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Local govt system for Fata in the offing

July 21, 2012

ISLAMABAD, July 21: The government is set to introduce a local government system in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas this year and has circulated copies of the draft law among the Fata legislators.

According to sources, the ruling coalition has asked the Fata legislators to give their recommendations and comments as early as possible on the draft ‘Fata Local Government Regulations, 2012’ because it wants President Asif Ali Zardari to promulgate it as an ordinance on the Independence Day.

“Last night I received a copy from then Fata Secretariat of the draft suggesting setting up of local governments in the tribal areas,” MNA Akhunzada Chitan from Bajaur Agency said on Saturday.

Mr Chitan, who joined hands with the PPP after securing the assembly seat as an independent candidate, said that so far he had not gone through the draft but claimed that it had been prepared after consultations with all the stakeholders.

He said there was a consensus amongst all political and religious organisations and tribal elders that there should be a local government system in Fata on the pattern of the provinces. He said people in Fata wanted to choose their local representatives through elections.

The draft law envisions setting up of municipal bodies in tribal areas, to be known as local councils, headed by chairmen and deputy chairmen – like the Nazim-based system introduced by military dictator Pervez Musharraf.

The draft defines the local area as a ‘town’ and the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will have the authority to delimit the boundaries of wards and towns.

The local councils will have reserved seats for women and minorities.

The functions of the councils include sanitation, public health, water supply, drainage, building control, streets, traffic vehicles, sports and culture.

However, sources in the PPP told Dawn that some Fata legislators had expressed reservations over some clauses of the draft during the consultations. Most of them, the sources said, were unhappy over what they termed extraordinary powers given to the governor under the law.

Mr Chitan said the draft had been prepared after hectic efforts by two committees headed by Law Minister Farooq H. Naek and former chief justice Ajmal Mian.

He expressed the hope that the law would soon be enforced in Fata with consensus of the region’s legislators.