US, UK pressure behind Zardari's 'landmark' FATA reforms?

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Islamabad, Aug.15 (ANI): Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's announcement of 'landmark' political, judicial and administrative reforms in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) may be seen as a step to reducing the Taliban's influence in the region, but a well-known journalist has said Zardari might have been forced by the United States and Britain to take such a major step.

Ahmed Rashid, the author of the best-selling book 'Taliban', said he felt that the FATA reforms were introduced under pressure by the United States and Britain.

"It is a good move, but I wish it had been done a year ago," Rashid said.

FATA has been governed by a set of British age rules known as the Frontier Crimes Regulations.

Political parties have long been demanding the government to do away with the draconian law saying they represented a dark legacy of British colonial rule. However, subsequent Pakistani governments have never been able to incorporate the region fully into the country's legal and political system.

Zardari's sudden move in this regard has therefore compelled analysts to think that Islamabad acted under international pressure.

The Awami National Party (ANP), which heads the government in North West Frontier Province (NWFP), said Zardari did not consult it before announcing the reforms."We were not consulted," The New York Times quoted an ANP senator.

Muhammad Zahid Khan, as saying.

"Whatever good or bad comes out of this decision, we do not own it," he added.

Human rights leaders and analysts fear that that lack of agreement over the issue would hinder the process of implementing the reforms.

"The lack of agreement between the coalition partners would mean that the changes would become controversial and the whole process would not remain smooth," said Ibn-e-Abdu Rahman, a director of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

"So far, as permission for political activities is concerned, it is a very healthy development. It is an advance and would enable the people to gradually come out of the stagnant tribal relations," Rahman said. (ANI)

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