By: Zulfiqar Ali
PESHAWAR: The government has allocated huge amount of funds for gender development and juvenile protection in the Annual Development Programme for Fata without extending the relevant laws to tribal areas and setting up the required infrastructure there.
The Fata Civil Secretariat earmarked Rs60 million in the ADP for tribal areas for current fiscal year under the head of support to gender development, marginalised community and juvenile protection.
The government had legislated during the last few years to protect rights of women in the country. But the government has recently extended only Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Act to the tribal belt and set up Women Development Wing at the secretariat in Peshawar to facilitate women entrepreneurs of the area.
According to 1998 census, women are 47.99 per cent of the total population of the tribal areas. But, officials concerned said that no infrastructure including family courts, protection and detention centres for females were available in the area.
Major laws related with women rights included Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2004 (Act No I of 2005), which deals with honour-related violence, Protection of Women (Criminal Law Amendment) Act, 2006, which amends the controversial Offence of Zina (Enforcement of Hadood) Ordinance 1979, etc., the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2010 (Harassment Amendments), Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, 2010, Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 2011 (Acid Crime Act), Criminal law (Third Amendment) Act, 2011 (Prevention of Anti-women Practices Act).The National Commission on the Status of Women has been asking the government to extend scope of all laws related with the welfare and betterment of females in Fata.
An official at the secretariat, dealing with the human rights, said that the federal government had extended Juvenile Justice System Ordinance, 2000 to Fata about eight years ago, but the political administration had done nothing on the ground so far.
Under the law, he said, political agents were bound to set up juvenile courts, jails, borstal institutions and appoint probation officers in their respective tribal agencies and frontier regions.
“Secretariat is asking political agents to take necessary measures regarding juvenile justice system, but they don’t bother,” the official said while seeking anonymity.
Presently, he said, there were no separate lockups for keeping juvenile offenders in tribal areas and they were kept with other prisoners in central jails of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said that political agents were opposing extension of the law, because, what they said, the children at the age of 15 in the tribal areas could carry guns and it could not be implemented in the region.
Amazingly, the official said, political authorities and other departments were interested in the implementation of the laws which helped in revenue generation but they were ignoring the laws related to fundamental rights of the tribal people.
“So far there are no separate detention centres for juvenile and female offenders or victimised children and women in the entire tribal region,” he said, adding that the amount allocated in the ADP would be utilised for construction of infrastructure and advocacy. Sources said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Barrister Masood Kausar had recently directed the quarters concerned to review all laws that had been introduced in tribal areas.
They said that secretariat’s coordination department sent letters to political agents and sought proposals and recommendation for the implementation of the laws extended to the area.