Zardari promises to further improve FATA Bill after elections

Islamabad Politics Report / Moazzam Raza Tabassam: Former President Asif Ali Zardari today said that the Pakistan People’s Party will stand by the people of tribal areas in their struggle for extending jurisdiction of superior courts to tribal areas, merging it with the province of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and allocating share in the NFC Award. All pointers whether economic, linguistic, cultural, geographic contiguity made it natural for the tribal areas to be merged in the province, he said.

He was talking to a delegation of the Tribal Youth Jirga that called on him in the Zardari house in Islamabad today.

The 25 member delegation included representatives of FATA youth from all tribal agencies representing all political parties. TV anchor Salim Safi also accompanied the delegation.

Former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Secretary General PPP Nayyer Bokhari, Spokesperson Aamir Fida Paracha, President PPP FATA chapter Akhunzada Chattan, President Women wing FATA Dr Saima, Political Secretary Rukhsana Bangash, Fouzia Habib and Secretary General PPPP former Senator Farhatullah Babar were also present in the meeting.

Mr. Zardari said that although the Bill to extend the jurisdiction of superior courts to tribal areas passed recently by the National Assembly fell far short of expectations was ‘too little too late’ but the PPP will support in the Senate to seize the opportunity and flung open the door for further improvements.

He said that when the PPP comes into power in this year elections it will move improve upon it and extend the jurisdiction of superior courts to all parts of FATA and with immediate effect.

Reminding that as President he had transferred all powers to the Parliament, he said that for mainstreaming FATA the legislative powers of the President in respect of FATA be also transferred to the Parliament. He said that FATA should also be given share in the NFC Award. The tribal people have been devastated and it was time to put balm on their wounds.

 The former President also demanded immediate demolition of the existing system of levy and collection of taxes, cess, levies and rahdari by the political agents in tribal areas which he said was “arbitrary, illegal and a tool for corruption”.

Poor people are subjected to illegal tax on transportation of every merchandise of daily use in what he said was a lucrative business for some and demanded an end to it. He also called for the audit by auditor General of the public spending by the civil-military bureaucratic complex in FATA.

The former President reminded that Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was the first to petition before the Supreme Court for the voting rights to the people of tribal areas. It was she who first constituted a special committee of the Party on FATA.

He said that for the first time in a century the door to reforms in FCR was opened by the PPP during his presidency. For the first time also all political parties were allowed to operate in tribal areas and present an alternate political view and for this purpose the political parties’ order 2002 was extended to the tribal areas’ he said adding the PPP will continue its efforts to further mainstream tribal areas.

During the meeting Chairman Bilawal Bhutto also called the former President on the phone from Karachi and emphasized taking forward FATA reforms project.

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