Quick, Transparent Reforms For Tribal Districts

PESHAWAR: With two months having passed since a landmark constitutional amendment was passed to merge the tribal areas with the settled districts, the civil society in the province has demanded quick and transparent implementation of reforms in the erstwhile tribal agencies.

This was the unequivocal demand of participants of a seminar on the “Implementation of 25th Constitutional Amendment: Legal and Institutional Setup in Newly Merged Districts in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (formerly Fata)”. The seminar had been organised by the Centre for Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA) in the provincial capital on Tuesday.

The participants demanded that the 25th constitutional amendment must be implemented in its true letter and spirit.

The constitutional amendment had merged seven tribal districts in the federally administered tribal areas (Fata) and six Frontier Regions in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) with the rest of the province, handing administrative control to Peshawar.

Moreover, they demanded that provincial assembly elections should be held in the newly merged districts, establishing a judicial setup, holding local government elections, review the National Finance Commission (NFC) award to allocate additional resources to K-P

Peshawar University Area Study Centre Director Professor Dr Sarfraz Khan termed the 25th constitutional amendment welcoming but feared that if social service delivery and justice system were not improved, it may push the residents of the tribal districts to protests — as seen in the recent past.

He also emphasized that the federal government should release all the money pending as hydro royalty and the promised Rs100 billion for development in erstwhile Fata.

Advocate Zahir Shah Safi demanded immediate elections for the provincial assembly seats in the newly merged districts. He also termed the Fata Interim Governance Regulations 2018 as a second Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR-2).

Dr Ashraf Ali echoed demands of Safi for holding the provincial assembly and local government elections at the earliest in the region.

Advocate Ijaz Mohmand, the former president of the Fata Lawyers Forum, claimed that despite passing the laws, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) was still hesitant in entertaining cases related to newly merged districts.

K-P Chief Information Commissioner Hanif Orakzai shared his plan to extend the provincial right to information (RTI) law to the Malakand division (former Provincially Administered Tribal Area) first since these areas now fall under the direct jurisdiction of the provincial assembly.

CGPA Executive Director Muhammad Anwar demanded that the provincial and federal governments provide the required resources for land settlement in the newly merged areas, establishing the judicial setup and holding elections on provincial assembly seats as soon as possible.

However, the main task of the newly elected government in K-P will be to negotiate a better NFC with an increase of at least three per cent share of K-P, he remarked.