ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that delay in extending the jurisdiction of the superior judiciary to the tribal areas amounted to denying its people their fundamental rights, adding that any further delay is criminal and not acceptable.
He was talking to a group of women activists of the party from different tribal agencies who called on him in Zardari House in Islamabad on Sunday.
The eight-member delegation led by FATA women organisation of the party president Dr Saima, and comprised of office bearers from almost all tribal agencies. PPP FATA President Akhunzada Chattan was also present.
Bilawal said that the bill recently passed by the National Assembly and sent to the Senate contained some serious anomalies which needed to be rectified in the upper house.
The jurisdiction of Peshawar High Court (PHC) and the Supreme Court (SC) be extended to tribal areas in one go and not in piecemeal and without requiring any notification by the bureaucracy, he said.
He said that initially the superior courts also did not have jurisdiction over the provincially administered tribal areas (PATA) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, in 1973 this jurisdiction was extended through an act of the parliament immediately, without requiring any government notification.
The people of tribal areas have waited for 70 long years to get access to justice and fundamental rights and must not be kept deprived any longer on various pretexts, he said.
He rejected the objections of some political parties against extending the jurisdiction of superior courts. Article 175 (2) and 247 (7) both provided that legislation could be made by parliament for extending the jurisdiction of superior courts to a tribal area, he added.
Bilawal further said that the PPP had extended the political parties order to FATA opening doors for all political parties to engage its people in alternate political narratives. The party had also opened the door for reforms in the draconian Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) and it was now time to undo the FCR and extend normal laws of Pakistan to the tribal areas.
If coercive laws were extended to tribal areas through a presidential regulation, why can’t progressive laws also be extended to these areas to protect the fundamental rights of its people, he asked.
Chairman Bilawal advised the tribal women delegation to reach out to the women in their respective tribal agencies and present party’s narrative on various political and social issues.
Besides Dr Saima, the delegation comprised of Chand Bibi, Humera Jan, Musarrat, Marina, Alina Shah and Jamaima.