The government is inching closer to its goal of making reforms to the legal and legislative system in FATA, but initial reports suggest that the changes will not be nearly enough to adequately improve the status of the people. The abolishment of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) is obviously the first step in what will be a long process of slowly integrating the region into the rest of the country. But this will be redundant if it does not fulfil three fundamental objectives.

Firstly, any system that replaces it must not include draconian laws such as collective punishment, but additionally must also ensure that the people of FATA are granted fundamental rights such as the right to a fair trial. The influence wielded by political agents as judge, jury and executioner in all matters must come to an end. And of course, on a further level, the power held by tribal leaders must also be taken away.

The FATA Reforms Committee will submit its report to the Prime Minister on May 5, and prominent among the list of changes will be including a judicial appeals process, that will take some power from political agents, but not all. This measure is not nearly enough to address the concerns of the people, and indeed, it is questionable how this process will be made available to all legitimate cases. And while it is likely that the government will at least manage to abolish collective punishment, more is needed in order to negate the tribal leaders power.

Just how the FATA Reforms Committee, which is still not wholeheartedly supported by the people of FATA, can suggest laws that the people need is beyond understanding. The people of FATA do not merely need to be passed on from the President to the Chief Minister of KPK, which was one of the suggestions made in the committee. FATA’s people want its own representatives to lead the discussion on what is to be the future. But this, the government has so far failed to do. The state of Pakistan has a responsibility to provide all of its citizens with intrinsic rights in all of its territories. State responsibility becomes no less important in FATA. If the people want their representatives to decide, the government should look to bring important stakeholders on board, and not just the corrupt tribal leaders, but actual members of the community that are better suited to making legitimate changes to the system.