Pandemonium mars seminar on Fata reforms held


PESHAWAR: Pandemonium marred a seminar organised here Saturday to discuss the recommendation of the Fata Reforms Committee.In fact, not a single speech could be made at the seminar as the trouble started soon after recitation of the holy Quran and subsequently a shouting match started between the two groups of tribal people having completely different views about the future of Fata.
The Ministry for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) and the Fata Secretariat had organised the seminar at a hotel here on Saturday. The seminar was titled “Fata Reforms – Transforming and Securing Pakistan.”
A documentary made on Fata was to be shown at the seminar, but the event ended before it could be screened. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, who was the chief guest on the occasion, left the venue when the situation turned ugly. The opposing sides of tribals vent their anger against each in presence of the Governor, who along with other officials quietly opted to leave.
Apart from the Governor, Secretary Safron Muhamamd Shehzad Arbab, Additional Chief Secretary, Fata Fida Wazir, and a PML-N activists from Khyber Agency, Fata, Shahnaz Daulat Khan were scheduled to speak at the seminar. Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pervez Khattak was also invited but he dropped out late and was reportedly to be represented by the provincial assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, who failed to turn up for the event.
Those who are against the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa tore copies of the report of the Fata Reforms Committee, which had recommended the merger over a period of five years.
They alleged that the tribal areas had been declared as a ‘no-man’s land’ in the report of the Fata Reforms Committee and the tribespeople termed as traitors in it. On the other hand, students, lawyers, Fata parliamentarians and those who are in favour of the merger of the tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa accused the officials of the Fata Secretariat of creating hurdles in the implementation of the reforms.
The two sides emotionally defended their positions and shouted slogans against each other and in support of their demands. Until now the two sides have been holding meetings, press conferences and issuing statement but on Saturday they came face to face for the first time and things got out of control.
The trouble began when soon after the Tilawat of holy Quran, tribal elder Malik Khan Marjan belonging to North Waziristan and leader of the Grand Fata Alliance stood up and started accusing the Fata parliamentarians of having bought and sold votes and being incapable of representing the tribal people. He stressed the tribal people won’t accept any decision about Fata imposed from above.
This triggered a pandemonium as tribal MNAs Shahjee Gul Afridi, Shahabuddin Khan and others began defending their position and maintaining that they were elected members and represented the aspirations of the people in Fata. Tribal lawyers’ representatives led by Ijaz Mohmand, Fata students’ leader Shaukat Aziz and their supporters also joined the MNAs in denouncing the Maliks and other tribal elders of working for their vested interest on the instigation of people in the bureaucracy.
A similar event held recently in Islamabad was a smooth affair. The Fata documentary was screened and speeches were made there without any interruption. Sartaj Aziz, the adviser to the Prime Minister on foreign affairs, and chairman of the Fata Reforms Committee, and Lt Gen ® Nasir Janjua, the national security adviser to the Prime Minister, had also spoken at the Islamabad seminar.