Conference / Seminar / Webinar 08/04/2019
IPRI NATIONAL DIALOGUE SERIES (SESSION-I)
“Mainstreaming of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Tribal Districts (KPTD), formerly FATA, into National/Political Architecture: Challenges and Solutions” and “Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Concerns, Reservations and Aspirations: Mainstreaming GB”
February 28, 2019
- In order to discuss pressing national issues within a single national strategic framework, it was proposed to hold a “National Dialogue Series” at Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) platform. The idea/rationale behind holding this dialogue was that nationally, these events will help set up a discourse, along with generating ideas and setting forth multiple modus operandi for policy makers to address anomalies in national governance, domestic issues, socio-economic challenges, and national security issues. Likewise, first session of the “National Dialogue Series” was held on two themes of national importance, i.e. “Mainstreaming of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Tribal Districts (KPTDs), formerly FATA, into National/Political Architecture: Challenges and Solutions” and “Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Concerns, Reservations and Aspirations: Mainstreaming GB” by IPRI on February 28, 2019 at IPRI Conference Hall, Experts in the relevant field were invited to share their considered opinion on the given subjects.
- The dialogue was planned as two working sessions, one on KPTDs and the other on GB. The following were among the panelists:-
- Owais Ahmed Ghani, former Governor, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Baluchistan – Chief Guest and Keynote Speaker
- Ambassador (R) Inam-ul-Haq, Former Foreign Minister and Chairman Board of Governors (BOGs), IPRI – Moderator
- Sohail Shehzad, Professor, Khyber Law College, University of Peshawar
- Waseem Ishaque, Assistant Professor, National Defense University, Islamabad
- Mohammad Amir Rana, Director, Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS), Islamabad
- Syed Adnan Ali Shah Bukhari, Consultant, IPRI
- Ahmer Bilal Soofi, former Federal Law Minister – Moderator
- Aziz Ali Dad, Gilgit-based Social Scientist and Columnist
- Saranjam Baig, Director, Center for Research on CPEC (CRC), Senate of the Karakoram International University, Gilgit College of Commerce and Economics, Gilgit (Dr. Baig could not attend the conference due to unforeseen circumstances but he submitted his paper on the subject)
- Raja Qaiser Ahmed, Lecturer, SPIR, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad
- Detailed report is attached at Annex-A.
- The dialogue was substantive and animated discussion took place. It is suggested that recommendations may be shared with Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), Prime Minister’s Office, and other relevant stakeholders/Ministries.
- Keynote Address: Apart from the salients of his speech which are included in the report, Mr Owais Ahmed Ghani’s presentation was the hallmark of the dialogue due to his experience and knowledge of the subject.
- Major Takeaways of the dialogue are as under:-
- In the historical context, the tribal areas of Pakistan have been in a no state condition for the last decade or so. There has neither been strong writ of the state nor any legislative system and have stayed on the fringes of various empires in the past. The KPTDs, formerly FATA along with Balochistan and GB, have been part of the Hindukush fault-line, which is why; they will remain major areas for subversive activities by the external hostile actors.
- The existence of ungoverned spaces had acted as breeding ground for trans-national threats, most notably from terrorist groups to criminal syndicates. The ingredients for these ungoverned spaces were inherently present in the shape of colonial-era administrative, constitutional, political and socio-economic makeup of the region. This coupled with the chaos and anarchy in Afghanistan converted FATA into a “no-go” area for the Pakistani state for long.
- There exist administrative anomalies in the KPTDs that weaken the writ of the state. Unlike the rest of Pakistan, there is a different administrative system in the KPTDs, i.e. residents enjoy collective benefits for collective responsibilities. This system was acceptable to residents who lived in areas of the KPTDs but not to urbanized residents of places like Kohat, Peshawar and farther afield.
- The system of “Riwaaj” is not as draconian as it is made out to be. It ensures collective restraint within the tribes, it works on reciprocity and anyone who goes against these principles is expelled from the land (the concept of Kushaanda). Pre-Afghan Jihad, the tribal areas were generally peaceful and had low crimes rate. However, this changed when Wahabbi brand of Shariah clashed with “Riwaaj” in the tribal areas.
- Statistically, security has been improving in the tribal areas. Since 2009, there has been a 19 percent decrease in suicide bombings. However, the level of insecurity has not decreased.
- The main grievances of the residents of the tribal areas are related to slow rehabilitation, issues of compensation, strict security checkpoints, high rents of shops in newly constructed markets, “enforced disappearances” and complete cyber blackout.
- There is also a feeling that the merger decision has been taken in haste. The government has gone for a top-down approach. It would have been prudent to develop consensus first by taking all the local people into confidence and then devise with a strategy.
- There is also a disconnect between the expectations of the local people of tribal areas and the state. The local people hold simple aspirations and do not understand the regional and global security paradigms related to the KPTDs.
- The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) is exploiting the dissatisfaction and vulnerabilities of the young people of the region. The collective leadership is responsible for letting the situation deteriorate to this level. Genuine grievances of the locals are being exploited by politically ambitious individuals like PTM.
- In the case of GB, unlike the KPTDs where there was lack of an administrative system, there is an excess of administrative measures in the GB. It has been kept in perpetual limbo as it is part of Pakistan administratively, but not constitutionally.
- Dissolution of the princely states led to a political vacuum, which is being filled by sectarian forces in GB. As a result, political disintegration is taking place along the sectarian lines. It is important to note that the GB communities were based on cultural/kinship based identities. However, since the 1980’s there is an increase in sectarian based identities. Existence of Shia majority in BG is proving paradoxical compared to the rest of the country.
- The GB leadership has created a client-service relationship with the national leadership. They rely on them for the fulfillment of their political manifestos. However, national manifestos take precedence over the popular mandate of the GB people.
- The state has tried to defuse the situation by co-opting the people of GB into the status quo. This is evident from the fact that 23 percent of the people from GB have been inducted to work for the government. In other provinces, a mere 3-4 percent of the population works for the government. There is very little effort on local jobs creation.
- It has been almost fifteen years when the last local bodies elections in the GB were held. As a result, 2nd tier leadership of the GB does not exist.
- Legally, restrictive laws of mainland Pakistan are extended to GB but the facilitating ones are not. For instance, the Land Acquisition Act is extended to GB but does not include the facilitating amendments, which are extended to the Punjab or other provinces, rather administrators in GB apply land acquisition laws of different provinces and federal jurisdiction on arbitrary basis.
- The GB Order 2018 has further constrained the political autonomy of the region. The main controversy has been over the unparalleled powers given to the Prime Minister regarding matters pertaining to GB. For instance, there are 62 subjects directly under the authority of the Prime Minister. Furthermore, a clause in the Order says that if the GB Legislative Assembly adopts legislation, which the Prime Minister does not approve of, the legislation would stand void.
- Recommendations: Detailed recommendations listed in Para 3 of the detailed report are focused and relevant and may be read in conjunction with the takeaways.
Detailed Post-Event Report
IPRI NATIONAL DIALOGUE SERIES (SESSION-I)
“Mainstreaming of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Tribal Districts (KPTD), formerly FATA, into National/Political Architecture: Challenges and Solutions” and “Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Concerns, Reservations and Aspirations: Mainstreaming GB”
February 28, 2019
In order to discuss pressing national issues within a single national strategic framework, it was proposed to hold a “National Dialogue Series” at Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) platform. The idea/rationale behind holding this dialogue was that nationally, these events will help set up a discourse, along with generating ideas and setting forth multiple modus operandi for policy makers to address anomalies in national governance, domestic issues, socio-economic challenges, and national security issues. Likewise, first session of the “National Dialogue Series” was held on two themes of national importance, i.e. “Mainstreaming of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Tribal Districts (KPTDs), formerly FATA, into National/Political Architecture: Challenges and Solutions” and “Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Concerns, Reservations and Aspirations: Mainstreaming GB” by IPRI on February 28, 2019 at IPRI Conference Hall, Islamabad. The deliberations were so directed as to culminate in a broad national narrative, besides formulation of possible solutions and policy recommendations. Experts in the relevant field were invited to share their expert opinion on the given subjects.
The dialogue was substantive and animated discussion took place. The recommendations may be shared with Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), Prime Minister’s Office, and other relevant stakeholders/Ministries.
- Dialogue Proceedings
- Inaugural Session
In his welcome address, Brig (R) Mohammad Mehboob Qadir, Acting President, Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), Islamabad said that IPRI’s National Dialogue Series was spread over two years and will dilate upon matters of national importance with the intent to come up with broad contours of national narrative. While talking of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Tribal Districts (KPTDs), formerly known as FATA, he said that the existence of ungoverned spaces had acted as breeding grounds for transnational threats, most notably from terrorist groups and criminal syndicates. It is important to note that the ingredients of less governed spaces were inherited in the shape of colonial-era administrative, constitutional, political and socio-economic makeup. This coupled with the chaos and anarchy in Afghanistan had the evil effect of converting FATA into a “no-go” area for the Pakistani state. To uproot these issues, the government introduced wide-ranging reforms, most recently, the decision to merge FATA with the province of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). However, the region faces various impediments in face of this decision such as the replacement of existing traditional institutions with modern state institutions, presence of strong tribalism, Rewaj, Jirga among other socio-cultural ethos.
While talking about the second session of the roundtable, he said that Gilgit Baltistan (GB), owing to its geographical contiguity to South Asian as well as Central Asian states carries, has immense significance for the successful materialization of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). However, question mark over the constitutional future of GB remains a problem towards this end. Reforms introduced so far have not been able to allay the genuine concerns of the people of GB.
In his Keynote Address, Mr. Owais Ahmed Ghani, former Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, said that historically, the KPTDs, formerly FATA along with Balochistan and GB, have been part of the Hindukush fault-line, which is why, they will remain major areas for subversive activities by the external hostile actors. There exist administrative anomalies in the FATA that weaken the writ of the state. For instance, the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) was used in “Illaqa” (Sarkar) which comprised of 27 percent of the region and “Riwaj” was implemented in “Illaqa-e-Ghair” which was the remaining 73 percent. There is a different administrative system in FATA which was based on a system of collective benefits in return for collective responsibilities. The collective benefits included exemption from major taxes, no jurisdiction of parliament and judiciary, license-free weapons and no compulsory acquisition of property. On the other hand, the collective responsibilities included security of roads, governments’ buildings, and collective undertaking by all tribes to not allow sanctuary for criminal and anti-state elements in their area.
While discussing the FCR, he explained that it was not a law but an administrative instrument for correction of violations via a system of actions/measures in order of escalating severity. The FCR was supported by tribes residing in FATA and living in Tribal Riwaj but opposed by urbanized tribesmen residing outside FATA, in areas such as Kohat. He remarked that FCR was less draconian than the normal system of Pakistan. For instance, under FCR there were no compulsory land acquisitions or death sentences. While giving a broad outline for the way forward, he said that the government needed to adopt an incremental step-by-step approach and conduct extensive consultation with FATA residents. Administrative and Judicial systems needed to be implemented in order to eliminate their current shortcomings and the government should start with the easier areas first and then target the difficult areas.
- Working/Academic Sessions
Session-I: “Mainstreaming of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Tribal Districts (KPTDs), formerly FATA, into National/Political Architecture: Challenges and Solutions”
Chair – Ambassador (R) Inam-ul-Haq, Former Foreign Minister and Chairman Board of Governors (BOGs), IPRI
Dr. Sohail Shehzad, Professor, Khyber Law College, University of Peshawar talked on “Tribalism and Rewaj and Proposed Rule of Law Reforms in KPTD: Challenges in Transforming Traditional Institutions into Formal Justice Institutions.” In his talk, Dr. Shehzad said that the tribal areas of Pakistan have been in a pre-state condition for the last decade or so. There has neither been strong writ of the state nor any legislative system and have stayed on the fringes of various empires in the past. In the legal sense, two sections of the FCR hold immense importance to understand how the tribal areas work: section 8 and section 11. While the former dealt with civil proceedings, the latter dealt with criminal proceedings of the tribal areas. It gave the authority to the political elite to adjudicate these matters through the counsel of elders. This gave important authority to the tribal elders of the area. First, in the determination of Riwaj and second once the tribal elders have determined Riwaj, they will have the authority to interpret it. It gave complete freedom to the tribal people to look after every facet of their individual and collective tribal life.
There are a few dynamics of Riwaj that need to be understood. Revenge and self-restraint are the basis of Riwaj and in turn, it becomes a connection between the land and its owner. According to Riwaj, if anyone violates the norms of the land, they are expelled from their tribal land. This is known as “Kushuunda”. Pre-Afghan Jihad, the FATA region was peaceful, well-governed and had low crimes rate. However, this changed once the Wahaabi brand of Shariah clashed with Riwaj in the tribal areas. This conflict exacerbated after 9/11, during which the tribal chiefs, who were the practitioners of Riwaj were systematically killed by militants. With dying Riwaj and no formal legal system, a vacuum was created in the tribal areas. However, the government has used a push button approach to fill this vacuum in the form of the 25th Amendment, which merged FATA with KP and brought the tribal areas at par with other provinces of the country. The problem remains at the transition level as the tribal people have never been exposed to the formal legal system before. The Supreme Court has given six months to the government to set up the formal legal system in FATA, which is an uphill task as well as an unprecedented opportunity.
Dr. Waseem Ishaque, Assistant Professor, National Defense University, Islamabad presented his views on “Internal Security Challenges and Socio-Economic Dynamics of KPTD: Land Ownership and Tribal Social Fabric and Implications of Mainstreaming.” Dr. Ishaque explained that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) made FATA the epicenter of terrorism. However, the military operations Zarb-e-Azab and Radd-ul-Fassaad have been instrumental in eliminating the menace of terrorism and brining relative normalcy back to this terror-ridden region. However, these successes did not eliminate all challenges. The infrastructure of the tribal areas is in ruins due to terrorism. The temporarily displaced persons have not been completely rehabilitated. The region has less than 30 percent literacy rate, making the population vulnerable to extremism. The people face severe health and sanitation issues. The people of the tribal areas relied on subsistence farming for their livelihood. However, farming became inaccessible due to terrorism and the military operations. The government needs to ensure that security and development needs to be undertaken concurrently. The government needs to implement a comprehensive administrative architecture within the bounds of tribal culture. In order to propel economic activity in the region, the government should concentrate on establishing small-scale industries in marble and minerals. They are in abundance in areas like Bajaur. The government should also ensure that FATA is fully integrated into the CPEC.
Mr. Mohammad Amir Rana, Director, Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS), Islamabad spoke on “Ensuring Security in KPTD.” He apprised the audience about the current security situation in FATA. He said that statistically since 2009, the security of FATA has improved. There has been a 19 percent decrease in suicide bomb attacks in the region. However, the level of insecurity has not decreased. The current challenges facing the residents of FATA are slow rehabilitation, no compensation, strict security checkpoints, “enforced disappearances”, high rents of market shops and complete cyber blackouts. Nonetheless, there is a sense of enthusiasm amongst the people of FATA regarding the merger as they feel that it would bring prosperity into their lives.
There is also a feeling that the merger decision has been taken in haste. The government has gone for a top-down approach. It would have been prudent to develop consensus first by taking all the local people into confidence and then come up with a strategy. There is also a disconnect between the expectations of the local people of tribal areas and the state of Pakistan. The local people hold simple aspirations and do not understand the regional and global security paradigms related to the KPTDs.
Dr. Syed Adnan Ali Shah Bukhari, Consultant, IPRI, Islamabad spoke on “External Security Challenges, Prospects of Cross Border Security Cooperation and Role of Police and Military.” He was of the view that the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and Security Institutions in former FATA largely operated under the FCR and local tribal arrangements. These included Frontier Corps, Frontier Constabulary, Levies Force and Khasadars. Recruitments for these agencies were made from among the people of FATA. Under the new proposals for KPTDs, the Police Act 1861 and FIA Act were extended to the KPTDs in September 2017. Furthermore, as part of the proposed police infrastructure, 45000 personnel will be recruited and 13 Police lines, 95 Police stations, 190 Police posts to be established in the KPTDs. However, there is a controversy regarding retaining existing levies and Khasadars or replacing them with regular police force. To this end, a new Levies Act and Khasadar Act has been proposed. The KP police is also disagreeing with a hybrid system of policing in KP’s settled and tribal districts. The KP government wants to retain control of Levies and Khasadars.
Internally, high terror threat, local opposition to the Security Sector Reforms (SSR), financial squeeze and bureaucratic bottlenecks remain the main hurdles. Externally, Afghanistan remains a major source of concern due to terrorist sanctuaries, hostile agencies, illegal migration and criminal syndicates working in the country that could permeate into the KPTDs. The KPTDs are the “soft underbelly” of Pakistan, hence, it is imperative that expeditious implementation of the SSR is undertaken in order to avoid any conflict trap. There is a need to raise awareness on two levels: (i) to create awareness about the benefits of SSR among KPTD’s inhabitants and (ii) to create awareness among policymakers regarding local sensitivities.
The first session was followed by a question/answer session with a wide array of comments and questions. The important ones are as under:-
A participant asked the panelists if the socio-economic reforms had improved the lives of the locals and had helped in changing the attitude towards Pakistan army. He was told that the construction of the Central Waziristan road has opened up the area. Another similar project is the road from Dera Ismail Khan to Wana. The panelist also clarified that the greatest show of goodwill of the locals towards the army was the successful completion of various military operations. The problem arises when the army forced their own values and agenda on the people without any prior consultation with the locals.
While commenting on the PTM, the Keynote Speaker, Mr. Owais Ahmed Ghani said that the PTM was in fact exploiting the vulnerabilities and dissatisfaction of the young people of the region. He said that the collective leadership was responsible for letting the situation stoop to such level. Hence, it comes as no surprise that politically ambitious individuals are exploiting this situation.
While talking of the land issues in the KPTDs, a participant remarked that there were no official records of the land. In projects like Mohmand Dam, the local people of FATA are being forced to sell their land on deflated prices.
Session-II: Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Concerns, Reservations and Aspirations: Mainstreaming GB
Chair – Mr. Ahmer Bilal Soofi, former Federal Law Minister
Mr. Aziz Ali Dad, Gilgit-based Social Scientist and Columnist spoke on “Mainstreaming Gilgit Baltistan: Socio-Cultural Perceptions.” In his presentation, he emphasized that the government has been unable to alleviate the growing concerns of the populace about the liminal/marginal status of the region within the polity of Pakistan. The main reason to keep GB in a liminal position within the political system of the country is its association with the Kashmir imbroglio. This is despite the fact that GB is the only region in the country that decided to accede to Pakistan after gaining independence from the Dogra rule through an armed struggle. Rather than paying attention to the basic question of the status of GB, the state has launched manoeuvers to grant a few crumbs of power to the local political class, which remains content with these perks and privileges. Unlike the KPTDs, there is an excess of administrative measures in the GB region. This perpetual limbo has pushed GB and its inhabitants into the “zone of nonbeing”. The disconnect between power and the people generates anger, which then provides a fertile ground for upheavals.
There is a general trend in GB that the party in the centre (Pakistan) normally wins the elections in the region. This is the result of a mentality that develops in the region where politicians belonging to national-level parties seek largesse from the centre for their peripheral zone of “nonbeing.” Once in power, they prefer to toe the line dictated by the rulers at the expense of popular sentiments. The wide chasm between the views of the incumbent government of GB and the people regarding taxation in the region shows the weak position of the peripheral power of the liminal region vis-a-vis the powerful centre. Instead of providing a long-term solution, both existing and previously ruling parties in GB try to capitalise on popular sentiments for their political mileage. As a result, the long overdue question of the status of the region remains in perpetual limbo. It is the act of keeping GB in perpetual limbo for the sake of the intractable problem of Kashmir that begets anger. What the ruling class fails to understand is the failure of the system. Instead of mainstreaming the region and its people within the constitution of Pakistan, the system further dehumanizes and alienates them by pushing them into a zone of nonbeing.
He further explained that the dissolution of the princely states led to a political vacuum, which is being filled by sectarian forces. As a result, political disintegration is taking place along the sectarian lines. It is important to note that the GB communities were based on cultural/kinship based identities. However, since the 1980’s there is an increase in sectarian based identities. Existence of Shia majority in GB is proving paradoxical compared to the rest of the country.
The GB leadership has created a client-service provider relationship with the national leadership. They rely on them for the fulfillment of their political manifestos. However, national manifestos take precedence over the popular mandate of the GB people. The state has tried to defuse the situation by co-opting the people of GB into the status quo. This is evident from the fact that 23 percent of the people from GB have been inducted to work for the government. In other provinces, a mere 3-4 percent of the population works for the government. There is very little effort on local jobs creation.
Dr. Saranjam Baig, Director, Center for Research on CPEC (CRC), Senate of the Karakoram International University, Gilgit College of Commerce and Economics, Gilgit talked on “China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC): Prospects and Opportunities for Gilgit Baltistan.” Dr. Baig could not attend the conference due to unforeseen circumstances but he submitted his paper on the subject. In his paper, he writes that with the advent of CPEC, the political case of GB is once again in the limelight. It has provided, both insiders and outsiders, an opportunity to question the legality of making corridor pass through a region that has been a candidate for political and constitutional reforms. In regards to CPEC and GB, the government has been vague about what the project entails for the region. For instance, except for the US$ 44 million fiber optic project, the government has not disclosed any major energy or infrastructure projects for GB. Nonetheless, there have been improvements in infrastructure and communications due to CPEC. As a result, there has been unprecedented inflow of domestic tourists since the last three years.
The biggest challenge to reap full benefits from CPEC in GB is the institutional and political fragility and this fragility is a direct consequence of keeping the region in a constitutional limbo. For instance, confusion and ambiguity regarding CPEC prevails at every level of the policy arena in GB. The non-seriousness of the state is evident from the fact that there is no parliamentary committee on CPEC in GB. Furthermore, the CPEC Cell at Planning and Development Commission, Government of GB has not been able to make use of even 10 percent of its annual budget in the last three years. In this backdrop, it can be conveniently construed that without improving the political and institutional fragility in GB, the full potential of CPEC cannot be realized in the region.
Dr. Raja Qaiser Ahmed, Lecturer, SPIR, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad spoke on “Political, Social and Economic Rights of the people of Gilgit Baltistan.” Dr. Qaiser said that there was overlapping jurisdiction over this topic. It simultaneously falls under the rubric of International Relations (IR) and Political science. The discussion of a political system and its implementation in GB comes under the concept of power sharing arrangement in a disputed territory. There are three kinds of power sharing arrangements; consocialism, centrepetalism and power sharing in itself which is granting of autonomy. The issue of GB comes under the third category as it is currently experiencing asymmetrical federalism. This means that it is not considered at parity with the rest of the provinces of the country. As a result, it is not an equal federating unit and does not enjoy the same perks and privileges as other federating units.
Clubbing of GB’s future with the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is at the core of this discussion. In this regard, two letters written by the Viceroy of united India after the 1935 proposal of Indian Federation are important. In the first letter, it is stated that the areas of Gilgit, Nagar and Hunza have no connection to Kashmir as there is no geographical contiguity so they should be dealt with like other princely states. However, the second letter claimed that this region was part of the Jammu Kashmir as the people of this region were paying taxes to the Maharaja of Kashmir. This is at the heart of the confusion over this issue.
In the recent past, the state has taken measures to provide relief to the people of GB but have fallen short. In 2009, the Pakistan People’s Party promulgated the Self-Government Order which tried to give some autonomy but was not in parity with the demands of the people of GB. This debate took a new turn with the GB Order 2018. The main controversy has been over the unprecedented powers given to the Prime Minister regarding matters pertaining to GB. For instance, there are 62 subjects directly under the authority of the Prime Minister. Furthermore, a clause in the Order says that if the Legislative Assembly adopts legislation on GB, and if the Prime Minister does not approve of the legislation, it would stand null and void. This has further constrained the political autonomy of the region.
The second session was followed by a question/answer session with a wide array of comments and questions. The important ones are as under:-
In a comment, a participant said that it has been almost fifteen years since there have been no local elections in the GB. As a result, 2nd tier leadership of the GB has been scuttled. Legally, restrictive laws of mainland Pakistan are extended to GB but the facilitating ones are not. For instance, the “Land Acquisition Act” is extended to GB but does not include the facilitating amendments, which are extended to the Punjab and other provinces. The Chair, Mr. Ahmer Bilal Soofi, said that to alleviate the sufferings of the people of GB, private ventures need to be encouraged in the region. It should also be ensured that the local people have a stake in these ventures, as per the Dubai model.
- In the KPTDs, at the administrative and political level, each district needs to be designated as one constituency for the Member of National Assembly (MNA), Tehsils be designated as the constituency of the Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA), elected Tehsil councils to act as sole local body units with a Chairperson to provide fair representation to sub-tribes as well. Ilaqa (Area) needs to be designated as the new administrative unit whose jurisdiction should be identical to that of a Thana (Police Station) administered by an Ilaqa (Area) Magistrate. Similarly, Judges and District Commissioners must be placed at a single location rather than separate locations for the convenience of the public.
- For grievance resolution of civil and criminal offences, reconciliation/Musalehati committees must be adopted for resolution of issues. Moreover, resolution of land disputes should be done through local Jirgas for land settlement and these must be recognized by the judicial organs of the state. In tandem with this, it was also suggested that along with national judicial reforms, there is also the need for introducing a reformed system of judiciary in the KPTDs in order to allow them to be governed under a uniform judicial system, which is prevalent across other areas of Pakistan.
- In order to undertake socio-economic development in the newly merged KPTDs, an incremental approach needs to be followed for socio-economic transformation through Urbanization. In the first phase of this program, private townships, official residence and colony for public servants, modern bazar or commercial area, along with educational facilities such as schools and colleges for boys and girls with boarding facility be set up to act as a magnet. Similarly, these units must also have one major modern hospital and a military cantonment.
- The KPTDs should have uniform education system. Young boys aspiring to join a cadet college should be given scholarships at merit and the fee structure should be selected down in order to accommodate and benefit a large base of the youth to receive quality education.
- It was also suggested that the issue of land mines be addressed at the earliest in order to serve public from being exposed to security and safety hazard in the KPTDs. Moreover, the issue of missing persons also needs to be addressed by taking the families of all such people on board. Any person under custody, if involved in crimes of national security, be speedily produced before courts and prosecuted in accordance with law.
- In order to uplift, harness and encourage the major sources of income of the people, which comprise of agriculture and livestock, government must ensure provision of water resources through small water dams and development of veterinary clinics. Similarly development of small scale industries be undertaken to enable processing of coal and marble by local industrial base. Specifically, it was recommended that a processing plant be set up in Mardan for marble.
- The KPTDs must also be facilitated in the Western route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in order to bring about socio-economic development in these areas.
- In order to undertake development work and to ensure transparent and accountable use of resources, quality framework of evaluation is also needed for judicious utilization of resources. In order to avoid conflict of interest among public officials working in the KPTDs, it was strongly urged that all kind of such officials be prevented from engaging in business during public service.
- In the Durand Line Agreement, the “Easement Rights” of some tribes permit them to move freely between Afghanistan and Pakistan. This right should be ensured while merging the KPTDs in the KP. It was also suggested that in order to provide consistent opportunities for the local business owners in the KPTDs, cross border trade with Afghans be facilitated by the government for economic uplift of the local businesses.
- Mainstream political parties of Pakistan should be provided an enabling environment to function inside the newly augmented KPTDs in order to mitigate the effects and further dilute rise of groups such as Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM).
- It was also suggested that the term of “Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa Tribal Districts” must be dropped, as the presence of this term can create fissure between people of other areas in the KP with those belonging to the KPTDs. It can also lead to stigmatization and subsequent polarization of people from the KPTDs. Dropping this term will also help in smooth mainstreaming and transition of these districts inside the jurisdiction of the KP.
- It is also crucial to introduce comprehensive Security Sector Reforms (SSR) in the KPTDs. The SSR are mostly introduced in areas where security and law enforcement related mechanisms and framework appear to be weak or completely absent. In Afghanistan, Afghan National Security Forces, Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army were all introduced under the initiative of the SSR. Similarly, in the KPTDs, government will need to replace Khasadar and Levies with KP Police. Since, Khasadar and Levies forces are a source of incumbency for the state. In order to undertake law enforcement and criminal justice system related reforms, the government will need to allocate more monetary resources than the current budget of Rs. 26 billion.
- Pakistan must keep a tight check on non-state actors and elements, particularly terrorist groups and individuals that are supported by the nexus of National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Research and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in order to prevent and preempt any threats to the ongoing SSR reforms.
- In order to help neutralize the threat of terrorists coming from Afghanistan, the government will also need to revive the Pakistan-Afghanistan-US Tripartite Commission. Nearly, all terrorist decapitations of Afghan-based terrorist leaders of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and its affiliates came through cooperation under the Tripartite Commission. Similarly, there is also critical need for initiating intelligence sharing between Afghan NDS and Pakistan’s ISI.
- Since granting and recognition of identity is a fundamental right under Charter for Human Rights, therefore, it is imperative for the parliament and the government to take the people of GB out of this limbo and grant them identity through constitutional recognition by undertaking a constitutional amendment at priority.
- There is a need for bringing awareness among political parties regarding the need to address legitimate aspirations and grievances of the people of GB. At present, none of the political parties mention or factor in campaign promises for GB in their election manifestoes.
- In the GB, provision of public facilities and resources must never be made on the basis of sectarian identity, as sectarianism is replacing the tribal and kinship based identity. Moreover, provision of such public services along sectarian lines can be caustic for national and local cohesion. Therefore, such public services must purely be planned and provided under inclusive needs of local population in a given administrative jurisdiction.
- Integrating or combining the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir with GB only deprives people of their due political rights. Therefore, the GB must be separated from the Jammu and Kashmir dispute for political and constitutional purposes.
- As of now, 23 percent of the public relies on earning their income and livelihood from the government, as almost the quarter of the population works with the government. Private sector must be enabled in GB for job-creation, reducing reliance on government for provision of employment, and generating greater economic activity in the de facto province.
- Private sector needs to be facilitated and encouraged for making investment in GB. In order to benefit the local people, they must also be given the chance to hold cooperative shares or invest in joint ventures with incoming private corporations. Similarly, in areas of employment locals must be given priority and be granted a special quota.
- Issue of land rights in GB must be addressed at the earliest. Being sensitive and complicated, the issue must not be left at the discretion of administrative organs alone. There is need for introducing comprehensive land reforms as desired by the people of GB through necessary legislation. Easing the process of land purchase and sale through adequate legislation in GB will stimulate and generate greater economic activity.
- It is also important to expedite and grant land acquisition rights to the people, as India could challenge Pakistan’s attempt to build Diamer Bhasha Dam on Indus River at the International Court of Justice, since at present GB doesn’t have any governing Land Acquisition Laws.
- In GB, it is important to hold local government elections at the earliest. Holding local body elections will enable the Federal and Provincial governments to help address the issue of governance. It will also provide an enabling political environment through creation of second tier of political leadership for the region to encourage a democratic political culture at the grass root level.
- At present, there is also a need for building the capacity of legal fraternity in GB. Mr. Ahmar Bilal Soofi, President, Research Society of International Law (RSIL), urged IPRI to hold a joint “Legal Fellowship” along with RSIL for lawyers from GB to help build their capacity regarding various federal and provincial laws applied at present in the jurisdiction of GB. The fellowship will span a week and will include a two hours lecture in each class.
- There is a need to review excessive powers granted to the Prime Minister’s Office for governing GB. PM’s office even holds the power to levy taxes. GB must be granted administrative and provincial autonomy identical to the one granted to the rest of the provinces in Pakistan. This move will also help prevent any political crisis in GB coupled with consolidating people’s confidence and trust.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are of the speakers and are not necessarily reflective of IPRI policy.