Fundamental rights : Civil society, lawyers demand superior courts in FATA

PESHAWAR: People from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) threatened a sit-in outside the Presidency in Islamabad if the government failed to extend the jurisdiction of superior courts.

Addressing a news conference at Peshawar Press Club on Tuesday, civil society organisations demanded the Senate and National Assembly pass the constitutional amendment bill introduced by Senator Farhatullah Babar on August 11, 2014. It aims to extend the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and high court to Fata.

Research and Advocacy Coordinator of the Centre for Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA), Imran Khan, said the Senate already adopted a unanimous resolution to amend Article 247 on October 26, 2014. Immediately after the resolution, the bill was referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice.

However, the bill is yet to be put to the vote in the Senate, he said. The activists demanded the amended bill be approved prior to the Senate elections in March 2015.

FATA Lawyers Forum President Ejaz Mohmand highlighted the miseries of people displaced from the tribal areas. He said Fata residents were suffering because their representatives lacked powers of legislation.

FATA Civil Society Network Coordinator Manzoor Afridi demanded amendments to the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR). He said if the FCR was indeed effective, it should be applied throughout Pakistan. He added Article 247 and the FCR violated fundamental rights granted by the Constitution of Pakistan.

Participants said if the Parliament does not amend Article 247, it would send a clear message to the people of Fata that the government was least bothered by governance issues faced by tribesmen.