Don’t Hold Back FATA Reform, Sherry

Don’t Hold Back FATA Reform, Sherry

 

ISLAMABAD, September 19, 2017: Vice-President PPPP, Senator Sherry Rehman, criticized the rampant corruption an injustice that has become prevalent in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Speaking during the Senate Committee of the Whole meeting on FATA, the Senator expressed her disbelief over the misallocation of the PSDP saying, “The Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) allocation for FATA was only utilized by 60% according to the Minister. This is quite shocking to hear that one of the most underdeveloped areas in Pakistan saw a Rs. 40 million lapse”.

According to a recent UNDP report, the highest rates of poverty in Pakistan are in the FATA and Balochistan areas. The report revealed that over 73% of the people in FATA live in multidimensional poverty.

 

“The Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) allocation for FATA was only utilized by 60% according to the Minister. This is quite shocking to hear that one of the most underdeveloped areas in Pakistan saw a Rs. 40 million lapse”

 

The Senator pointed out that, “From the report, it seems like the FATA Committee did not consult women. Women in FATA are victims of both entrenched social attitudes that restrict their public and political space but have no voice in this reform which will greatly impact their lives. There needs to be a separate consultation with FATA’s women to make this meaningful”.

 

During the meeting, it was also disclosed that the Political Agent still had the power of levying a “cess” or tax. “This is entirely illegal and unconstitutional and must be stopped forthwith because it only amounts to a plunder of the area. We demand a forensic audit of what the Political Agent has been doing. This money must be returned to the people of FATA for their development,” said Rehman.

 

“The highest rates of poverty in Pakistan are in the FATA and Balochistan areas. The report revealed that over 73% of the people in FATA live in multidimensional poverty”

 

The Vice-President of PPPP added, “Despite the extension of the law to allow the Auditor General PR to review the accounts and funds, this is not happening. Corruption is not just rampant, it is endemic and widespread. Cess and rehdari is not supposed to be collected but remains embedded in the culture of constant informal arrangements”.

Rehman further stated, “The plan of extending Islamabad High Court jurisdiction to FATA makes no sense when Peshawar High Court can do the same job. This must change”.

In 2009, it was former President Asif Ali Zardari who announced major legal and political reforms in the tribal areas to free the people of FATA from the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) and pave the way for their mainstreaming.

 

“The plan of extending Islamabad High Court jurisdiction to FATA makes no sense when Peshawar High Court can do the same job. This must change”

 

Rehman cautioned against the long period of activation of the reforms, saying, “I am deeply suspicious of “reform” that is phased over such a long period and via elite networks of only tribal notables as well as the governor’s office. Islamabad looks all set to retain its stranglehold on these seven areas. Unification with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the consensus and the most viable way forward.”

“Why should the extension of Pakistan’s laws take an additional five years? Who will take responsibility for decisions taken even 2 years from now? Why should there be a CEO who operates through an additional secretary?” questioned the Senator, warning that this will bring FATA back to executive rule via the governor.

 

Unification with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the consensus and the most viable way forward.”

 

Rehman also pointed out transparency needs to be added to which law will replace the highly criticized FCR, “Anything that includes jirga in the law is a bad idea as it is vulnerable to misuse. It will institutionalize the bias that has been at play for centuries against many universal and fundamental rights framework,” concluded the Senator.


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