JAMRUD – Opposing the proposed merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with the 21st century, a Grand Jirga of elders from Khyber Agency held in Jamrud on Friday urged the government to follow the lunar calendar or announce a separate calendar altogether for the tribal areas.
Ibrahim, a senior tribal elder, said that the merger of FATA with the 21st century was unacceptable to him. “And since it is unacceptable to me and the handful of elders sitting next to me, it is obviously unacceptable to the entire region we speak on behalf of without any consultation,” he said.
He added that the proposed legislative council should keep the jirga’s social, political and traditional affiliation with in mind, before enforcing the calendar used in the rest of the country on them.
Junaid, another tribal elder said the suggested merger was geographically impossible.
“There’s a 116-year distance between FATA and the year 2017. It is both topographically challenging and geographically non-contiguous” he said. “The merger would require allowing the locals to travel all that distance and to do it with ease.”
Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) Chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai agreed with the claim that FATA should remain separated from the 21st century
“I personally follow the Gregorian calendar and I can tell you it’s harmful for the people of FATA,” he said. “Anyone who thinks the tribal locals should follow the same calendar as the rest of Pakistan is their enemy.”
Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) FATA Chief Abdul Shakoor Betani says the proposed merger was conceived in Tel Aviv.
“Both Israel and India want FATA’s merger with 21st century, because (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) and (Indian Prime Minister Narendra) Modi want to keep early 20th century to themselves,” he claimed.