FATA residents hail extension of Pakistan Supreme Courts’ jurisdiction

FATA residents hail extension of Pakistan Supreme Courts’ jurisdiction
Pakistan Supreme Court (AFP)
Updated 14 April 2018

FATA residents hail extension of Pakistan Supreme Courts’ jurisdiction

FATA residents hail extension of Pakistan Supreme Courts’ jurisdiction
  • Political stakeholders and residents of country’s northwestern belt receive the Extension of Jurisdiction to FATA Act 2018, with great sense of triumph
  • Sen. Siraj-ul-Haq, chairman of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, said the extension of the courts’ jurisdiction will stop human rights violations in FATA

PESHAWAR: People in Pakistan’s northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) hailed the Senate’s passing on Friday of the Supreme Court and High Court Bill.
The bill states that the Supreme Court will have the same jurisdiction in FATA as it has in KP, as will the Peshawar High Court. 
Rahim Shah, president of the FATA Lawyers Forum, said under the British-era Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) governing FATA, executive and judicial powers were vested in the political administration, whose decisions could not be challenged in any court of law. 
“Now the decisions of tribal authorities can be challenged in the courts, and it will ensure justice and accountability,” he said.
The existing FATA Tribunal has “little powers, and cannot even hold anyone in contempt of court,” he added.
But Malik Khan Marjan, chairman of the FATA Grand Alliance, told Arab News: “There are thousands of cases pending in different high courts in the country and the Supreme Court, while civil courts also have a huge backlog. How can the High Court decide FATA cases on time when it’s already overburdened?” 
He added: “The FATA Tribunal can be given the powers of a high court, which can help resolve issues related to FATA.”
Supreme Court lawyer Noor Alam Khan said the extension of the courts’ jurisdiction to FATA is crucial in order to curb human rights violations.
“Though late, it was the need of the hour. FATA has been much exploited by the Taliban, and was greatly affected by the Afghan war. The issue of missing persons is also there. This is why the extension of the courts’ jurisdiction is a must for the tribal region,” he added.
“The FCR contains several controversial clauses, including the collective responsibility clause, which holds people responsible for a crime that they themselves may not have committed. This is why the FCR must be ended, and only then can the courts’ jurisdiction in FATA be implemented properly.”
Sen. Momin Khan Afridi of FATA’s Khyber Agency hailed the extension of jurisdiction. “In 2008, when my brother was a senator, the political administration accused me of being involved in anti-state activities. I moved from pillar to post to prove my innocence,” he said.
“Had there been courts in FATA, I would have easily appealed to them back in those days and gotten justice.”
Sen. Siraj-ul-Haq, chairman of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, said the extension of the courts’ jurisdiction will stop human rights violations in FATA. 
“This is the beginning of the future,” he told Arab News, adding that the extension is a step toward further reforms in FATA, including the abolition of the FCR.