An opened doors on the reforms of FATA must not closed. Fata needs to get rid of FRC and executive orders from Islamabad, as a last colonial legacy. Moreover, the peace in rest of Pakistan is conditional to the peace in FATA, which is again conditional with the peace in Afghanistan. This was a consensus among Keynote Speakers and participants, who attended a seminar on The Merger of Fata, arranged by Shaheed Bhutto Foundation, here at Szabist campus Auditorium, Islamabad.
The seminar was presided by Senator Farhatullah Babar, and addressed by another Senator from FATA, Sajid Hussain Turi, Senator Rubina Khalid, Akhunzada Chattan, Ayaz Wazir, Afrasiyab Khattak, Asif Khan, Anita Mehsud, and was hugely attended by representatives from different tribes of Fata, political parties, civil society activists, academia and concerned citizens.
Senator Farhatullah Babar was very passionate, as he spoke with his concluding remarks that, an opened door on the reforms of Fata must not be closed, as Fata needed to get rid of colonial baggage of FCR and Executive Orders from Islamabad. For this, he opined that the drivers of change in Fata are its own people and no other actors, who are politicizing the proposed merger, at its critical time when there was a consensus across country on its board-based reforms, most preferably its conditional and gradual merger with the KP.
In his speech, senior analyst, Ayaz Wazir advocated that, in the light of broader and longer interests, the demand of a separate province carried more weight, as with that option, Fata, would have an access to more resources, representation. However, this option was strongly opposed by other speakers and attendees. On which, he responded that, instead of a merger of Fata with KP, a separate province would be more beneficial and futuristic. For this, as an option, no one should grossly overrule or discard that.
Senator Sajid Hussain Turi, who himself belonged to Fata passionately seconded the option of a merger instead of other options – either referendum or status quo, as he argued be proceeded without any delay, otherwise, since last seventy years, Fata was stuck in between rule of law or as otherwise, negatively known in rest of county and abroad.
Senator Turi also suggested several points for its inclusion in the proposed Rawaj Act that had to replace as and when FCR is discarded with the proposed reform package. He emphasized more on the latest census, resource allocation, developmental package and an issue of IDPs that needed rehabilitation, before any reform package on the fate of Fata.
Senator Rubina Khalid appreciated the reform package on Fata and provided a critical appraisal on its way-forward. On which, she viewed that Federal Government was unclear and lacked clear-headed plan on its way-forward, creating more confusion and doubts.
Akhunzada Chattan, a former PPP, MNA from FATA had a thunderous talk, as he demanded that like naming of NWFP to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA also needed a renewed identity that it lacked since the birth of country. Before any reform, he demanded a three-pronged solution. For which he asked for a peace to the Fata, which he thought was dependent on the complete rehabilitation of dislocated IDPs, added with their basic human rights, as he lamented Fata, badly lacked on those three fronts. In that unfortunate scenario, he questioned that, how any reform package of its merger with KP would become a success?
Asif Khan criticized Maulana Fazl Rehman and Mehmood Khan Achakzai, on becoming a last-minute barriers towards Fata reforms as Cabinet is skeptical and reluctant to approve since months. He argued that it could jeopardize the overall process that was turning into a big success, if inked finally, with diversified inputs and taking on-board all political forces.
Aneeta Mehdud, a PTI activist clearly advocated the merger of Fata with KP, as she thought, an age-old mindset and mechanisms were the real barrier for making it happen. For this, she appealed all forces to second the merger of Fata with KP, as in her opinion also as the daughter of a tribe from Fata, it was the most appropriate option to move with.
Earlier, Sikandar Ali Hullio, Chief Executive, Shaheed Bhutto Foundation (SBF), welcomed all participants and briefed that, SBF has been closely monitoring and facilitating the reform package on Fata in both technical and opinion-making capacities. He also told that the merger and Fata and its way-forward needed marathon deliberations, before its announcement. For which, SBF was making all possible efforts including that particular seminar which gathered all sections of the society.