PESHAWAR : Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government on Thursday severely criticised the recent moves by federal government aimed at implementing proposed reforms in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas and complained that the provincial government’s communication in this regard was not responded.

A statement issued from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister’s Secretariat said that the 30th Constitutional Amendment and the Tribal Areas Rewaj Act bills introduced recently by the federal government in the Parliament were not aimed at either mainstreaming the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) or its merger with the KP, rather the bills were aimed to pitch the people of Fata and KP against each other, the statement said.

The statement added that ill intentions on the part of the federal government could be gauged from the fact that the proposed constitutional amendment had totally ignored Articles 1, 246 and 247 of the Constitution which, it said, are the main cause of the whole problem while on the other hand the repeated letters of the chief minister KP whose government is main stakeholder in the issue were not responded to by the prime minister.

The statement stated that the Article 1 of the Constitution defined territories of Pakistan and its sub-article (C) dealt Fata, adding that the Article 246 defined tribal territories, Fata and Provincially-Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) while Article 247 provided for administration of tribal territories particularly barring it from the jurisdictions of both the parliament and the superior judiciary.

Meanwhile, at a meeting with Fata parliamentarians, Chief Minister KP Parvez Khattak explained the salient features of his government’s response to federal cabinet’s decision on Fata reforms. He said that he had pointed out in his letter addressed to the prime minister that the reforms committee had clearly suggested merger of the two regions and the people of Fata viewed any deviation from these recommendations as breach of trust.

Therefore, after the passage of the constitutional amendment by the Parliament, it should be left to the provincial government to decide about the transition and merger. Moreover there will be early gains, which could be achieved quickly on a time continuum and these should not wait for five years to effectuate”, the chief minister said.

Though the proposed amendment provides for the people of Fata to elect their representatives to the KP Assembly but the said representatives, too, have been denied any role in the affairs of Fata for the long five years, Khattak said. The representatives having no jurisdiction over the areas and the people they are elected from would naturally create a far larger chaos, he said.

The KP government had also stressed for full repatriation of temporarily displaced persons (TDPs) before 2018. With regard to the special committee of high level experts and officials to prioritise the preparation of a 10-year socio-economic development plan for Fata, the provincial government had suggested that the chief secretary and other secretaries of the provincial departments should be included to it while the chief minister should jointly preside over it with the governor, Khattak said.

At the moment, it provides for being presided over by the governor only. A provincial government to whom the entire responsibility of a region is being handed over in due course cannot be kept out of the process, which has long-term repercussions for the entire region, he said.

The KP government supported the proposal in regard to the 3 per cent allocation from the divisible pool to Fata on annual basis for 10 years but stated that members of National Finance Commission (NFC) should absorb the cut as per the existing distribution formula. While the allocation of public-sector development programme (PSDP) should be increased in progressive manner at par with the growth in size rather than capping it at Rs21 billion, he revealed.

The provincial government had also referred to the lack of any contribution to the reconstruction of Fata by Fata Development Authority (FDA) and its “turf war with Fata secretariat”, including the mode of posting of a grade 22 officer there and has asked for further consultation over it, he said.

With regard to the proposed Governor‘s Advisory Council comprising all representatives of Fata for carrying out development and administrative functions, the KP government had asserted that the underlying premise of integration and mainstreaming would severely weaken if the larger unit to which Fata is being merged was left out of any decision-making body let alone an advisory body, he said. Instead, it had been proposed that the provincial government and its secretariat be allowed to assist the governor during the transitional phase, which should be as short as possible, he added.

The KP government had agreed with proposal for enhancing approving powers of Fata Development Committee from Rs400 million to Rs2 billion and Fata Development Working Party (FDWP) from Rs200 million to Rs1 billion but after the elections these powers should be reverted to the Provincial Development Working Party (PDWP), he revealed.

The provincial government had also agreed to party-based local government elections, extension of the jurisdiction of Auditor General of Pakistan and abolition of permit system for exports from and imports into Fata. However, with regard to the promulgation of Rewaj Regulations, the provincial government had said that it should be in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Fata and without bypassing the parliament.

With regard to the jurisdictions of the superior judiciary to Fata, the KP government had proposed that it should be made part of the Rewaj Act so that jurisdictions of superior judiciary are extended gradually to the areas, he said.

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