Committee recommends four basic options for reforms in FATA, wide consensus on integration of FATA with KP

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ISLAMABAD, Aug 23 (APP): FATA Reforms Committee has
recommended four basic options for reforms but there is a wide consensus on integration of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The committee headed by Advisor to the Prime Minister on
Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz took eight months to deliberate on  the much awaited reforms in FATA and recommended four basic options for reforms.
1. Maintain statuesque but introduce judicial/administrative reforms and increase focus on development activities.
2. Create FATA Council on the pattern of Gilgit Baltistan.
3. Create a separate province of FATA.
4. Integrate FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, each agency becoming a separate District and FRs integrated.
According to the PM House statement issued here Tuesday night, it emerged from the wide ranging consultations undertaken by the committee, that there was a wide consensus on integration of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, however tribal elders except in Kurram, Bajaur and FR Peshawar, wanted to retain the present special status.

It may be noted that political parties, youth, businessmen,
educated classes were clearly in favour of integration of FATA into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and also argued for an extension of the writ of the superior courts.

Secondly, tribesmen at the same time wanted to retain their
identity by recognition of Rewaj and the Jirga system under the new system.

They also advocated a more gradual and phased approach to FATA reforms so that displaced people can return to their homes and smooth transition from post conflict situation to durable peace can be ensured.

Virtually no support for a separate FATA province due to its
geographic location, weak linkages between the agencies and limited financial resources.

Similarly the option of FATA Council, on the lines of the GB
Council, also did not enjoy much support. It was emphasized that even as a transitional measure, it would create new vested interests that could block further reforms and lead to the next logical demand of a separate FATA.

The fourth option, i.e. FATA’s integration with KP was widely
supported as it offered many advantages and is the only rational choice for “mainstreaming” FATA, since the people of FATA will be able to elect their representatives for the Provincial Assembly of KP and expand opportunities for improved governance.

Under the integration option the security infrastructure,
including the strength and quality of Levies and other Law Enforcing Agencies will have to be improved and extended throughout FATA, making it easier for the Armed Forces to withdraw from its security role in FATA, within 4 5 years.

Highest priority, after the restoration of peace should be
assigned to rehabilitation of the tribal people, reconstruction of tribal areas on a war footing and revival of livelihood activities.

The target date for return of TDPs should be end of 2016 the
reconstruction phase should be completed before the end of 2018.

This gigantic task will require much larger financial
resources and coordination between all the Federal Agencies including SAFRON, FATA Secretariat, the Army formations and FWO/NLC. A comprehensive rehabilitation and reconstruction plan has been launched by FATA secretariat which should be synchronized with the above timelines.

Foreign donors can be invited to provide part of financial
resources for the reconstruction plan.

The 10 year development programme should include major
infrastructure and irrigation projects, mineral development programme and integrated plans for health, education including establishment of university, medical and engineering colleges, vocational training and industrial zones with special incentives.

A major aim of this 10 year programme will be to bring FATA at par with the rest of Pakistan on the basis of all major economic and social indicators.

FATA Development Authority (FDA) may be reorganized with
enhanced powers to implement large infrastructure projects under the 10 year Development Plan.

Thirty percent of the allocation in the 10 year Plan should
be channeled through the local bodies.

An important component of the new Development Plan would be the concept of social transformation of FATA through urbanization by setting up modern urban hubs in all Agency Headquarters and other important trading centres.

All posts in FATA should be upgraded at par with KP.
Salaries for the project personnel should be 20% higher than
the project policy of KP.

Special incentives to private sector in education and health
sectors should be given in the form of free land.

State Bank of Pakistan to encourage establishment of more
branches of banks in FATA with special incentives for private banks.

Quota of FATA students in education and health institutions
be doubled and retained for 10 years after integration
Once the rehabilitation phase is completed, party based local
bodies elections can be held in FATA before end of 2017.

This would require promulgation of FATA Local Government Regulation, which should be formulated within three months.
All other formalities e.g. updating the electoral rolls,
finalizing the constituencies, rules and regulations should be completed by the first quarter of 2017.

A separate unit for FATA may be created in the Election
Commission office, Peshawar for this purpose.

The FATA Reforms Committee had visited all tribal agencies and held meetings with the elected representatives of those areas including businessmen, tribal elders (Maliks), educated youth, religious leaders and members of the civil society to ascertain their point of view before finalizing recommendations for the future of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

The Committee also held meetings with the notables of
all Frontier Regions and other stakeholders.

The recommendations will be placed before larger NAP meeting on Wednesday.