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The Roundtable was held at Institute of Policy Studies on Oct 06, 2016 and was chaired by Mr.

Khalid Rahman
(Director General, IPS). The following participants took part in the discussion. Mr. Afrasiab Khattak (Ex. Senator
and leader of ANP), Dr. Ashraf Ali (Consultant, Ministry of States and Frontier Regions, GoP), Amb. (r) Ayaz
Wazir (Former Envoy of Pakistan), Ms. Bushra Gohar (Ex. MNA and leader of ANP), Prof. Dr. Fakhr ul Islam
(Director Pakistan Study Center, UoP), Col. (r) Habibullah Khattak (Defense Analyst), Mr. Hassan Khan (Senior
Journalist and Anchor at Khyber TV), Mr. Ijaz Mohmand Advocate (President FATA Lawyers Forum), Mr.
Inayatullah Khan (Senior Minister, Government of KP), Mr. Karam Elahi (Additional Director, FBR), Mr. Mullah
Khail (Editor, Daily Islam), Sahibzada Haroon ur Rasheed (Ex. MNA and President JI FATA), Dr. Sadia Suleman
(Assistant Professor, QAU), Brig. (r) Said Nazir Mohmand (Defense Analyst and Senior Associate, IPS), Mr.
Shahryar Afridi (MNA and leader of PTI) and Senator Sajjad Hussain Turi (Member Senate of Pakistan from
FATA).

R
eport of the FATA Reforms Committee merging FATA with KP. The committee has
comprises 43 recommendations under six suggested a five years term for implementation of
different headings. Although in principle this recommendation, while suggesting ten years
each and every subject and proposal is important
in its own right, the most important issue is the
Only two have been focused in the
constitutional status of Federally Administered
discourse so far: first, merger of FATA
Tribal Areas (FATA).
with KP, and second making FATA into
The Committee has vide Para 32 of its summary a separate province.
report mentioned four possible constitutional
options regarding the status of FATA: first, period for social and economic development.
maintaining the existing status with certain
legislative and administrative reforms; second, An analysis of the debates that took place at
the establishment of FATA Council on the pattern different academic circles and among the masses
of Gilgit Baltistan; third, carving out a separate on the whole, following publication of the
province; and fourth, merger with Khyber Committees report, reveals of the four options,
Pakhtunkhwa (KP). After examining these only two have been focused in the discourse so
options, the Committee has opined in favor of far: first, merger of FATA with KP, and second

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making FATA into a separate province. province after the merger of FATA and
Discussion of the participants of the Round- KP.
Table Conference organized by the Institute of In the past, a number of the departments
Policy Studies (IPS) Islamabad also remained of KP Government have performed
focused on these two issues. The points that various matters related to FATA. As such,
follow elaborate the debate in question. there has been an Additional Chief
Secretary (ACS) dealing with FATA and
The following arguments were advanced in
since 2002 the FATA Secretariat is
support of merger of FATA with KP:
working under the same ACS in
The different agencies constituting FATA Provincial Secretariat. Moreover, a huge
are naturally connected to KP. From number of officers posted in FATA for
communication infrastructure to socio- performance of official duties hail from
economic interaction, each tribal agency KP. Prior to 2002 also, roughly 60 to 70%
is directly linked to the adjacent area of of the matters of FATA were being
KP. On the other hand, the various handled from KP. From political point of
agencies of FATA are not mutually view, under the One-Unit system when
connected in a way that administratively West Pakistan had one Assembly,
justifies their existence as a separate representative of FATA were part of that
province. Assembly.
From linguistic and ethnic perspective as Most of the political parties, elected
well as socio-cultural norms and values, parliamentarians of FATA, and majority
the people of KP and FATA share the of the people consulted by the Committee,
same background. A significant symbol of supported the proposal of FATA merger
this ground reality is the fact that a large
segment of FATA populace dwell in KP. Peshawar holds that unique central
For instance, a large number of Mohmand position to serve as the capital of the
tribesmen are settled in Peshawar and province after the merger of FATA
Charsadda. Similarly, a major part of the and KP.
population of Kohat (chiefly Afridi,
Mohmand, Shinwari, Aurakzai) has
with KP. Tribal elders who attended
historically come from tribal belt to settle
different All Parties Round Table
in Kohat. The population of KP itself is
Conferences on the issue had consensus
mostly tribal in background, having
on supporting the merger of KP and
settled here after their migration from
FATA. In fact, one of the reasons for this
areas now constituting FATA.
overwhelming consensus is that this
The capital of any province needs to be
option is the easiest and practicable.
centrally located for easy access of all
The question of Afghanistan objecting to
constituent parts of the province.
the merger of FATA and KP does not
Peshawar holds that unique central
arise because Durand Line is not just
position to serve as the capital of the

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about FATA but covers a distance of get its rightful share in the much needed
around 2500 km stretching from Zhob in financial resources. In that case, FATA
Baluchistan to Chatral in KP and these shall remain condemned to its existing
areas are the same general administration backwardness. A case in point is that of
of Pakistan as would be FATA after its FATA Secretariat where a vast majority
merger with KP. of the officers and staff does not belong to
FATA.
On the other hand, a few voices opposed the
The system of governance in KP, reflected
option of FATAs merger with KP on the
in its Thana culture in particular, does
following grounds:
not offer to the people of FATA any
The real need of the hour is empowerment model worth emulating. The wisdom of
of the people of FATA by taking effective entrusting FATA to such a flawed system
steps for the education, health and other remains highly questionable.
socio-economic problems of the people. If However, a few dissenting voices, majority of
the people of FATA are themselves in the the participants of Round Table Conference
driving seat for this empowerment project, strongly favored merger of FATA with KP.
it will give better results. FATA will also After debate on the objections to this option,
have higher representation in Senate in the following points became clear:
case of becoming a separate province.
FATA is rich in reserves of natural A large majority of the ordinary
resources, and in the event of a separate people of FATA, its intellectuals
and its leadership wants the status
quo to change. Given the fact that
In fact, one of the reasons for this
about 16 such reports previously
overwhelming consensus is that this
submitted to the government were
option is the easiest and practicable.
consigned to oblivion, the
apprehension and question is quite
province, finding revenue resources for common whether the fate of the
FATA will not be a big problem. In fact, instant report will be any different?
if these natural resource deposits are fully It is therefore imperative to target
exploited, they can provide robust alleviation of such misgivings,
resources to the national exchequer. There mistrust and questions about
is no scientific basis of the claim that governance in FATA. This would
majority of the people of FATA favor require that the process of proposed
merger with KP. If democracy is accepted changes is expedited, as timely
as the decisive principle, then the decision delivery will be decisive factor in
about the future of FATA be made on the determining the fate of the promised
basis of adult franchise. changes in the status of FATA.
The apprehension is that in case of Constitutional amendment is done
FATAs merger with KP, FATA will not through a prescribed procedure

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which need not be delayed. The envisaged by the Committee
constitution empowers the President because such a long transition
to change the status of FATA but period risks the loss of a golden
with the condition to ascertain it in opportunity for changing the fortune
such manner as he considers of FATA. 2018 should be a key
appropriate the views of the people milestone in the proposed transition
of the Tribal Areas concerned as process. From purely political point
represented in the tribal Jirga. But of view, it is high time for the
what manner is to be adopted federal and provincial governments
under the prevailing circumstances to win public appreciation as pro-
is the key question, and the sooner it people by implementing the
is answered, the better it would be. transition plan of FATA in true
Maintaining the present status is not spirit.
acceptable to anyone except a few Recent internal displacement has
vested interests. These vested made the dwellers of FATA
interests are beneficiaries of the experience a new dimension of life.
status quo (which is plagued by This has kindled a natural urge in
black economy, misuse of authority them to improve their lives and
and resources, illegal cross border move forward. This is the right time
movement of goods, lack of
accountability, security related
It is likely that the people of
internal and external actors) and
both KP and FATA will be
would like to divide people about
affected by the merger of FATA
the constitutional status of FATA
and KP but it is a decision of
and stop progress on this issue even
national importance which will
in future. It is therefore imperative
in fact affect the whole country.
for all stakeholders to expedite, on
the basis of suitable homework, the
current pace of progress towards to provide them with such a system
determining the future status of that enables them to play their role
FATA. An important issue to in achieving their individual,
address for the future of FATA is regional and national interests by
effective border management. utilizing their best talents.
Participants felt that the five year While implementing decisions with
transition plan demands a dedicated regard to the proposed transition,
implementation body with care must be taken to eschew
representatives from FATA, KP and eruption of new doubts in the minds
the federation. The process of of the people of FATA and KP, and
transition should be completed to address the prevailing
earlier than the 5 and 10 years span apprehensions and misgivings. In
this regard, it was suggested that
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sufficient representation should be the merger process. Moreover, a
given to FATA in the provincial high level committee at the KP level
assembly of KP, and a sizable may be constituted to carry out
portion of the development budget home work on when and what
specific measures should be
undertaken in the best interest of the
From purely political point of
people of concerned areas.
view, it is high time for the federal
This apprehension that there might
and provincial governments to
erupt certain disputes over
win public appreciation as pro-
Shamilaat is not ill-founded but
people by implementing the
these will be primarily individual
transition plan of FATA in true
disputes which will be dealt at
spirit.
individual and family level.
Although the problem of census is
may be reserved for FATA so that related to the entire country, its
the areas now forming part of importance is manifold in the
FATA are brought at par with the context of FATAs merger with KP.
rest of the country in socio- Holding census at the earliest is
economic development. It was also imperative for ensuring
emphasized to devise a crash transparency and making correct
development agenda for FATA, and facts based planning in addition
including linking FATA with China to forestalling negative propaganda
Pakistan Economic Corridor and misunderstandings.
(CPEC) to benefit the area and its
people from the potential economic Like any other constitutional and legal
prosperity that is envisaged in the issue, FATAs merger with KP also
post CPEC scenario. entails some substantive and some
Participants emphasized that an procedural issues. It is imperative not to
oversight body also needs to be in confuse the two while handling the
place, with ample representation
from FATA and other stakeholders, An important issue to address
barring the current political for the future of FATA is
administration in FATA. effective border management.
The areas adjacent to FATA and the
people living there need special
merger of FATA with KP. Based on a
attention because they are likely to
history of negative experiences, the
be directly affected by the decision
people of FATA have many doubts in
of merger of FATA with KP, and it
their minds with regard to the future of
is necessary to take notice of any
FATA. It is important to remain
misunderstandings and debates with
cognizant of these doubts and concerns.
potential negative implications for
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It is likely that the people of both KP abundantly clear, however, is that status
and FATA will be affected by the quo is no solution at all. The ongoing
merger of FATA and KP but it is a debate on the status of FATA has
decision of national importance which generated a momentum for change
will in fact affect the whole country. which must be maintained and
That is why instead of a local or capitalized for promptly making
provincial approach, national outlook progress on determining the future
should be adopted in decision-making status of FATA.
and implementation. What appears

Prepared by an IPS Task Force | For queries: Mairaj-ul-Hamid, Asst. Research Coordinator, mairaj@ips.net.pk | www.ips.org.pk

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