Bill extending SC, PHC’s jurisdiction to FATA sent to President for approval

Islamabad Politics Report / Moazzam Raza Tabassam: Chairman senate has sent Extension Jurisdiction to Federally Administered Tribal Areas [FATA] ) Bill, 2018 to President Mamnoon Hussain for approval as law. The Senate on Friday passed the bill extending jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and  the Peshawar High court to Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

The FATA reforms, which include its merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as the extension of court jurisdiction, are a part of one of the points listed in the National Action Plan (NAP) for countering terrorism in the country.

The federal cabinet had approved the extension of the SC and Islamabad High Court (IHC) to FATA in September last year, but the NA Standing Committee on Law and Justice later changed it to PHC from IHC as MNAs from FATA said it would be extremely cumbersome for residents of FATA to travel to the federal capital for justice.

The rulling party alais ,Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party boycotted the bill and lawmakers from bothe the parties staged walkout from senate.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) passed the bill in the absence of both the protesting parties.

Earlier, Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani headed the session comprising the entire house as a committee where Minister for States and Frontier Regions Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch gave a briefing on FATA reforms to the senators.

The Supreme Court and High Court (Extension Jurisdiction to Federally Administered Tribal Areas [FATA] ) Bill, 2018, which had already been passed in the Lower House of parliament was moved in Senate by Federal Law Minister Mahmood Bashir Virk.

Virk said the bill was drafted after getting consensus from all the leaders and other stakeholders.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch said, “All rulers, including me, are indebted to the people of FATA. No efforts were made in the past to give full rights to the people of the tribal areas.”

He assured the House that the government was serious in its commitment to ensure the merger of FATA with KP. He also criticised the current legal system in place — the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) — according to which jirgas accord punishments in civil and criminal cases on the basis of their own traditions and beliefs while the state assumes a limited role.

Addressing the House, Jamaat-e-Islami Senator Sirajul Haq said that the people of FATA were given the right to vote in 2009.

“People of FATA don’t even know about their rights,” he added.

The bill was, however, opposed by the government’s allies —Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) — who walked out of the session in protest.

“The decision to approve the bill is against the people of FATA,” JUI-F Senator Maulana Attaur Rehman said. “The parliament is losing its dignity,” he complained.

He further said that the bill being supported by both the government and opposition raises questions about it being brought on “someone else’s” behest.

Later, the Pakistan People’s Party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz managed to pass the bill.

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