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Peshawar: The FATA Declaration was unanimously approved by more than 300 members of FATA Reforms Councils from all tribal agencies and frontier regions at the FATA Grand Assembly on June 22, 2013 in Peshawar.
The FATA Declaration represents the culmination of a lengthy dialogue and consensus-building process spanning five years of consecutive local reform council meetings and advocacy workshops regarding challenges in the implementation of already enacted political reforms in FATA and on recommendations for further reforms. The Shaheed Bhutto Foundation (SBF) first launched its campaign in 2008 to amplify the voices of FATA citizens and bring about political reforms in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
As Pakistan enters a new era of democracy, it is pertinent that the benefits of such a change accrue to the people of FATA. The recent elections are a testament of the will of the people of FATA to establish a truly democratic system that will uphold their basic civil rights – legal, political and social.
As the reforms agenda seems to have lost urgency amidst other priorities, FATA elders, representatives of political parties, ulemas, lawyers, journalists, students and women from the tribal areas gathered so that their collective voices may be heard at the highest political echelons.
The consensus FATA Declaration highlights urgent reforms priorities, including effective implementation of the 2011 reforms enacted by the President of Pakistan. The declaration contains 19 recommendations, encompassing essential changes needed to ensure mainstreaming of FATA and political participation of tribal citizens. The FATA Grand Assembly also asserted that tribesmen and tribeswomen must be guaranteed the same fundamental rights enjoyed by other citizens of Pakistan.
Some of the specific changes proposed in the FATA Declaration are:
1) Constitutional amendment to allow FATA parliamentarians to legislate;
2) FATA Council elected by tribal citizens;
3) Political Administration accountable to an elected local government;
4) Division of executive and judicial powers in FATA;
5) Reserved seats for women of FATA;
6) Frontier Crimes Regulation abolished or substantially amended;
7) Actions in Aid of Civil Power Regulation abolished;
8) Extension of High Court jurisdiction to FATA;
9) Extension of PEMRA jurisdiction to FATA; and
10) Grassroots promotion of education throughout FATA.