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Courts’ extension to Fata hailed

January 13, 2018


PESHAWAR: The people from different walks of life from Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Friday welcomed the passage of a bill by the National Assembly to extend the jurisdictions of the Supreme Court and Peshawar High Court to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and said the legislation would help ensure dispensation of justice to the local residents.

Addressing a news conference in Peshawar, JI provincial chief Mushtaq Ahmad Khan said the passage of the Supreme Court and High Court (Extension of Jurisdiction to Fata) Bill 2017 by the Lower House of Parliament was his party’s victory.

He said his party’s member, Sahibzada Tariqullah, would soon table a bill in the National Assembly for the merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“The bill’s passage is a victory of democratic forces and those who struggled for the fundamental rights of the people of tribal areas. We (Jmaat) will celebrate Saturday as the ‘Day of Victory’ in KP and Fata by holding rallies and distributing halwa and sweet dishes to the people,” he said.

The JI leader said his party would continue with its struggle to protect fundamental rights of tribal people.

He said the party had postponed the Islamabad sit-in for Fata reforms after the passage of the bill.

“We will hold the sit-in in the federal capital if the government fails to announce huge financial package for the tribal region,” he said.

The JI leader demanded of the federal government to declare the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) null and void and announce the merger of Fata with KP immediately.

He said Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman deserved appreciation for ‘silently’ supporting the bill in the assembly and thanked the federal government for introducing the bill.

Mr Mushtaq said after the extension of the superior courts’ jurisdiction to Fata, the party would make a struggle for the merger of tribal areas with KP, grant of representation in KP Assembly to the people of Fata through general elections, and provision of due share in the National Finance Commission Award to Fata.

He said the JI would soon convene a jirga to decide the future line of action on the matter.

Our Correspondent adds from Landi Kotal: The people of Khyber Agency welcomed legislation on the extension of superior courts to Fata and said and it would provide the oppressed people of Fata with justice.

Human rights activist Khyber Khan said the bill’s passage was a ‘new independence’ for tribals.

He said though the country got independence from the British Raj in 1947, the people of Fata continued to live under the inhuman, oppressive and criminal regulations formulated by the colonial rulers for own convenience.

Journalist from Jamrud Zahir Shah Afridi said the tribesmen had always demanded the right of access to superior courts for justice and the passage a bill for it by the National Assembly fulfilled that demand.

Landi Kotal Schoolteacher Hazaabullah said the current jirga system working under the Frontier Crimes Regulation had failed to resolve both civil and criminal cases due to complicated and lengthy procedures.

Transporter Shakir Afridi said under the current system of governance, the political administration had unbridled powers both judicial and executive, which hampered the dispensation of justice to the people.

Bara schoolteacher Gulab Din said the extension of courts to Fata promised the people’s access to basic human and constitutional rights.

Our Correspondent from Khar adds: The people of Bajaur Agency also hailed the passage of a bill by the National Assembly to extend the courts’ jurisdictions to tribal areas and declared it the beginning of a new era for tribesmen.

PML-N MNA from Bajaur Agency Shahabuddin Khan said the extension of superior courts’ jurisdiction to Fata was in line with the longstanding demand of tribesmen, who had been living with basic rights since the Independence.

He said the legislation would not only help ensure provision of basic rights to over six million tribesmen but also decrease the ‘unlimited powers’ held by political agents in tribal areas.

Mansur Khan Mehsud of the Islamabad-based Fata Research Centre said the bill’s passage was a move towards the complete extension of the country’s regular laws to tribal areas and that the day was not far away when tribesmen would get rid of the century old colonial governance system.

JI leader Qari Abdul Majeed said the legislation would ensure provision of basic rights to the people of tribal areas.

Social right activist Ayub Khan welcomed the move, saying it would not only ensure speedy justice but also improve the socioeconomic conditions of tribal areas.

PTI leader Nawabzada Jalaluddin Khan said the legislation was the result of the joint efforts of tribesmen and that it would help ease their troubles.

Meanwhile, Awami National Party central general secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain welcomed the extension of the courts’ jurisdiction to Fata and said it was a first step towards the merger of tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“The federal government should not delay the execution of the Fata-KP merger plan,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2018