Youth from different tribal areas including women said that government is not sincere towards FATA mainstreaming. Mostly expressed reservations over the process of emerging FATA into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.
Nisar Muhammad, student from Bajaur agency, He remarked “We have examples like these, former president Asif Ali Zardari renamed the NWFP label on Pashtuns province, only with a presidential order, which becomes Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.” He added that Gilgit Baltistan was also granted with a separate council very quick process, then why they do not take quick decision for FATA. Calling it a game Nisar said “That’s why I am saying that government is playing a game in the name of merger, it would all go same as like FCR.”
Hundreds of jurisdictional boundaries interlace through the rolling hills and rivers that make up FATA and its surrounding suburbs. The region is engraved into several neighborhood having its own identity. FATA collectively constructed of Pashtun Boarder Land but what makes the area unique is that many of these communities also have their own government devouring a law with the name of FCR (Federal Crimes Regulation), in other words people living there, called it a Black Law and want to liberate of. After annexation of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) by the British government in the year 1848, they found that the ordinary civil and criminal laws were not suitable for these areas.
Given this level of fragmentation and public concerns has opposed merger of Federally Administered Tribal Area with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and asked the federal government to instead focus on rehabilitation of the displaced tribesmen.
“Govt. is playing a game in the name of merger, it would all go same as like FCR.”
Gilgat Baltistan was granted with a separate council very quickly then why they do not take quick decision for FATA. “That’s why I am saying that government may play game in the name of merger,” Nisar added.
He said that before bringing other reforms in the tribal region the government should scrap FCR, improve the standard of education and health.
Burhanuddin is from Kurram Agency and former president of Fata Student Federation. He said that youth are worried because nothing is clear to us. They say that Riwaj Act will replace FCR but what is Riwaj Act? This is a big question.
“If they were sincere, they would have disclosed everything that is in the reforms package,” said Burhan.
It is to be worthy mentioned, Pakistani establishment started efforts to bring FATA to mainstream after the deadliest war against militancy throughout country. Premier Nawaz formed a committee headed by Sartaj Aziz, to visit FATA, for meetings and dialogues with all stakeholders. The differences among Pashtuns nationalists reached to climax over FATA’s new status. All voices became silent when Federal Cabinet approved FATA reforms bill, while a new discussion took place. Mostly stakeholders called it a new game of establishment, for FCR existence.
Most of FATA youth were happy and vows for merge FATA in KP but surprisingly they are worried about government stance over the merger and lake of trust on sitting government.
Because of the militant’s insurgency and the subsequent efforts by the government to restore peace in the once troubled tribal agencies, thousands of families were forced to migrate to safer places. The displacing process were also a challenge for government to rehabilitate the IDP’s and again they are shifted to the home town safely and it’s a terrible experience for youth as it completely shattered there future. Their education was badly effected and many were rendered jobless overall social life of the tribal youth was reduced to makeshift camps.
According to the statistics provided by the FATA Secretariat, the total population of the tribal areas is about 4.7 million. Among them, 8, 02,535 (about 17%) are youth between 15 to 24 years of age.
Fawad Dawar a young politician added that government was afraid of losing FATA as its tertiary. He said that more than half of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) were still not rehabilitated then how they could claim that FATA’s people have decided the merger.
“So-called FATA Reforms Committee claims that merger is the choice of tribal people. Whom did they ask for? No political leader, no MNA, no youth, no woman and no common person was asked about what they want,” he added harshly
On the other side, however, Provincial government of KP were agree to spend funds from its resources for FATA’s merger and make comprehensive planning for rehabilitation of displaced people. KP government was agree to improve the living condition of tribal people an aimed to be merged before 2018 election.
Pointing the latest survey conducted by the FATA Secretariat and the bureau of statistic shows that war and extremism has left the tribal belt in tatters.
At least 44.2% children in FATA have never enrolled in school despite the fact that the average distance from an institute is 1.8 kilometers as opposed to 3.4km in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The volatile security situation is to blame as the availability of schools and quality of education is adversely affected. Turning to employment, the crude activity rate for FATA is 24.2% and 32.3% for the rest of Pakistan and an overall 6.9% of the children between 5 and 14 years of age are involved in child labor.
“We will have legislative majority, where we will be able to bring our prime minister who will be from FATA.”
Expressing his concerns over government intentions, Fawad Dawar said, “The ‘so called’ FATA Reforms Committee claims that merger is the choice of tribal people. Whom did they ask? No political leader, no MNA, no youth, no woman and no common person was asked about what they want, the committee members visited FATA for 7 days and arranged a few meetings at Peshawar and decided all this with the local tribal elders who work as their paid slaves.”
After 14 month longs consultation process, Federal Cabinet approved a 10-year ‘reforms package’ committee for proposed merger of FATA with KP, and steps to be taken to bring the tribal region with same pace like other developing areas of the country.
Most of FATA’s youth are not ready to accept any option other than merger. They ask government to take steps for it sincerely.
Aziza is a social worker and political activist who besides activism is actively involved in training of young girls from the terror hit tribal areas. She stated that merger is the only solution of all problems in FATA. She said I am hopeful for our future. We will get more majority and more power if we are merged into KP. She hoped “I see the future, where we will have legislative majority, where we will be able to bring our prime minister who will be from FATA.”
However, like most of the youth, Aziza also expressed concerns over government’s seriousness, “As much as government delay mainstreaming process, our worries will be increased.”
FATA’s youth have strongly reacted over delay and their zero representation in the ongoing mainstreaming process. Many student organizations and youth groups have stages protests and started campaigns on social media to pressurize government.
Arifa a young schoolteacher also demanded immediate merger, she expressed “The more they delay, the more they increase our insecurities. I think no one will trust government, if they show laziness in mainstreaming FATA.” She put forwarded that mainstreaming FATA is not only our demand but it is our basic right. “We also want to live like other common Pakistani citizens,” she said.
It is to be noted, a part of youth are also disagree and argue that merger is not a good solution. They say that, if FATA were merged with KP, tribal people would not be able to ‘compete’ KP’s people.
Mohammad Fayaz Afridi said that FATA’s people could not get more opportunities as KP’s people could, because the province is more developed that the tribal areas. He told that government should stop corruption in FATA and empower it economically.
Uzma, a media student from FATA, said that FATA’s merger would create more issues for its people. She debated there are so many differences between FATA and KP; we cannot compare tribal areas to the province. Merger was good only if government was honest. ‘We are suffering from a system of ignorance, where only political agent is the only boss along with Maliks. We want an end to it whether by merger or creating a new council,” she added.
Khalil ur Rehman Afridi, of Khyber Agency who is a young engineer, said that there are much bigger problems than FATA’s merger, we want free tribal areas of poverty, bad governance and illiteracy before the merger and abolition of FATA.
Ayesha is a university students in Peshawar, who is not in favour of FATA’s merger with KP and says that KP is more advance in all aspect than FATA then how tribal people can survive where KP’s people will be given equal opportunities, as FATA’s people will be. She said that the reforms plan is not clear to every tribal, simply neither government is honest to reduce our deprivations nor we can trust.
“The more they delay, the more they increase our insecurities; Arifa”
Member of National Assembly (MNA) from Bajaur, Shahabuddin, while answering a question about the reaction of FATA’s youth, said that the youth should wait until next month. He told FATA’s merger resolution would be tabled in the next session of NA this month. “Youth are politicized by some political leaders,” he added, “There is no delay in mainstreaming FATA. Everything is going well.”
He explained that the merger was a part of the previous NA sessions but issue of the military court caused to postpone FATA’s merger approval. He said that it would be approved before the budget 2017 otherwise; this government will lose the opportunity to mainstream FATA.
“There is no delay in mainstreaming FATA. Everything is going well; Shahabuddin”
Shah Jee Gul Afridi, MNA from Khyber Agency, said that government never wants to lose the opportunity of FATA’s merger. He said the reforms process needs more time, “FATA’s case is not that much simple like GB. Government is under huge pressure to extend constitutional laws to the tribal areas.” He added that youth would not be neglected and government is aware about the worries of them.
The reforms committee have proposed a 10-year development and 5-year merger plan for FATA. However, youth are also concerned about the rehabilitation of IDPs. They say that the IDPs will face more ignorant situation than they face today. According to “internal Displacement Monitoring Center” total 1,459,000 people of FATA’s 188,925,000 population were displaced.
Uzma said that tribal people are now tired of this outdated system of FCR and they want to get rid of it.
Fawad said that IDPs are still living in tents and their homes are destroyed in FATA. “First bring back those people to their homes, empower them economically and provide all basic facilities of life to
FATA youth called upon the government to take pragmatic steps for reconstruction and rehabilitation of the damaged infrastructure and restoration of sustainable peace in tribal regions before the implementation of the proposed reforms agenda in FATA.