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A Brief Overview of What the KP – FATA Merger Means

A Brief Overview of What the KP – FATA Merger Means

Saniya Rashid
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The National Assembly passed a bill today to pave the way for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to be merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). This is a feat for Pakistan Tehreek -i- Insaf, who have been pushing for the move for a while now. This notion is also an integral part of their 100 Days Agenda, which they revealed last week. While the passing of the bill is being celebrated all over, not many know the exact reasons for this. Nor do they know the potential pros and cons of the merger. So here is a quick summary of what this potentially means.

Being an important subcultural component of Pakistan, FATA is integral to national cohesion.

This is a major fact under consideration when passing the bill. The people of FATA are living under intense conditions, with the frontier areas being most vulnerable to terrorism and following clean up operations. Case in point being North Waziristan and Operation Zarb-e-Azb. The frontier regions are also governed on a special set of laws called the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR). Furthermore, under Article 247, people of FATA  cannot approach the Supreme Court or register a case against any political agent. The merger will bring FATA under the jurisdiction of the KP government. This means that FATA residents will be able to appeal to the same laws of justice as any other Pakistani citizen. An increase in political representation can also be expected from the merger.

The FATA-KP merger is also important for security reasons.

Should FATA merge with KP affirmatively, the provision of security will be the direct responsibility of the provincial government. This might create greater accountability for security apparatuses to administer justice with fewer biases in place.

The merger might also be a great boost to economic growth and potential tourism.

Investing in tourism development is part of Imran Khan’s 11 Point Manifesto, which he unveiled earlier this month. If the KP government comes under PTI again this year, it may be expected that some efforts will be underway to tap into the natural beauty that FATA possesses.

FATA’s people, however, are ethnically and linguistically diverse, and this merger must not infringe upon their individual identities.

It is no hidden fact that the locals or to put it crudely, the natives of a place are often subsumed into the greater nationalistic narrative. And while having a greater national identity might be good for national unity, a suppression of individual identities is nothing but counterproductive to cohesion. These areas and the people are already marginalized. Great care will have to be given to the local atmosphere and the microcosmic cultures within when dealing with the people there.

The overwhelmingly Punjabi dominated politics must not take over FATA.

*Feature Image Source: Herald*

 

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