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PPP wants LG system introduced in Fata

PPP wants LG system introduced in Fata

ISLAMABAD: The PPP has decided to work with mainstream political parties and pressure the government into introducing the local government system and extending jurisdiction of the Supreme Court (SC) and high courts to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) for providing area people ownership and fundamental rights.

PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari revealed this during a meeting with a 40-member delegation of Bajaur Political Alliance (BPA) at Zardari House on Friday.

He assured the BPA, which is a representative body of all political parties of Fata, that he would take up the issue at all forums.

The former president will write to the prime minister to implement its manifesto wherein the PML-N had, like all other parties, promised ownership rights to the people of Fata. All parties should support a proposed amendment in the parliament, PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar told Dawn.

Mr Zardari was quoted as saying: “Local governments are being set up this year throughout the country, including in more than 40 cantonments, and there is no reason why people of tribal areas should remain deprived of their right to self-governance.”

The former president will also ask Nawaz Sharif to amend sub section (7) of Article 247 through parliament.

Under sub section (7) of Article 247, Fata does not come under the purview of the SC and high courts. The proposed amendment was meant to repeal sub section (7).

The Senate committee on law and justice had already approved a Constitutional Amendment Bill seeking amendment to Article 247 of the Constitution to extend the jurisdiction of the SC to tribal areas, besides unanimously adopting a resolution by the Senate on the same subject.

“As a first step, the PPP co-chairman will take up with the prime minister and other political parties, the Senate initiative and seek to develop consensus on extending jurisdiction of superior courts to tribal areas to protect fundamental rights of people,” the spokesman said.

He said Mr Zardari will tell Mr Sharif that the government alone could not make proposed amendment in parliament unless it had the support of other parliamentary parties.

“Mr Zardari will suggest Mr Nawaz to convene a meeting of all political parties for discussion of key national issues, including Fata reforms,” Mr Babar said.

Mr Zardari had held a meeting of all political parties on Wednesday, suggesting the government to allay concerns of political parties on mega development projects and other important issues like judicial reforms, NFC award, Council of Common Interests and Karachi operation.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar assured the meeting that Prime Minister Sharif would soon convene a meeting of all political parties and take them into confidence over the government’s stance on important matters.

Mr Zardari told the delegation that the PPP would seek help from other parties in order to launch a massive campaign for setting up local governments in tribal areas.

He said: “The door for reforms has been opened for the first time in a century by making changes in the Frontier Crimes Regulation, lifting ban on political activities in Fata and introducing judicial reforms by setting up Fata tribunals.” He also called for an early return of the internally-displaced persons to their homes.

He said the PPP initiative was opposed by some people under various pretexts. However, the party believes political reforms help strengthen security.

The multi-party Bajaur Political Alliance, led by its President Rahat Yousuf of PML-N, included former MNA Haroon Rashid of JI, Syed Badshah of PML-Q, Malik Ataullah of ANP, Guldad Khan of PTI and former MNA Akhunzada Chattan of PPP, besides presidents and general secretaries of the chapters of PPP in various tribal agencies.

Later Mr Zardari left for Karachi.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2015

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