Protest and be damned…

  • Speedy KP-FATA merger appears inevitable

Last week witnessed hectic activity on the KP-FATA merger ‘front’ with meetings of federal cabinet, the opposition, culminating in the decisive National Security Committee Saturday meeting, which put the civilian-military seal of approval on this long delayed matter of immense national importance. The SAFRON minister contrarily stated last Wednesday that the incoming government would handle the merger question, but as matters stand now, the related constitutional amendment bill is expected to be tabled in the National Assembly on Wednesday. A Bill passed earlier this year in both Houses extended jurisdiction of Peshawar High Court and Supreme Court to FATA, reflecting almost universal support among mainstream parties, and no doubt mirroring the wishes of the vast majority of the region’s inhabitants. Few tribal residents would spurn the socio-economic-political-legal advantages, civic facilities and amenities, and employment opportunities of a well-regulated, settled area. Development funds for a decade have also been allocated for FATA uplift, which cannot be utilised elsewhere, further making it a win-win situation.

But a couple of spanners in the works still remain, in the shape of Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman of the JUI and Mahmud Khan Achakzai of the PkMAP, the first insisting on separate FATA province, on mainstreaming rather than merger, which latter he terms a ‘global conspiracy’ and ‘international agenda’ against FATA people wishes, the second veering off on his own weird tangent with talk of tribal region’s ‘free people’ and Afghanistan’s ‘sensitivity’ which can create ‘trouble’ for Pakistan. Both, however, in differing ways and viewpoints, are actually jealously guarding their vested interests, their political vote banks, which translate into more worldly, vast banking rewards. The Maulana’s recent separation from munificent ally, the PML-N, means little, with hardly two weeks remaining in the Assembly term, and considering his new MMA election platform, but his threats of blocking Pak-Afghan and Indus Highways in protest will only engender needless and ultimately futile confrontation, possibly creating a serious law and order situation in already fraught circumstances, with sensitive court decisions and national elections looming. National interests must prevail over party-personal interests, good sense over dubious goals. Precious time can no longer be wasted on evasive dilatory tactics regarding urgent national issues.