PESHAWAR: The participants of a conference, sponsored by JUI-F, here on Sunday opposed merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and demanded separate province for tribal people.
“This conference rejects proposed merger of Fata with KP. The tribal belt should be declared a separate province,” said a declaration issued during the concluding session of the event that was largely attended by workers of JUI-F and students of seminaries.
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Senate Deputy Chairman Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Federal Minister Akram Khan Durrani, a group of parliamentarians from Fata and elders attended the ‘Tribal Peace Conference’.
Addressing the conference, Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that Fata Reforms Committee violated its mandate by recommending merger of tribal area with KP. He said that the committee was tasked to propose reforms for political mainstreaming of Fata, not to suggest its merger with the province.
The JUI-F chief said that only four parliamentarians of Fata were supporting the proposed merger plan. He said that referendum was a suitable option to ask tribal people whether they were in favour of merger with KP or want separate province for themselves. He said that he had held meeting with the members of the reforms committee in Islamabad on Saturday and discussed the issue with them.
Conference seeks rehabilitation of IDPs, reconstruction in conflict-hit areas
“Members of the committee could not convince me,” said Mr Rehman. He added that only tribal people had the right to make decision about their future. He vowed that JUI-F would oppose one-sided decisions regarding future of Fata.
The JUI-F said that a false impression was created that his party was against the abolition of Frontier Crimes Regulation.
Insiders said that Mr Rehman had held meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif before the meeting of federal cabinet on Thursday last and discussed the ‘controversial reform package’ with him. Like JUI-F, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, another ally of PML-N in the provincial government of Balochistan, has also serious reservations over the committee’s report.
On the other hand, majority of the mainstream political party including the ruling PML-N, PPP, PTI and JI are demanding immediate merger of Fata with KP.
It is worth mentioning that the six-member committee headed by Adviser to Prime Minister Sartaj Aziz had recommended merger of Fata with KP in its report.
Addressing on the occasion, Akram Khan Durrani, who belongs to JUI-F, said that he opposed report of the committee in the cabinet meeting. He said that reservations of JUI-F were discussed and prime minister directed the committee to revisit its report.
“Prime Minister Nawaz directed to give weight to what Maulana Sahib says,” said Mr Durrani. He added that after the cabinet meeting, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and members of the committee held discussion on various aspects of the report. He said that his party was not against reforms, but the government should seek opinion of tribal people before making decision about the future of Fata.
MNA Dr Ghazi Gulab Jamal from Orakzai Agency termed the report of the committee one-sided and demanded of the government to complete rehabilitation and reconstruction of militancy-affected people in Fata before introducing administrative and political reforms in the region.
“Parliamentarians from Fata had demanded reforms, reconstruction and rehabilitation, but the committee created controversy by suggesting merger of tribal areas with KP,” said Mr Jamal. He claimed that majority of the parliamentarians from tribal areas were against the report of the committee. He said that both houses of the parliament did not pass the report.
The joint declaration demanded rehabilitation of IDPs and immediate completion of reconstruction work in the conflict-hit areas. It demanded of the government to increase house compensation from Rs400,000 to Rs1,000,000.
The conference also asked for abolition of unnecessary checkposts in Fata and condemned forceful occupation of lands of Kokikhel tribe.
Published in Dawn December 19th, 2016