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PPP MP asks govt to come out clean on Fata reforms.

The Pakistan People's Party on Thursday asked the government to come out clean on the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas' reforms issue.

PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the piecemeal extension of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the Peshawar High Court at the 'whim of the federal government as proposed in the bill passed by the National Assembly amounted to hoodwinking the people and smacked of something sinister and asked the government to come out clean on it'.

Speaking at a seminar on the proposed legislation to extend the jurisdiction of superior courts to Fata organized by Bhutto Foundation here, he said just like Fata, the superior courts initially also did not have jurisdiction over the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas including Chitral, Dir, Swat, Malakand.

'In 1973, the jurisdiction of superior courts was extended to these areas with immediate effect and without requiring official notification. Why the scheme is designed differently now. There is a lurking suspicion of some foul play.'

He suspected that the piecemeal extension may be employed to pave way for Shakil Afridi's release under foreign pressure. 'I am not against Afridi's release because he has been wrongly sentenced under Frontier Crime Regulations for allegedly helping Mangal Bagh and not for locating Osama Bin Laden,' he said. 'However it is wrong to hoodwink the tribal people with false hopes and vague promises,' he said.

Senator Babar said that an amendment bill had already been moved in the Senate for the immediate applicability of the proposed legislation throughout tribal areas. 'We will also push for a constitutional amendment bill to take away the legislative powers in respect of Fata from the president and vest it in the parliament,' he said.

Peace and development in tribal areas, he said, will remain elusive until the elephant in the black hole of Fata was identified and reined in, pleading for a review of Pakistan's Afghan policy. 'Afghanistan must be treated as a sovereign and an independent country and not as Pakistan's fifth province,' he said.

The lawmaker also demanded immediate demolition of the existing system of levy and collection of taxes, cess and rahdari (toll tax) by the political agents in tribal areas which were 'arbitrary, illegal and a tool for corruption.'

The poor people, the Senator said, were subjected to illegal tax on transportation of every merchandise of daily use. He said it was a lucrative business for some and demanded an end to it.

The PPP leader also called for the audit of the public spending by the civil-military bureaucratic complex in Fata.

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Publication:The Nation (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Jan 26, 2018
Previous Article:PPP flays online registration of participants.

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