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ISLAMABAD: Legisla­tors from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) started their campaign for implementation of Fata reforms on Thursday by staging a token sit-in outside the Parliament House.

This was the first event of the campaign which will see tribal people staging a sit-in at the same place on Oct 9.

A number of legislators from different political parties — including the Pakis­tan Peoples Party, Mutta­hida Qaumi Movement and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf — visited the protesting legislators to express solidarity with them.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, during his visit to the Fata lawmakers, extended his party’s support for the Oct 9 sit-in. He said that the PPP supported merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

On Wednesday Shah Jee Gul Afridi, an MNA from tribal areas, told media persons that if Fata reforms were not implemented, a large number of people from the region would pour in Islamabad on Oct 9. “In case of bloodshed,” he warned, “the government will be responsible.”

He said that since Fata reforms had been approved by the federal cabinet, they should be implemented without any further delay.

“It is unfortunate that 200 million people have been suffering (only) because of opposition to reforms by Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Fazlur Rehman, who insists that reforms should not be implemented before 2018 general elections.”

As part of the first phase of the implementation of the reforms, the controversial Frontier Crimes Regulation would be abolished besides appointment of a chief operating officer to oversee development activities in the area.

In March, the federal cabinet under former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had approved a set of measures to be taken for the proposed merger of Fata with KP, and a 10-year reforms package to bring the tribal region on a par with developing areas of the country.

Later in May, the government convened a special session of the National Assembly for presentation of three bills, including a constitutional amendment bill drafted in the light of the recommendations of the Fata reforms committee.

Minister for States and Frontier Regions retired Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch tabled the amendment bill required for declaring Fata a part of KP and the Tribal Areas Rewaj Bill, but he did not move the bill seeking extension of the jurisdiction of the Peshawar High Court and the Supreme Court to Fata, without any explanation.

Later, the reforms hit a snag when Nawaz Sharif directed the government to hold back the legislation due to opposition by Fazlur Rehman and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2017