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President approves plan for Swat cantonment

President approves plan for Swat cantonment

ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain approved on Tuesday a plan to establish a cantonment in Swat as a permanent post for the army in the valley, which was ‘cleared’ of extremists and terrorists by the armed forces about six years ago.

“This will be the first cantonment in any part of Provincially Administered Tribal Area (Pata),” a senior official from the Presidency told Dawn.

According to a local legislator, Pata’s first garrison will be established over 300 kanals in the Titabut area of Swat, which was once a terrorist stronghold.

In order to establish the cantonment, the president approved the implementation of the Cantonment Act, 1924, in Pata.

An official handout issued by the Presidency on Tuesday said: “On a summary initiated by the States and Frontier Regions Division, the president has approved the prime minister’s advice for ‘extension of Cantonment Act, 1924 (II of 1924)’ to Provincially Admi­n­istered Tribal Areas (Pata) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa along with a draft notification, under Article 247 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”

A senior military official told Dawn that the establishment of a cantonment in Swat was announced by the PM when he visited Malakand last year. “The president’s approval for the cantonment area is part of the same plan,” he said.

He said that the cantonment area was being established at the request of Swat residents who wanted a more permanent sense of security after the area was wrested away from Taliban.

Constitutional expert Akram Sheikh explained how various types of laws can be implemented in Pata, and said that Article 247 allows the federal and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to implement any law in Pata and Fata.

Mr Sheikh said that since the country’s laws do not apply to Pata or Fata directly, the enforcement of any federal law requires the president’s approval, and the enforcement of provincial laws requires the KP governor’s consent.

Section 4 of Article 247 states: “Notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution, the president may, with respect to any matter within the legislative competence of Majlis-i-Shoora (parliament), and the governor of a province with the prior approval of the president may, with respect to any matter within the legislative competence of the provincial assembly, make regulations for the peace and good government of a Provincial Administered Tribal Area or any part thereof, situated in the province.”

Another constitutional expert, retired Justice Tariq Mehmood, said that cantonments situated over a small area were used only for military purposes, whereas local bodies polls were held in cantonments that were larger in size, encompassed many localities and housed a sizeable chunk of the area’s population.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2015

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