ACCORDING to the report made public by the Fata Reforms Committee, the draconian code of the Frontier Crimes Regulations is intended to be replaced by the Riwaj Act. According to this Act, there will be a tribunal of judges or jirga elected by local people for resolving disputes; and the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Peshawar High Court will also extend to the area.
The move is laudable, but it must be kept in mind that, given the conservative nature of Pashto society, this act will be misused in many cases and there will be a great possibility of violation of basic human rights.
Although the report holds that any decree violating human rights will be considered null and void, it bids fair that the Riwaj Act will legitimise many detestable crimes, particularly related to women such as ‘swara’, and honour killings. Therefore, all those cases in which there is any possibility of violation of basic human rights should be clearly mentioned, and they must be made subject to the Pakistan Penal Code instead of being resolved by local elders (Malik, Khan, Mushiraan and others).
After shaking off the tyranny of the FCR, the people of tribal areas must be able to take a sigh of relief and the reforms must bring moderation.
Published in Dawn September 7th, 2016