Warns that delay would not avoid a problem, instead it would invite crisis
Islamabad February 15, 2017: Former President and head of the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians Asif Ali Zardari has expressed grave concern over reports that the government has shelved FATA reforms proposals and called for early implementation political reforms to give its people their legitimate rights as equal citizens of the country.
“Delaying reforms any longer in FATA will not avoid a problem; it will only invite a crisis” the former President warned in a statement today ahead of his return to Pakistan this week.
For far too long the patriotic people of tribal areas have been mistreated under the vestige of colonial rule and denied their basic rights. It is a grave anomaly that the Constitution describes tribal areas as part of Pakistan territory but the same Constitution denies them their basic political rights. This anomaly must end if the tribal areas have to be mainstreamed and its people treated as equal citizens of the state, he said.
Zardari said that in view of historical, economic, cultural and political reasons the merger of tribal areas with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and extending jurisdiction of superior courts to it are rational and logical steps forward that must be taken without delay.
On a number of occasions in the past the people of tribal areas have spoken their mind about these vital reforms through local jirgas, in the Parliament through their chosen representatives as well as on the platform of political parties. One such grand jiga was also held in the Presidency when I was the President he said.
Calls for referendum in tribal areas will achieve nothing but delay and possible reverse the reforms process, he said.
There is no provision in the Constitution for referendum in tribal areas which provides for ascertaining the wishes of people for structural changes through jirgas only.
Let us also not forget that the terms ‘referendum’, ‘chief executive’ and ’90 days’ have been badly corrupted by dictatorships.
The former President said that along with rehabilitation of displaced families the powers of President with respect to tribal areas be transferred to the Parliament, giving representation to them in the provincial Assembly of KPK, extending jurisdiction of superior courts, ending the draconian laws and empowering the people through directly elected local governments .
These reforms are vital to give them respect as citizens and liberate the creative energies of the people to participate meaningfully in their socioeconomic development.
Zardari also called for placing before the parliament the proposed Riwaj Act replacing the FCR and the local bodies’ laws before the Parliament instead of being enacted through an executive order.
Zardari also appealed to political leaders opposing these reforms to reconsider their stance and not allow themselves to be remembered as thwarting the reforms against the wishes of the tribal people.
Zardari also asked his party leaders to help develop a consensus on these reforms by engaging the skeptics in dialogue.