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Crisis in tribal districts

 

A very real constitutional crisis has erupted in the settled tribal districts of KP, the region known as Fata until the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.

ICC Dismisses Pakistan Cricket Board's Financial Claim Against Indian Cricket Board

In late October, the Peshawar High Court declared unconstitutional the Fata Interim Governance Regulation and gave the KP government until Nov 30 to establish a judicial system in the region formerly known as Fata that is fully separate from the executive.

The FIGR allowed political agents and deputy political agents renamed as district commissioners and deputy district commissioners to wield judicial powers and decide civil and criminal cases, a fact that the high court objected to because it violates the constitutional separation of powers.

 

With the FIGR struck down by the Peshawar High Court but the KP government appealing to the Supreme Court for its restoration for a transition period of at least five years, since Dec 1 there has been a judicial and administrative vacuum in the settled tribal districts. Commissioners and deputy commissioners stand stripped of their judicial and administrative authority and are effectively operating on the goodwill of the people of settled tribal districts.

The judicial and administrative crisis in the districts surely merits attention at the earliest by the Supreme Court, which must now decide the KP government's appeal against the high court's declaration that the FIGR is unconstitutional. If the court's deadline for establishing a functional and independent judicial system in the settled tribal districts within 30 days was unrealistic, the FIGR itself appears to have been poorly thought out.

And arguably the architects of the 25th Amendment themselves erred in failing to provide for an adequate transition: while the FCR certainly needed to be abolished, the gap between the mainstream judicial system in the provinces and the political agent-led system in Fata was so large that a meaningful transition period was all but necessary.

A few months from the passage of the 25th Amendment, a complex set of constitutional, juridical and administrative problems have mired that historic success in deep controversy.

Seemingly compounding the problem is a power struggle in KP, with the PTI government riven with factions and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan struggling to impose his authority

The merger of Fata and KP is certainly a complex, gargantuan task, but the PTI's inexperience guiding the executive elsewhere in the country does not hold true in KP. Arguably, having led the KP government for the past five years, the PTI was best placed to deliver quick and meaningful results in the newly merged province. Perhaps Prime Minister Imran Khan will need to intervene and bring some much-needed direction and purpose in the functioning of the KP government, too

 

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US officials accuse Islamabad of ignoring or even collaborating with groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network, which attack Afghanistan from safe havens along the border between the two countries.

On the plane ahead of his South Asia trip Pompeo said it was time to "turn the page" and suggested that the election of Khan, who has vowed to seek better relations with the US, could provide a fresh impetus.

"Look, I think there is a new government this time, most of this took place long before the prime minister was in power and I hope we can turn the page and begin to make progress. But there are real expectations," he said.

"There are lot of challenges between our two nations, for sure, but we're hopeful that with the new leadership that we can find common ground and we can begin to work on some of our shared problems together," added Pompeo, who was later joined by General Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"We were providing these resources when it made sense for the United States because the partnership was in a place where the actions of our two countries made sense to do that," he said. "If that arises again, I'm confident we'll present to the president the rationale for that."

The latest remarks represent a change in tone toward the nuclear-armed Muslim country and its new prime minister, a former playboy cricketer who came to office in July amid concerns he would remain tolerant of terror groups.

At the time of the vote, the US noted what it called "flaws" in Pakistan's pre-electoral process but said it was nonetheless ready to work with the new government.

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India's River Diversion Plan and South Asia's Waters

More dams are to come, as India’s need to power its economy means it is quietly spending billions on hydropower in Kashmir. The Senate report totted up 33 hydro projects in the border area with Pakistan. The state’s chief minister, Omar Abdullah, says dams will add an extra 3,000MW to the grid in the next eight years alone. Some analysts in Srinagar talk of over 60 dam projects, large and small, now on the books. (This special report has appeared in the Bulletin on Current Affairs - February 2012, you may have to Buy the print edition to read full story)

More in the Edition:

South Asia's Water - a growing rivalry

Indian, Pakistani & Chinese Border Disputes

India's River Diversion Plan: Its impact on Bangladesh

Water Crisis can Trigger nuclear war in South Asia

Reclaimed Water - the Western Experience

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