Khyber jirga observes black day against Fata merger

Published June 1, 2021
This 2017 photo shows people of Fata, members of political parties gather at D Chowk to demand early merger of tribal areas with KP. ─ Shakeel Qarar/File
This 2017 photo shows people of Fata, members of political parties gather at D Chowk to demand early merger of tribal areas with KP. ─ Shakeel Qarar/File

KHYBER: The Khyber Qaumi Jirga (KQJ), an anti-merger body, observed black day by holding a protest demonstration at the historic Bab-i-Khyber on Monday against the integration of erstwhile Fata into the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The protest was staged on the completion of three years of the merger.

Scores of KQJ supporters, mostly tribal elders and a handful of political workers, held black flags in their hands and chanted slogans against what they called ‘unnatural’ and ‘unconstitutional’ merger of tribal regions with KP.

Addressing the protesters, KQJ leader Haji Bismillah Afridi declared that the so-called merger was imposed on the tribal people without ascertaining their consent and without fulfilling the constitutional obligation of convening a representative grand jirga of all the tribal elders from the seven tribal regions.

He said the KQJ and its supporters would not accept the merger as it was done in violation of the promises made by Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah with the people of former Fata regarding the future status of their region.

He said the merger had further complicated the situation in tribal areas as there was chaos everywhere due to ambiguity about the powers and limitations of different government departments.

“How can we accept the 25th Constitutional Amendment when the parliament, the head of the state or the head of the government are not authorised to change the geographic and administrative status of tribal areas as enshrined in the 1973 Constitution,” he asserted.

The KQJ demanded immediate repeal of the 25th Constitutional Amendment, revival of the jirga system and reforms in the Frontier Crimes Regulation.

The road leading to Torkham border and the Jamrud Bazaar remained closed for an hour during the demonstration.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2021

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