Tribal MPs reject new curbs, seek reforms

PESHAWAR: Parliamentarians from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) have expressed serious reservations about the newly-promulgated Presidential Regulations, ‘Action in Aid of Civil Powers 2011’ for the tribal areas.During a meeting with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Barrister Masood Kausar here on Tuesday, 10 senators and MNAs from the Fata said that President Asif Ali Zardari had signed the regulations in haste. The president had signed the regulations last week in Karachi without holding any consultation with the parliamentarians of the Fata and Pata (Provincially Administered Tribal Areas). MNA Akhunzada Chattan from Bajaur Agency told Dawn that they were unaware of the contents of the new piece of legislation.

“We have no knowledge about what the new regulations contain,” he said, adding that the governor had promised arranging a briefing for the tribal parliamentarians on the matter very soon. Mr Chattan said that they told Mr Kausar that the new regulations would create a sense of deprivation among the tribesmen if it contained harsh sections. He said that the tribal people had been expecting reforms in the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), and not the promulgation of more discriminatory laws.

According to a handout about the meeting, the parliamentarians exchanged views with the governor on the law and order situation, development process and the Aid of Civil Power Regulations, 2011. The parliamentarians expressed their reservations about the said regulations, it confirmed. The statement said that Mr Kausar assured the parliamentarians that the new piece of law was not aimed at the tribesmen rather it had been promulgated to target the mischievous and anti-state elements, who had been causing unrest.

He claimed that the regulation would ensure the protection of basic rights of the tribesmen under the 1973 Constitution by removing the legal lacunae in this regard. The governor said that through this legislation the mischievous elements could be brought to book and punished. “The new regulation is in the best interest of the tribal people,” he maintained. However, he said that there was always room for reconsideration any time and any law could not be regarded final. “If any flaw is found in it that will be removed,” Mr Kausar assured the parliamentarians. MNA from Khyber Agency Noorul Haq Qadri quoted the governor as saying that it was not a new regulation, as it had already been applicable in the rest of the country in the Tribal MPs reject new ‘curbs’, seek reforms shape of West Pakistan Maintenance of Public Ordinance, 1961.

“If the regulations have positive aspects the parliamentarians will support them,” Mr Qadri said and added that the government should take them into confidence before any legislation concerning the Fata. The parliamentarian who attended the meeting included Senators Maulana Saleh Shah, Abdul Raziq, Rashid Ahmad Khan and Abbas Khan and MNAs Maulana Qadri, Maulana Abdul Malik, Munir Orakzai, Kamran Khan, Sajid Hussain, Akhunzada Chattan and Zafar Beg Bhittani. Meanwhile, senior advocate Barrister Baachaa said in a statement on Tuesday that the promulgation of the Presidential Regulations, ‘Action in Aid of Civil Powers 2011’ for Fata and Pata was tantamount to opening branches of the dreadful US Guantanamo Bay prison in Fata, Pata and even in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He said that giving powers to the armed forces to intern civilians for indefinite period during the army operation in the area was countering one kind of terrorism by another kind. Mr Baachaa said that the use of fear-inspiring words in the Regulations-2011, such as, “The Regulations permit incapacitating of the miscreants” and creating on the armed forces an ‘obligation to carry out extensive de-radicalisation program of the detainees’ were enough for the lawyers, human rights activists, civil society and the journalists to come out against them. He said that the Regulations-2011 did not mention any disciplinary action and criminal penalties where excesses were committed by the armed forces. – Dawn