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> Civil-Military Relations Group demands Setting up a Special Senate Committee on FATA

November 02, 2007
Hotel Serena, Islamabad


The Dialogue Group on Civil-Military Relations has demanded setting up of a special committee of the Senate on FATA to come up with a strategy to deal with the FATA insurgency through wide consultation. The Group has also called for an immediate review of the government’s policy in dealing with the Tribal Areas. The Dialogue Group, which comprises both eminent civilian and retired military minds, and is facilitated by PILDAT met on November 01, 2007 at Islamabad and reviewed the insurgency scenario in FATA and adjoining areas in its meeting.


The group is convinced that the manner of our participation in the international war on terror is causing deep strains and fissures in the national fabric and is polarizing society. This policy requires a thorough review and modification before events overtake us again. The Group has consistently held the position that military operations, whether by the army or the civil armed forces, should be put on hold and a meaningful interactive dialogue started with stakeholders in the Tribal Areas.


There is a widely-held perception in FATA, as well as in most of the country, that Pakistan is following a US-led agenda in dealing with the tribal areas, the Group held. This perception is fuelling the insurgency in FATA. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the state needs to clean the area of foreign elements that find a safe haven there to operate. This scenario can not be dealt with through military operation alone. The group also noted with concern that the political process is so fragmented that its ability to deal with this issue on its own is also limited. The Tribal Areas require long-term process of improvement of basic services and there has to be a system on ground that can effectively deliver these services, the Group believed.


The present government, as well as the new government which will come in through the process of a free and fair election, would require a wider consultative process to come up with a strategy to deal with the issues in FATA. This wider consultation, the Group proposed, can be made possible through setting up a special committee of the Senate of Pakistan. This committee, through involving the eight (8) senators from FATA and other representatives, should be set-up immediately and come up with a strategy within the next few weeks by holding consultations with wider segments of society. The members of the Dialogue Group on Civil-Military Relations, as well as PILDAT, can offer their assistance to the committee to come up with a workable strategy.


The Dialogue Group on Civil-Military Relations, which regularly meets since September 2004, is also known in the media as a Group of 18 that addressed a letter to the President of Pakistan back in July 2006 advising him against combining the office of the President of Pakistan with the Chief of Army Staff because it politicizes the Constitutional office of the Presidency and the institution of the Armed Forces. The members participating in the meeting included Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Abdul Qadir, Former Governor Balochistan; Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Abdul Qadir Baloch, Former Governor Balochistan/Corps Commander Quetta; Lt. General (Retd.) Asad Durrani, Former DG ISI; Dr. Imran Ali, Social Scientist; Lt. Gen. (Retd) Jamshed Gulzar, Former Chairman FPSC; Mrs. Mahtab Akbar Rashdi, Former Civil Servant; Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, MNA; Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Moinuddin Haider, Former Governor Sindh; Mr. Rustam Shah Mohmand, Former Chief Secretary NWFP; Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, Former Senator & Minister; Mr. Shahid Hamid, Former Governor Punjab; Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Former Federal Minister; Brig (Retd.) Shaukat Qadir, Former Vice President IPRI; Senator S. M. Zafar; Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director and Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint director PILDAT.