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Conference Report1

FATA was maintaining a special status during


British India and was administered through
Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) since 1901.
With the creation of Pakistan, its status remained
unchanged. However, its geo-strategic importance
and Buffer Zone status was at the central stage of
debate at National level. Since 9/11, FATA
remained in focus and went through the rough
shades of worst kind of violence. The people of
FATA are the worst affected from the War on
Terror. As the tides of violence are receding, the
realization of mainstreaming of FATA is
increasing and change in its special status is
gaining momentum.

tanks has its pros and cons, merits and demerits


and implications with long ranging consequences
at the constitutional, political, security, and socioeconomic plinth. It is therefore of a high value and
importance for all the stakeholders to deliberate
threadbare upon such proposals and initiatives, and
suggest valuable and workable approaches to be
adopted in determining the status of FATA.
Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad has been
working for many years on this important issue by
organizing a number of Seminars, Round-Tables,
and several discussion panels and covering it in its
publications.

A number of initiatives in the recent past are


coming up, aimed at reforms in the status and
governance of the Federally Administered Tribal
Areas (FATA). It goes without saying that each of
the proposals and initiatives highlighted by
political parties, tribal Jirgas and various think

In pursuance of the same, a Round-Table


Conference under the title FATA Reforms:
Proposals, Consequences and Approaches,
was arranged on Dec 21, 2015. The conference
brought

together senior experts hailing from FATA,


senior
scholars,
administrators
and
representatives of key political parties.

of FATA. They were also briefed about the


initiatives, conferences, seminars, roundtables
and publications of the host institution on the
concerned issue.

In order to remain focus on FATA and channelize


the proposals and deliberations towards a viable
solution, the participants were given a recap of
the constitutional, political and people concerns
and perceptions in light of the constitutional
provisions and dichotomies regarding the people

The speakers in their deliberations brought a


number of diverse opinions regarding the current
status, proposed reforms and underlined the
implications of the change in the status of FATA.
The main points discussed at the session are;

The speakers of the conference were, (1) Brig. (r) Said Nazir Mohmand; Senior IPS Associate (2) Amb. (r) Ayaz Wazir;
former Ambassador of Pakistan (3) Dr. Fakhrul Islam; Director Pakistan Study Centre, UoP Peshawar (4) Mian Iftikhar
Hussain; Secretary General ANP (5) Sahibzada Haroon ur Rasheed; Ex. MNA & Ameer-e-JI, FATA (6) Mr. Habibullah Khan
Khatak; Ex. Secretary SAFRON (7) Dr. Ashraf Ali; Ex. President FATA Research Centre, Islamabad (8) Mr. Khalid Rahman;
Director General Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad.

[1]

FATA is under stress and under


developed since the inception of
Pakistan.
In the distant past, only intelligentsia was
aware of the problems and status of
FATA, but after the coming of Internally
Displaced Persons (IDPs) to the settled
areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it
provided an opportunity to the people of
FATA to realize the difference between
the life styles of FATA and the settled
areas.
The IDPs, if repatriated to the shattered
zone after Operation Zarb-e-Azb without
a comprehensive rehabilitation package,
will find it difficult to live and manage the
damage.
There was a consensus and consistent
opinion that change in the status of FATA
is the need of the hour. It is inevitable and
if
delayed
will
have
serious
consequences.
The uncertainty is haunting the people of
FATA and unpopular and knee jerk
solution may be exploited to the boil.
Talking about the legislative powers of
the FATA lawmakers, the speakers
stressed on the complete empowerment
of MNAs and Senators elected from
FATA, to do the legislation for FATA.
The parliamentarians of FATA are the
direct source of contact between
government and the people. So the
parliamentarians must consult the people
of their constituencies before going to the
Parliament for reforms.

Parliamentarians were enthusiastic in


tabling the 22nd Amendment Bill, but now
lack the zeal for bringing real reforms and
are shy of participating in such debates,
forums, and seminars.
Before the implementation of reforms, its
details must be shared with the
stakeholders and the people of FATA via
wide ranging consultation.
The scope of the Reforms Committee for
FATA2 be enlarged to include the
representatives of FATA. Its terms of
reference be determined and a whole sum
approach be adopted in a way that the
people of FATA feel empowered.
A whole sum reform package with
incremental approach will prevail across
FATA.
The experts emphasized to make FATA a
place worth living in peace with ample
opportunities for progress and prosperity.
The Reforms Agenda must also include a
comprehensive
strategy
for
the
empowerment of the people of FATA, so
that they can become stakeholders in
running the affairs of FATA.
FCR; in every aspect is against the
International Human Rights, which must
be abolished immediately, being ultravires to the basic spirit of the constitution.
The 22nd Amendment Bill was also
discussed in detail, and was termed as a
historic opportunity for changing the
status of FATA, via constitutional
amendments and provisions.

SAFRON Lt. Gen. (r) Abdul Qader Baloch as its Secretary,


Governor KPK Sardar Mehtab Abbasi, Advisor to Prime
Minister on National Security Issues Lt. Gen. (r) Nasir
Janjua and Minister for Climate Change and Human Rights
Zahid Hamid as its members.

The FATA Reforms Committee is formulated by Prime


Minister Nawaz Sharif on Nov 08, 2015, comprising of
five members, i.e. Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign
Affairs Mr. Sartaj Aziz as its Chairman, Minister for

[2]

Most of the representatives of the


political parties were supporting the
stance of merging FATA in KPK on the
lines of Provincially Administered Tribal
Areas (PATA). Through this the tribal
status, culture and life style of the people
of FATA can also be maintained. It was
termed as an easy, practicable and
reliable method of changing the status of
FATA. Nevertheless, some of the
speakers were of the opinion that PATA
like status is not a viable option, rather it
should be mainstreamed like other areas
of Pakistan. Making it the fifth federating
unit with an incremental approach will be
prudent option.
Temporarily, FATA should be detached
from the Governor KPK and brought
under the FATA Council for one year,
and then reforms package be prepared
and peoples will and wish be determined
through referendum.
Referendum is also sought as a viable
option, through which the direct will of
the common people can be sought as a
determining factor.
It was also highlighted that the National
Action
Plan
emphasizes
on
mainstreaming of FATA for ensuring
peace in the region. The need for reforms
highlighted in the ISPR Press Release has
augmented the process.
FATA Legislative Council along with a
separate governor/administrator was also
among the opinions shared in the
conference.

Creation of FATA Council and holding


of Local Bodies Election must be done on
emergency basis.
For the economic uplifting of FATA, it
must be made an integral part of China
Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). All
the seven tribal agencies should be linked
with each other via a lateral road to the
belt from Bajaur to Wana in South
Waziristan.
Sustainable Development Goals set out
by United Nations should be linked to
FATA for uplifting its every sector of
life.
To the end of the office of the President
be used to change the status of FATA as
given in the constitution.
The broad consensus was that change in
the status of FATA is inevitable, at this
point of time and the issue be tackled
seriously with acceptability factor
overriding.

In concluding the whole debate, the speakers


stressed upon the point that the current wave of
reforms is a historical and feasible opportunity,
which should be availed by the lawmakers,
policy makers and other stakeholders. The
current consensus of the political parties and
lawmakers is the milestone for bringing reforms.
What may be the reform agenda, but it should be
resonating with the voice of the people and
should bring positive changes in the life style of
the people of FATA despite of creating more
disturbance and anarchy in the locality and the
whole country.

Prepared by:
Khalid Rahman: Director General, Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad
Mairaj ul Hamid: Assistant Research Coordinator, Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad

[3]