FATA's merger with KPK : Is it the best solution?

FATA's merger with KPK : Is it the best solution?

ISLAMABAD: (APP) Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz Saturday said the FATA Reforms Committee had recommended that the best solution was to merge Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

"The people of FATA have suffered a lot during the last 30 years and the time has come to bring them at par with rest of the country," he said while speaking in a Pakistan Television programme.

He said the unveiled recommendations were aimed at mainstreaming FATA to end poverty and years of neglect. He, however, added that the merger of FATA with KKP could not take place immediately as for it socio-economic escalation of the area and return of its Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) was a must.

The KP government had no resources to tackle the issue alone and the federal government would have to take responsibilities of security and administrative affairs of FATA, he added.

He said five-year period had been recommended for the transition phase while development target would be completed in 10 years.

To a question about return of IDPs, he said all the IDPs in FATA would be returned to their hometowns by the end of this year.

He said the FATA Reforms Committee had recommended to the government for allocation of 3 per cent funds in the National Finance Commission award for FATA. At present the federal government allocation for FATA was Rs 20 billion and after its 3 per cent share in the NFC award, they would get additional Rs 90 billion, he added.

Sartaj Aziz said the amount would help construction of infrastructure and big urban centres in FATA, besides setting up educational and health facilities there.

Integrating FATA into KP, he said, made more sense keeping in view the close horizontal linkages of agencies and FRs with the adjacent KP districts. Those trade and economic links were also reinforced by social and cultural consanguinity with FATA tribes, the committee recommendations said.

Sartaj said even the provincial assembly of KP had passed a resolution to merge FATA with the province.

He said the committee had also recommended for holding of local bodies polls in FATA by next year so that the local government system start functioning there.

He said 20,000 Levies personnel would be recruited for FATA which would work as agencies' police.

He said the FATA Reforms Committee also favoured replacing the existing draconian law of Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) with the new "Tribal Areas Rewaj Act" and the Jirga system while the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and High Court would also be extended to FATA.

To a question about Indian adamant attitude towards Kashmir, he said talks between Pakistan and India without discussing the issue was useless.

He said Pakistan would sensitize the world community about gross human rights violations by Indian forces in held Kashmir and provide moral, political and diplomatic support to the people there.

He said Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif would raise the Kashmir issue in the United Nations General Assembly meeting next month.

About allegations of the Afghan government against Pakistan regarding the recent attack on a university in Kabul, the Advisor said instead of blame game, evidence of such incidents should be shared with Pakistan.