247 and other relevant laws will extend jurisdiction of Supreme Court and the high court to the tribal areas, providing citizen rights to locals.
Last year, the Committee for FATA reforms, also proposed a series of reforms and rehabilitation programmes to aid the merger with the KP government.
The only party hindering the merger was Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman. However, according to sources the Prime Minister has reassured his allies and taken them into confidence over the union.
As the Prime Minister has given his seal of approval after discussing matters with all the stakeholders, it is expected that it will not take long for the official statement to be released from the state platform.