Actions, not hollow promises

In his speech in the national Assembly, when there were less than 20 lawmakers of 342 members house, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi promised that FATA reforms for mainstreaming of tribal areas will be enforced in the remaining tenure of current government. But he did not categorically said that, as an integral part of these reforms package, tribal areas will be merged with KP and due representation to its people shall be given in the Provincial Assembly by electing their representatives in the upcoming general elections. However, he announced that local bodies’ elections will be held in FATA before October.

The Prime Minster also said that modalities for implementing these reforms will be discussed with the representatives of political parties and other stakeholders. Strange enough, that the PML-N led federal government could not work out the modalities of FATA reforms during the past few years when all the political parties are vociferously demanding the fast track implementation of these reforms including FATA merger with KP. But reforms package has been deliberately made hostage to the whims of the leadership s of JUI (F) and Pk MAP who want the perpetuation of statuesque to keep the patriotic tribesmen as third grade citizens by depriving them from their fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan.

Referring to the meeting of implementation committee on FATA reforms, which he chaired his arrival to the National Assembly, the Prime Minster stated that the government would implement the reforms in an effort to bring tribal areas at par with other parts of the country through development schemes. He said, the parliament and all other stakeholders are committed to implementing FATA reforms. Everyone wants to bring it into the national mainstream. But thorough discussion was needed on reforms. The majority of political parties that have representation in the parliament, and which demand implementation of reforms, FATA members of Parliament and of course millions of tribal people are the genuine stakeholders. What does the phraseology of other stakeholders signify? Does it mean the leaderships of JUI (F) and Pk MAP who are bent upon torpedoing the FATA reforms? Pk MAP has no vote bank in tribal areas. Yes the former disqualified Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif has made Mahmood Khan Achakzai as his ideological mentor. But he should have no say in the implementation of FATA reforms.

The slogan of bringing tribal areas at par with other parts of the country through development schemes has become a cliché because it has been used over and over by successive KP Governors and FATA bureaucracy and media managers of Governors’ House during the last 30 years. The bitter reality is that bulk of development funds allocated in ADPs is lapsed and misappropriated every year and hence no positive impact on life of tribesmen. A front page news story in a leading Urdu daily newspaper reveals that the federal government has withheld Rs. 10 billion FATA developments funds and out Rs. 24 billion ADP allocations Rs. 11 billion have been released whereas FATA Secretariat and its subordinate line departments have spent R.8 billion on the schemes peoples’ uplift. The livestock department has utilized 30 percent of the released money; housing department 22 percent; public health engineering 21 percent; and health department 21 percent. This is the pathetic state of affairs of FATA mainstreaming through development schemes. The reforms package needs implementation in totality without further delay and piecemeal strategy will be counterproductive.