FATA likely to get Political Parties Act on August 14


President Asif Ali Zardari is likely to announce extension of the Political Parties Act (PPA) of 2002 to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the amended Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) on August 14 under the FATA Reforms Package, an official source in the States and Frontier Regions Ministry told Pakistan Today.
“The president is likely to announce the FATA Reforms Package on August 14 and under this package, promulgation of the extension of PPA 2002 to FATA and the amended form of the FCR or ‘the FCR Reforms’ would be announced,” the official said.
He added that eight new laws were also likely to be part of the package and they were currently being vetted by the Law Ministry.
The extension of the PPA 2002 would allow the political parties to operate in FATA and give the right to the residents of the area to elect their representative through direct adult franchise. The absence of political parties in the tribal regions had been decried for long as it was regarded as denial of the people’s right to have political activities and elect their representatives. The political parties and civil society organisations have been calling for the extension of the PPA to FATA. Similarly, the FCR had also been criticised as a draconian law of the colonial era in which political agents had been granted both judicial and executive powers. President Zardari had announced on August 14 last year major legal and political reforms, including reforms in the FCR “to extricate the FATA people from a century of bondage and subservience”. The reforms were later delayed for unknown reasons. When Presidential Spokesman Farhatullah Babar was approached for comments, he said: “I cannot give the exact date but what I know is that it is on the cards and going to be announced as a FATA Reforms Package very soon.”
He also added that around two months ago, representatives of various political parties had called upon the president to announce the reformed or amended FCR and Political Parties Act of 2002 and the president, taking into account the desire of the political parties and other stakeholders, was likely to announce the package very soon.
The presidential spokesman said certain structural reforms had been brought about in the current FCR whereby judicial and administrative power would be separated and any petitioner would be given the right to appeal against the verdict of the political agent and seek bail. When asked if a petitioner or defendant would be allowed to appeal in the normal court or there would be a different judicial mechanism for FATA, the presidential spokesman said he did not remember the exact details of the FATA Package but was certain of the separation of judicial and executive powers.