Cheated Once Again
When a crime is committed in tribal areas, under the FCR, the tribe has to identify the criminal, arrest and produce him before the political administration, charge, try and convict him and hand him over to the political administration so that the political administration can fine him. There is no responsibility on the government in identifying, arresting, trying or in convicting the criminal.
I was a student when I first heard that Bhutto was coming to Miranshah. We were so excited and we chased his cavalcade on bicycles right up to Hamzoni where he was to be feasted. After that day Bhutto became a household name. He sanctioned a cadet college, a degree college, a match factory and a colony for government servants during that visit. The agency had not seen as much development since its creation and life in Miranshah changed for ever.
Among so many things that happened during this time, which need not be repeated, there was a great hype for reforms in FATA. I remember when the Tanzeem elders (Tanzeem Ittehad Qabail) came to our Hujra and stayed for the night. Then I could only recognize late Wali Khan Kukikhel.
Since then there has always been talk of reforms in FATA but for one reason or another it never materializes, the time has never been right.
The President of Pakistan in his speech on August 14 2009 announced amendments in FCR and the extension of Political Parties Act (PPA). To the disappointment of tribal people, the announcements didn’t materialize. The tribesmen were made to understand that the forces that matter, referring to the armed forces, do not want the announcement to be implemented.
After a long wait, at last the announcements made were notified last month amidst great pomp and show. Besides the tribal parliamentarians, many tribal Maliks could be seen in the presidency, paid by their Political Agents to nod all the while, at anything and everything. One could see from the look of it that non of them had seen the amendments in the FCR otherwise they wouldn’t have been nodding.
The extension of Political Parties Act is no doubt a step in the right direction but we have become so cynical that we don’t appreciate even a good effort, fearing it may be withdrawn or the enabling statutes might not be issued and so on. For the extension of PPA full credit goes to the government and the all parties committee headed by Anwar Kamal Khan Marwat, hats off to them.
Opinion on the amendments in the FCR, however, is rather different, very different. The amendments were to be proposed with three things in mind. First and foremost, providing justice to the tribal people, secondly, bring the tribal areas a step closer to mainstream Pakistan and finally do away with all anti development elements in the law and give the private sector a chance to take roots in FATA.
The amendments fail to tackle any of the three areas.
If a crime is committed in the tribal areas, under the FCR, the tribe has to identify the criminal, arrest and produce him before the political administration, accuse and convict the criminal and hand him over to the political administration so that the political administration can fine him. There is no responsibility on the political administration either in identifying, arresting trying or convicting the criminal. If the tribe fails in doing all the above then that is another story, a long, sad story.
Any sane person will be at a loss as to why do we need a government if it is not doing anything to stop crime or criminals. It’s true, why do we need a government, which has no role in arresting trying or convicting a criminal.
While amending the FCR no matter how many corners are cut, how many rough edges are smoothed, if there is no responsibility on the government the amendments are worthless. The days of the Raj are over, the gora sahib has left, at the age of sixty, its time the kala sahib takes some responsibility. There can be no justice without the government taking over its primary responsibility, protection of life and property of the people.
With all the responsibility forced on the tribes, the amendments fail to provide any justice to the common tribesman.
Secondly, to bring the tribal areas a step closer to mainstream Pakistan the best option was to extend the jurisdiction of the superior judiciary to FATA. The superior judiciary could hear appeals under the FCR. This has been disregarded and another tribunal is added to those already existing. The executive and judiciary have not been separated even at the highest level whereas the Political Agent retains and enjoys unrivaled powers to be used to terrorize and skin the tribal people.
Supreme court is an institution which tribesmen could share with the rest of the country bringing them a wee bit closer to mainstream. The amendments fail to do so.
Finally, FCR is an anti development law and the root cause of the poverty of tribal areas. Whereas the government can never provide jobs to the whole population of an area a vibrant private sector supplements the efforts. Since the Political Agent can close, attach and confiscate any private property in the tribal areas under collective responsibility no tribesman will ever invest in the tribal areas.
The amendments do not protect ones hard earned assets from the acquisitive eyes of the political administration, hence failing to encourage development of private sector in tribal areas.
Overall, the amendments in FCR are nothing but an eyewash. They ensure the tribal areas stay in isolation, undeveloped and insecure.
Under Articles 246 and 247 of the constitution the administrative authority for FATA is vested in the President of Pakistan. Extension, repeal and/ or changes in laws for FATA is done by the President and not the parliament, hence the signing ceremony in the President house.
Personally I give full credit to the President because he signed whatever was put up to him. It was the job of the professionals around him who should have given him better advice. There is a full fledge FATA sectt and a governor sectt in Peshawar, which were both fully involved in these amendments. Then there is a wing for FATA in the President Sectt whose job is to scrutinize such documents before submitting them to the President.
The FCR loving bureaucracy has deceived the tribal population once again. Till recently they propagated that the tribesmen don’t want reforms. When that lie was exposed they pointed at the armed forces for not allowing reforms, trying to scare the tribesmen away from asking for reforms. When everything else failed they came up with these amendments, which are nothing but an eyewash.
People should know that appeal and bail existed even prior to these amendments. They should know that there was and still remains no check on the Political Agent. There are very few, less than a score cases tried under FCR all the rest are administrative orders issued without any legal authority. Without independent judiciary there is no check on the Political Agent.
The tribal population has been cheated once again and the blame for these no good amendments, cheating the tribal people, solely lies with the FCR loving bureaucracy at the above three positions. The tribesmen won’t wait for another sixty years, they demand extending the jurisdiction of superior judiciary to FATA forthwith.
By. GQ khan