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Press Statement by Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Chairman FATA Reforms Committee Islamabad, 02 March 2016

(2017-03-02) A six-member Committee on FATA Reforms was constituted by the Prime Minister in November 2015, under the Chairmanship of Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, to start working with immediate effect and to propose, after consulting all stakeholders, a concrete way forward for the political mainstreaming of FATA. Other Members of the Committee were:-

i. Mr. Zafar Iqbal Jhagra, Governor KPK
ii. Lt. Gen (Retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, Minister for SAFRON
iii. Mr. Zahid Hamid, Minister for Law and Justice
iv. Lt. Gen. (Retd) Nasser Khan Janjua, National Security Adviser
v. Mr. Muhammad Shehzad Arbab, Secretary SAFRON

As required under Article 247(vi) of the Constitution, the FATA Reforms Committee visited all the 7 tribal agencies on the dates indicated against each and held a separate meeting with representatives of 6 Frontier Regions in Peshawar:

Sr. No.

Name of Agency/FRs

Date of Visit

1.

Bajaur Agency

31 December 2015

2.

Mohmand Agency

1 January 2016

3.

Khyber Agency

4 February 2016

4.

Orakzai Agency

28 March 2016

5.

Kurram Agency

28 March 2016

6.

North Waziristan Agency

4 April 2016

7.

South Waziristan Agency

25 April 2016

8.

FRs at Peshawar

2 May 2016



In all, Committee consulted over 3500 tribal maliks and elders during these visits. In addition, in each agency, the Committee also met representatives of all political parties, traders, lawyers, youth and representatives of civil society.

The Committee also held four consultative meetings with FATA Parliamentarians. The very first meeting of the FRC was held with 19 FATA Parliamentarians on 10th December, 2015, where the Parliamentarians gave the committee a written memorandum containing 7 points of advice; they gave the committee the right to choose the best future trajectory that FATA should take, including its mainstreaming.

The Committee presented its report to the Prime Minister on 23 August 2016 and to the National Security Committee on 24 August 2016. The Prime Minister, while endorsing the Committee's recommendations, in principle, directed that the Report should be made public and also presented to Parliament for discussion.

On 9th September 2016, Mr. Sartaj Aziz tabled the FATA Reforms Committee Report in the National Assembly for discussion, followed by similar presentation of the Report in the Senate on 27th September, 2016. On the whole, the recommendations of the FATA Reforms Committee were received positively in the Parliament.

Meanwhile the consultative process also continued through the media. The Report of the Committee was placed on the website of the Ministry of States and Frontier Region and a Hotline was provided to record the views of the people from FATA. Uptill February 2017, about 30000 persons had given their views on different aspects of the Reforms. Most of them supported the recommendations for the merger of FATA with KPK and abolition of FCR.

Based on this wide ranging and positive feedback, the Ministry of States and Frontier Region submitted, on 13 December 2016, a Summary to the Cabinet to seek approval of the recommendations including necessary modifications and additions in the light of the discussions in Parliament and the consultative process.

The Cabinet considered the Summary on 15 December 2016. While endorsing the main recommendations, the Cabinet desired that efforts should be made to develop a consensus on one or two issues that remain. This process was completed by February 2017 and a revised Summary was considered by the Cabinet on 2 March 2017. The package of reforms as approved by the Cabinet is as follows:

Cabinet Decisions:

i. Approval in principle to the, recommendation of the Committee to mainstream FATA in 5 years, in consultation with different stakeholders of FATA.

ii. Make provision, through a constitutional amendment, to enable the people of FATA to elect their representatives to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in the 2018 elections along with other consequential amendments.

iii. FCR will be repealed and replaced by a new Rewaj Regulation for Tribal Areas which should be submitted to the President for approval under Article 247 of the constitution. Provisions relating to collective/vicarious responsibility will be omitted, thereby making an individual responsible for his own acts.

iv. The target date for repatriation of all TDPs should be 30th April, 2017 and most activities under the reconstruction phase should be completed before the end of 2018.

v. A Special Committee of high level experts and officials should be formed under the Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to prioritize preparation of a 10-year Socio-Economic Development Plan for FATA by 30th April 2017.

vi. The NFC should be requested to consider making an allocation of 3% of the gross federal divisible pool on annual basis for the implementation of FATA Development Plan. This will be in addition to the existing annual PSDP allocation of Rs. 21 billion.

vii. 30% of the allocation in the FATA Development Plan should be channeled through the local bodies.

viii. FATA Development Authority (FDA) may be reorganized under a Chief Operating Officer (COO) in BS-22 to supervise and coordinate the reconstruction phase and implementation of the 10-year Socio-Development Plan for FATA.

ix. A Governor's Advisory Council consisting of all FATA Senators and MNAs may be set up to assist the Governor in carrying out development and administrative functions.

x. The approving powers of FATA Development Committee may be enhanced through due process from the present Rs. 400 million to Rs. 2 billion and that of FDWP from Rs. 200 million to Rs. 1 billion.

xi. Party based local bodies elections should be held in FATA soon after 2018 general elections.

xii. Permit/Rahdari system for exports from and imports into FATA should be abolished to eliminate large scale corruption and to bring down prices of essential items in FATA. Correspondingly, necessary funds should be provided in the budget for operational expenditure of the political administration.

xiii. Auditor General of Pakistan should ensure that development funds and all other expenditure of local bodies in FATA are properly audited to ensure efficient utilization.

xiv. Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Peshawar High Court should be extended to FATA through an Act of Parliament so that the inhabitants of FATA can enjoy equal rights.

xv. Additional posts in the Levies force may be sanctioned for performing agency/police functions in consultation with Finance Division. Destroyed/damaged Levies posts should be reconstructed and provision of additional infrastructure for Levies to ensure round-the-clock security should be undertaken. Decision to create new wings in the civil armed forces will be reviewed.

xvi. Capacity building of FC should be undertaken and additional new wings of FC may be created for improved border management.

xvii. All posts in FATA should be upgraded and brought at par with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Salaries for the project personnel in FATA should be 20% higher than that admissible under the project policy of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

xviii. Connectivity of FATA with CPEC should be ensured at suitable locations.

xix. State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) should encourage establishment of more branches of banks in FATA.

xx. The President Order No. 13 of 1972 regarding deputation of civil servants in FATA may be suitably revised to empower the Governor to attract competent officers from multiple sources for the transition period.

xxi. Land settlement should be planned and undertaken in consultation with the stake holders by using modern technology to create GIS based computerized individual record of rights.

xxii. Proper coverage of BISP, Bait-ul-Maal and microfinance schemes in FATA should be ensured.

xxiii. Quota of FATA students in education and health institutions in other provinces should be doubled and retained for 10 years after integration with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

xxiv. Set up a Directorate of Transition and Reforms for coordinating and monitoring the reforms as recommended in Chapter 5 of the Report.