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ISLAMABAD: The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F (JUI-F) emir on Friday criticised adoption by the National Assembly of a bill extending jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and Peshawar High Court (PHC) to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), and said the bill was not on the agenda of lower house of parliament.

“Our party was assured by the speaker of the National Assembly during the meeting of its advisory committee, held in the Parliament House before the start of the session, that the Fata bill was not on Friday’s agenda of the lower house,” said Maulana Fazlur Rehman at a press conference held at his residence.

He said that according to the original bill, the jurisdiction of the Islamabad High Court, and not that of PHC, was to be extended to Fata. The extension of PHC’s jurisdiction to Fata would be unconstitutional because under Article 175 of the Constitution the powers of the IHC could be extended to the tribal areas.

Criticises extension of PHC’s jurisdiction to tribal areas

The JUI-F chief said that many people in Fata supported their region’s merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but there were many others who thought that it should be accorded the status of a separate province. That was why a referendum should be held to ascertain the prevalent opinion in the tribal areas.

Maulana Fazl was of the view that extending the jurisdiction of the two courts to Fata would prove to be a futile exercise until a police force was set up and the local administration and courts were fully empowered to handle the affairs of the region.

He said that peace had yet to be restored in some areas of Fata and that many of its people were living in faraway areas. Only after their complete rehabilitation should a decision about their future be taken, with their consent.

The JUI-F emir said his party did not oppose reforms in Fata but had objected to some of the recommendations presented by the high-level committee on Fata.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2018