The Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) hosted a roundtable discussion on “Implementation of FATA Reforms: Challenges Ahead “on October 31, 2017.The keynote speaker at the discussion was Mr. Shehzad Arbab, former Secretary SAFRON and a member of the FATA Reform Committee Report.
The idea that the people of FATA should be at the center of the reforms prevailed as a dominant theme of the discussion, in which distinguished scholars and academicians participated. Among others, the participants of the discussion included: Mr. Khalid Aziz, former Chief Secretary KPK; Ambassador (Retd) Abdul Basit, former High Commissioner of Pakistan to India; Ambassador (Retd) Fauzia Nasreen, HoD, Centre for Policy Studies, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology; Ambassador (Retd) Ayaz Wazir; Brig (Retd) Said Nazir, Senior Associate, Institute of Policy Studies; Mr. Naveed Ahmed, founding Chief Executive and President CAMP; Dr. Saima Kiyani, Fatima Jinnah University; Dr. Ashraf Ali, Executive Director, Zcomms Centre for Research and Development; Mr. Abdullah Khan, M.D Pakistan Institute for Peace and Conflict; Mr. Iilam Khan and Rizwan Shinwari, PhD scholars at NUST, and other imminent journalists and scholars.
Welcoming the participants, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman ISSI touched upon the history of FATA under the British colonial rule in the Sub-continent. He stated that at the time of independence, FATA was recognized as part of Pakistan under the constitution, but it has been treated quite differently from the rest of the country. He stressed that there are also some external and internal factors which are affecting the region. All these factors have resulted in bringing instability and chaos in FATA. Many operations have been undertaken by Pakistan military to improve the situation created by these factors, but unfortunately, very little incremental steps were taken to introduce reforms in the region. In November 2015, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif constituted a committee to hold meetings for political mainstreaming of FATA. Some Jirgas were also held with the seven agencies in FATA. Around 3000 tribal Maliks and elders were consulted and after this whole process, a reform package was introduced. This was a major step and it evoked a lot of interest. Overall, this committee got a good response, but there were some dissenting views as well. The reform package proposed the merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) within a transition period of five year. The Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) too was proposed to be scraped, and the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to be extended in this area. Apart from the political aspects, issues of development too have to be assured. In September 2017, the federal government decided to have consensus and all lawmakers from the tribal regions agreed to merger of FATA with KPK. The Chairman stressed that the real test is implementation of the package and this requires more attention.