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Kashmir has been embroiled in an endless cycle of violence for over a fortnight now. More than 40 people have been killed and 2000 wounded by Indian security forces so far. Srinagar is under a curfew and Indian army personnel have resorted to indiscriminate firing against protesting Kashmiris calling for an end to the reign of terror in the Valley.
Kashmir has never been at peace. Over the years its inhabitants have kept chafing under the heavy handed rule imposed by New Delhi. The latest phase in the Kashmir uprising erupted about two weeks ago after the Indian army shot dead Burhan Wani, a member of the Hizbul Mujahedeen. In recent months Wani had emerged as a hero of resistance against Indian occupation and was very popular with young people in the Valley.  The news of Wani’s death sent a wave of shock and anger throughout the valley. To protest against the outrage, the Hurriyat leaders called for a strike and three days of mourning.
Following the call, widespread protests broke out leading to clashes with the security personnel. Despite a police crackdown, suspension of internet and mobile services and imposition of curfew, thousands took to the streets to protest against the killings. A large crowd gathered at Wani's funeral as his body was brought for burial draped in the Pakistani flag. India responded to the protests in Kashmir over the killing of Burhan Wani as it has always done – with further violence, repression and killings.
 The story of Indian atrocities in Kashmir is a long one. New Delhi has been following a policy of rape, murder and torture in order to suppress the freedom struggle in the Valley. Thousands of Kashmiri young men have been murdered and hundreds of thousands have been put in jails where third degree torture is used to break the spirit of freedom seekers.   Delhi has also been trying to change the Valley's demography by bringing in settlers from the outside and creating “sainak colonies”. This has added fuel to the fire of conflict in Kashmir.
All Indian governments, present and past, have given a raw deal to the Kashmiris. It is the colonial attitude that India has adopted towards Kashmir that adds to the frustration of Kashmiri people. India’s harsh methods have only helped to create successive generations of militants and freedom fighters.  India has an unenviable track record of violating fundamental human rights of Kashmiris including their right to life and the right to self-determination. Lack of progress in finding a durable solution to the Kashmir question in accordance with the UN resolutions, the continuing violations of human rights in the Valley and lack of accountability thereof have led to a feeling of frustration and bitterness, especially among the new generation of Kashmiris who are increasingly throwing their weight behind the decades-long indigenous movement for self-determination.
Pakistan has strongly condemned the killings in Kashmir and detention of Kashmiri leaders                   and called upon the Indian government to fulfil its human rights obligations as well as its commitments under the UN resolutions. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has issued a statement supporting the Kashmiri people's right to self-determination in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.
Following the latest outbreak in Kashmir, Pakistan has launched a diplomatic campaign to highlight the misery of the people of Indian-held Kashmir groaning under the Indian military heel. Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry has briefed the ambassadors of China, France, the Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States, expressing Pakistan's serious concern over the recent wave of violence against Kashmiri people. Pakistan ambassadors in all capitals, especially Western countries, are briefing their host governments as well as human rights groups and organisations in their areas of accreditation. Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has addressed letters to the UN Secretary-General, the President of the UN Security Council, the Secretary-General of the OIC, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to express Pakistan's serious concern over the alarming situation in Indian-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. He has drawn the world’s attention to the brutal killings of innocent civilians by the occupying Indian security forces and urged the United Nations to fulfil its responsibility with regard to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, which remains on the agenda of the UN Security Council and is yet to be resolved in accordance with its relevant resolutions.
Kashmir is a universally recognised dispute with numerous UN Security Council resolutions emphasizing the need for its solution. It is not yet too late for the Indian leadership to see reason and come to the negotiating table for a peaceful settlement of a dispute which has been festering for more than 60 years. The unresolved issue of Kashmiris is a hindrance in the progress and prosperity of the peoples of the two countries, and a constant threat to regional stability. In this connection, it would be a good idea to use the good offices of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who has offered to act as a mediator.

Death can kill every one and everything except love, mercy and humanity. Rather, death gives eternal life to those who sacrifice their lives for uplifting humanity and love. Life without love and humanity is barren and meaningless.
While life with love gives meaning to our existence and protects against hodiernal adversity. All great men are lovers of humanity and mercy. They live and die serving humanity, striving for the betterment of people, struggling to preach humanism, fighting against hatred, bigotry, prejudice and ignorance. They sacrifice in performing their duty and work tirelessly to achieve their goal. In short, their love for serving humanity becomes the reason for their existence. 
Certainly,  Abdul Sattar Edhi was a great man, an embodiment of love, mercy, patience, hard work and humanity. Love was his religion. To serve humanity was his faith. His philosophy of life was "love human beings, serve humanity". He acted upon this philosophy throughout his life.
He started his philanthropic work from zero, setting up a small clinic in the Mithadar area of Karachi in 1951, and created one of the world's largest ambulance services . There are around 335 Edhi centres with 2,000 ambulances across the country. The foundation has given shelter to around 50,000 orphaned children and provided homes to over 20,000 unwanted and abandoned babies. Abdul Sattar Edhi is now the father of these nameless innocent children. They are no more fatherless and identity-less in our land. The foundation has around 40,000 trained nurses, who are working and serving people. The foundation has 3,500 workers and thousands of volunteers. Edhi centers are now rendering philanthropic services to the people of other countries like, America, Canada, the Middle East , Nepal, Afghanistan and many other countries of Africa. Edhi’s meritorious services have already been acknowledged across the world. In 1986, Edhi was bestowed with the Ramon Magsaysay Award for public service from the Philippines. The Guinness Book recorded the Edhi Foundation as the largest voluntary ambulance organization in the world in 2000. He was also gifted with the Balzan Prize and the Lenin Peace Prize. He was awarded the Nishan-e-Imtiaz by the Pakistan government. Several times he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. It is a measure of the politicisation of the Nobel Peace Prize, that if anyone in Pakistan had to be awarded that prize, it would be that trumped up symbol of Western propaganda, Malala Yusufzai, instead of Maulana Edhi.
In fact, Edhi is the Abou Ben Adhem of a well-known poem. Adhem earns Allah’s pleasure and love by serving humanity:
“Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said
"What writest thou?"—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still, and said "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men."
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest”. (Anonymous. Submission James Henry Leigh Hunt)
After the demise of Edhi, the world is praising his selfless efforts, devotion, exemplary and missionary life.
The Washington Post writes about Edhi: “Abdul Sattar Edhi was a beacon of hope in a country too often mired in despair. He was an ascetic in a country where politicians regularly skim millions of dollars through corruption; a humanitarian in a country rife with sectarian hatred and violence; and ultimately the provider of public services in a country where the government often fails to provide even the most basic ones, like adequate hospitals and ambulances. In the course of his lifetime, he had gone from being a refugee to running Pakistan's most renowned philanthropic organization, the Edhi Foundation. Established in 1951, the foundation currently runs hospitals, orphanages, morgues, legal aid offices, centers for the abandoned and drug-addicted, and has almost 2,000 ambulances, which it dispatches to the scenes of the terrorist attacks that occur with alarming frequency across the country… Edhi's foundation had no qualms about serving Pakistan's religious minorities. Once, when he was asked why he was okay with his ambulances picking up Christians and Hindus, he snarkily replied, "Because my ambulance is more Muslim than you." Edhi was well known for his minimalist lifestyle. He reportedly had only two pairs of shalwar kameez, the billowy set of clothing commonly worn by men in Pakistan. He collected much of the operating costs for his foundation through donations from regular middle-class people. He would sit cross-legged and they would leave rupee notes near his lap. He slept in a room attached to his foundation's office for most of his life. "Social welfare was my vocation, I had to free it," he said in his autobiography, A Mirror to the Blind.
The Guardian pays tribute to Edhi in these words: “In a country increasingly riven by extremism, Abdul Sattar Edhi, the founder of a vast public welfare organisation that spans Pakistan, was a symbol of the country’s shrivelled secular tradition. Edhi, who has died aged around 90, never turned anyone away from his hospitals, homeless shelters, rehab centres and orphanages. His determination to ignore considerations of creed, cast or sect earned him the hatred of some on the country’s religious right, who accused him of being an atheist. But the public revered him for his lifelong commitment to humanity. Edhi was born in British India but moved to Pakistan six days after it was formed in August 1947. He attended some of the public speeches made by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the anglicised lawyer who led the movement for a Muslim majority state. Like many others hailing from Gujarat, Edhi found himself in Karachi, arriving by boat in the Arabian Sea entrepot that would grow into a megacity of more than 20 million people, racked by ethnic strife. Always hazy about the precise year of his birth, Edhi reckoned he was about 20 when he landed at Karachi’s stinking harbour. He initially worked as a street pedlar, hawking pencils, matches that he would hold on a tray and towels. Later he sold paan, the betel leaf and nut mixture chewed by many in the subcontinent, and then worked for his father who was a trader. But he found his time doing this unsatisfying. He said he felt an urge to do welfare work after “observing the environment I was living in, where injustice, bribery and robbery were common”. He set up his first simple pharmacy offering drugs and basic medical care, regardless of people’s ability to pay, in a tent next to his family home in Jodia bazaar. The area, now a teeming slum, is still the headquarters of the Edhi Foundation, which is run out of a ramshackle building where he lived to the end of his days in a tiny backroom....Edhi’s charitable activities expanded in 1957 when an Asian flu epidemic swept through Karachi. He borrowed money for tents to treat people who were only asked to contribute financially if they could afford it. “It was the first mass recognition of my work,” Edhi later told the journalist Steve Inskeep. A single generous donation from a businessman, a fellow member of the Memon community, allowed Edhi to buy his first ambulance, which he drove himself around the city… Through his work, Edhi met Bilquis Bano, who became his wife and a key figure in the burgeoning charity empire. They worked together during one of the toughest periods of Edhi’s life, the 1965 war between India and Pakistan which saw Karachi bombed. The couple cared for the civilian victims and organised 45 funerals, with Bilquis cleaning the bodies of women and Edhi preparing the men for burial. It was said he washed thousands of dead bodies during his life, with his foundation finding space in its graveyards for anyone who needed it. In the A Mirror to the Blind, he made clear his distaste for anyone who thought themselves too grand to touch the dead.
The Edhi Foundation ultimately became a multimillion-dollar enterprise run directly by Edhi, his wife and their four children...The foundation estimates it transports a million people to hospital each year, charging a tiny fee for the ride. In Karachi, rival gangs have been known to call temporary ceasefires to their gun battles to allow Edhi’s minimally trained ambulance staff to collect the dead and wounded. In a country with a negligible public welfare system Edhi offered cradle-to-grave services… “I have never been a very religious person,” he told the Daily Times newspaper in 2009. “I am neither against religion nor for it.” He found inspiration in socialist writers who lambasted the ruling capitalist class whom he thought were responsible for poverty in the world. And he did not see why work to alleviate suffering should be restricted to Pakistan. In 2005 the Edhi Foundation donated $100,000 to the victims of Hurricane Katrina in the US. “My religion is serving humanity and I believe that all the religions of the world have their basis in humanity,” he said.
It is also a hard fact that our cruel and corrupt ruling elite is not willing to follow the teachings and life of Abdul Sattar Edhi. Although, they have attended the funeral of this great man in the National Stadium with great respect and love, the sole purpose, according to some analysts, was to get attention of the people of Pakistan and associate themselves expediently with the saint  who has earned respect and love among the people by his noble aims and commendable actions. One analyst writes,  “But it is a testament to Abdul Sattar Edhi’s greatness, and to the tragedy of the country he leaves behind, that on the day of his funeral, Pakistan’s credibility-hungry politicians were lining up behind his coffin to bask in some reflected glory”.

Rumours of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s third marriage and subsequent analyses on news channels for days diverted the public attention from the Panama Leaks. It provided a much-needed breathing space to the government to devise its strategy to counter the opposition’s agitation plan.
Marriage is a private issue but personal matters of public figures are discussed in the media all over the world. However, Imran’s wedding was blown out of proportion. Channels accused him of undermining his own movement against the government over the Panama Leaks. Some experts castigated him for tying the knot on the day when Pakistan was mourning the death of its biggest charity worker, Abdul Sattar Edhi. His marriage remained the topic of discussion on all channels despite denials by Imran Khan and other party leaders.
The media speculated about two women who belonged to Pakpattan. It forced a woman’s family to issue a clarification. “Imran Khan has not married in the Manika family,” Khawar Fareed Manika, son of former Federal Minister Ghulam Muhammad Manika, said in a statement. According to the media, Maryam Manika is the sister of Bushra Manika, who is daughter-in-law of Ghulam Muhammad Manika.
When channels continued flashing pictures of women, Imran slammed media outlets for spreading news about his third marriage and sharing pictures of women he “has never met”. “Women’s pictures shown whom I neither know nor ever met. Such disinformation is irresponsible and shows a collapse of moral and ethical standards,” Imran Khan said on Twitter. “Unethical of media to spread false news of my marriage based upon absolute lies. Had that happened in UK heads would have rolled,” he added.
Media reports said Imran had visited Pakpattan thrice in July to meet his would-be bride, Maryam, who is sister of his “spiritual guide.” After it, the PTI media wing clarified that he was spiritually connected to the Manika family of Pakpattan and nothing else. When the statement failed to quell the rumours, Imran issued a clarification through Twitter saying, “Rumours about my marriage are absolutely baseless. I have not gotten married. When I do, I will announce and celebrate publicly.” It failed to impress his critics, who said he had secretly married twice and this time too.
There may be many elements behind the speculations, but Imran himself played some part in it when in an interview to the Hindustan Times, he said, “It is not in my blood to give up,” to a query about his marriage. The report said even after two divorces, Imran Khan will not give up the idea of marrying again and is actually thinking about it even more these days. “It’s not in my blood to give up. But it takes a lot … (the idea of marriage) is even more open than before. But marrying at 60 is not like marrying at 30,” Imran said in the interview, which was also reproduced in the Pakistani media, after which speculations started.
“Bachelor life is a superficial existence. I would always choose married life. Because bachelor life is: all that glitters is not gold. It is very shallow and empty. It is a superficial existence. You cause a lot of pain. As a bachelor there were a lot of heartaches, and I regret that. I am 63 years old and have been married for only 10 years, but I am more of a staunch believer of marriage now after two divorces than I ever was,” he added. The lengthy interview was analyzed from all angles on Pakistani channels and speculations started about his would-be wife. Some claimed he had already tied the knot and would make it public later. The channels also refused to accept his clarification on the grounds that he had denied his marriage with Reham Khan till the end.
The PTI had to file a complaint with the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) against TV channels when they continued airing the news about his third marriage. Imran may recover from the malicious propaganda soon but the women and their families, whose pictures were flashed with him, will feel embarrassment for a long time.
According to sources, the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) Media Cell had spread rumours of the third marriage of Imran Khan to divert the attention of the people from the Panama Leaks and malign him. It is alleged the story was set up at the Social Media Cell of the PML-N at the Prime Minister’s House, led by Maryam Nawaz Sharif. Some analysts of news channels were hired to launch a smear campaign against Imran to defame him and make him controversial ahead of his possible agitation against the Nawaz Sharif government. According to sources, services of some TV channels, editors of English-language and Urdu dailies were hired for spreading rumours about his marriage. Questions were also raised on his morality, without realizing that there is nothing immoral in marriage.
PTI Secretary General Jahangir Khan Tareen in his tweet confirmed the smear campaign by some sections of the media against Imran Khan looked like the government’s hidden ploy to divert attention from the Panama Leaks.
Imran’s first two marriages and splits were flashed by the media all over the world. However, the foreign media has always been careful and responsible about its reporting. The Pakistani media has crossed all limits of decency and respect for public privacy. Pictures of different women were carried by the media, in a bid to take the lead from others. The campaign has not done much harm to Imran and his politics, but the women and their families will remain disturbed for long. If it had happened in a civilized country, the media would have faced many defamation suits for millions of dollars. In Pakistan, the channels can defame anybody at their will. They will get away with it too. They will apologize to Imran, at most, on the orders of PEMRA. The women they named will not be compensated. They should at least tender an apology to them.
In a tribal society like Pakistan, where “honour” killings are common, women should be treated more respectfully and the government should make laws to protect their rights and privacy. Defamation laws should also be made more effective to stop the media from launching smear campaigns against their targets.

The observance of the World Population Day last week once again focused attention on what is described as the ticking time bomb of demographic explosion. Every year, the day comes as a reminder that we are not doing enough to control the rising population which is putting unbearable strains on the world’s limited resources.
In 1989, the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme recommended that 11 July be observed by the international community as World Population Day, a day to raise awareness on the urgency and importance of population issues. The decision was sparked by the public interest in Five Billion Day on July 11, 1987- the date on which the world’s population rose to five billion people.
The theme for this year is “Investing in teenage girls.” In his remarks on the day, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: “Despite significant gains made in reducing poverty and improving opportunity and well-being for many people around the world, hundreds of millions remain desperate for a chance of a better future. Among the least served by previous development initiatives are girls, particularly those in their formative teenage years.” It is true that many teenage girls around the world face enormous challenges, and many are forced into early marriages, thereby damaging their future prospects. Statistics show that more than 13 million teenage girls around the world are forced by their families and communities into marriage annually.
Even among girls who stay in school, access to basic information about their health, human rights and reproductive rights is not available, leaving them vulnerable to illness, injury and exploitation. It has been found that when teenage girls are empowered, when they know about their rights and are given the tools to succeed, they become agents of positive change in their communities. UNFPA's programmes aim to end child marriage, curb adolescent pregnancy, and to empower girls to make informed choices about their health and lives. In 2015 alone, UNFPA programmes helped 11.2 million girls between the ages of 10 and 19 to gain access to sexual and reproductive health services and information.
There is a special significance attached to the annual observance of World Population Day. The world’s population is rising fast. Despite two world wars, tyranny and famines, the world saw the biggest increase in its population in human history in the 20th century, due to decreasing mortality rates made possible by medical advances and increases in agricultural productivity. The world population is predicted to hit the seven billion mark on 31 October this year.
In the year 1000 AD, the world population was only 400 million. In 1750 AD, 750 years later, the population was 800 million.. The world’s population reached one billion in 1804. It took 123 years to reach two billion. The population grew faster and the next billion was reached in 1959. In 1974, the population reached four billion and in 1987, it reached five billion. The population reached six billion in 1999, and in 2011 it was close to seven billion. Experts say the world’s population will increase by another 4 billion by 2100. Based on the medium projection of the UN, the number of people in the world will reach 8 billion by 2025, 9 billion by 2043, and then 10 billion by 2083.
A challenging aspect of the rising demographic pressure is that most of the population increase is taking place in the poorest countries of the world. A large part of the projected 10.1 billion population at the end of the 21st century is expected from 58 high-fertility countries in Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Latin America. Rising population is closely related to poverty. More than four billion people live in poverty. Estimates say that of the people living in poverty around the world, one billion are children. Earlier this year, it was reported that the world’s 62 richest people now owned as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population, which is more than 3.5 billion people. Taiwan has the lowest poverty rate in the world with only 1.5 percent, followed by Malaysia at 3.8 percent and Ireland at 5.5 percent.
Like other parts of the world, World Population Day was also observed in Pakistan last week aimed at raising awareness about the problems of rapidly increasing population. The demographic pressure in Pakistan is constantly on the rise. According to a recent report issued by the United Nations, Pakistan has been identified as the sixth most populous country in the world, and it is estimated that Pakistan will become the fifth most populous country by the Year 2050 with the expected population of 342 million. According to the Pakistan Population Council, Pakistan today is among the world’s top 10 most populous countries, including China, India, United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia and Japan.
Most Muslim countries, such as Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia and Turkey, recognising the negative impact of rapid growth of population on development, have taken concrete measures to meet the challenge. As compared to Pakistan, the population growth rate in Muslim countries is much lower due to better family planning usage. A report by the Pakistan Population Council says that the total demand for family planning services among married woman in the country is 70 percent, but only 30 percent are currently using family planning services. Pakistan is leading in population growth rate with 1.89 percent as compared to Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Turkey, and Malaysia with a growth rate between 1.2 to 1.6 percent. Every year, 3.7 million people are being added to Pakistan’s population.
Needless to say, the imbalance between resources and rapid population growth is the key challenge facing the country. This results in rampant unemployment, poor health, insufficient nutrition and many other social problems. Rapid population growth poses myriad economic and social challenges. According to a report, 24 million children in Pakistan remain out of school as the government is unable to provide buildings, teachers and other related facilities for the growing numbers. Access to health care for all remains a distant dream while a severe water crisis looms in the days ahead.
For Pakistan, better population management is the need of the hour. A better balance between population and resources is imperative for sustained development and progress. A stronger and healthier society can be built by providing girls with better education and health facilities, ensuring women to have a voice in family decisions, and providing them with opportunities for economic freedom. Laws regarding the legal age for marriage for girls need to be strictly implemented. The religious scholars and the media also have to play a more pro-active role to educate the masses on the deeply entrenched traditional and cultural beliefs that cause families to continue to reproduce without any thought of social and economic consequences.

The commission which was appointed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in December 2015, to suggest final recommendations about the political and constitutional status of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) would soon be presenting its report to the prime minister.
The commission is chaired by Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and includes Minister for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), Lt. General (R) Abdul Qadir Baloch, former governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan, PM’s Adviser on National Security Lieutenant General (R) Nasser Khan Janjua and Federal Minister Zahid Hamid as it members.
According to Sartaz Aziz, the commission members have completed visits to all the seven agencies of FATA and have met various stakeholders, including tribal elders, government officials, and members of civil society of FATA, among others. The commission was formed after a heated debate in the country about the future constitutional and political status of FATA. Because, according to various stakeholders, experts and observers, the present political and constitutional arrangement of FATA has been the underlying reason for the multidimensional problems there. Therefore, political and constitutional changes were necessary. We have also been arguing in these lines that the indeterminate political and constitutional status has been contributing to the crisis and conflict in FATA. Because it has resulted in a power vacuum and the militant and terrorist groups of all hues took full advantage of the situation to make the region their fiefdom. Fortunately, our emphasis in these lines have been lent an ear to by the government of Pakistan.
The formation of a commission to suggest to the government the required and best suited political and constitutional changes in FATA was extremely important in the context of the military Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan and rest of FATA. According to military authorities in Pakistan, Operation Zarb-e-Azb is in its last stages and there has been a general restoration of the state writ in FATA after more than a decade of conflict. Then the Temporary Displaced Persons (TDPs) from FATA, which number more than three to four million individuals, have to be completely repatriated before the end of the current year. So after the military operations there ought to be post-conflict stabilization in FATA and in this regard the most important measure is to determine the exact constitutional and political status of FATA. This would provide the framework for further reforms and development.
At the moment FATA constitutes a region which is directly ruled from Islamabad with civil servants hailing from the adjoining Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, including officers domiciled in FATA. Governor KPK is head of the administration of FATA and acts as the agent of the federal government for FATA. In other words the governor, who is titular head of KPK, basically oversees the administrative affairs of FATA. Importantly, FATA is neither a province nor a federating unit of Pakistan, while the laws passed by the parliament of Pakistan are not enforceable there, as the superior courts of Pakistan, according to the constitution of Pakistan, do not have any jurisdiction in FATA. Instead the day-to-day administrative affairs of FATA are run through the British Colonial era legal framework, the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR). Constitutionally, the president of Pakistan is authorized to extend any set of laws to the tribal areas, or change their political or administrative position. All this shows that FATA has hitherto been a political and legal hotchpotch.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Al Qaeda and other local and foreign militant and terrorist groups like Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) etc., with their unprecedented terrorism in Pakistan have completely changed the ground situation in the tribal areas. The moth-eaten legal and administrative system of FATA has been given a decisive blow by the insurgency. So in the post-conflict situation the region needs a complete new set of political, legal and administrative structures.
There are four main options before the FATA Reforms Commission, and even generally. These include elevating the status of FATA to that of a province; merging FATA with KPK; Creating a FATA council a la Gilgit-Baltistan, or maintaining the status quo. While one does not know what would be the final recommendation of the FRC, but the two most viable options are: giving the tribal areas the status of a province or create a FATA Council. The best case scenario would be to make FATA a new province. However, if due to capacity issues it is not possible immediately, then practically there is no other option but to form a FATA Council like in Gilgit-Baltistan. Eventually, the ultimate solution to the crisis in FATA would be to give them the status of a province. Hopefully, the FRC under Sartaz Aziz would make the same recommendation.
In case it is recommended that FATA should be merged with KP province, then this would be tantamount to inviting disaster. This is despite the fact that a small but vocal section of FATA civil society,  the FATA Political Alliance, is trying to impose its desire of merging FATA with KPK. The Pakthun nationalist Awami National Party (ANP) has also been campaigning for merging FATA with KPK. While a sizable majority of FATA’s social leadership is against it. The most intriguing aspect and demand of merging FATA with the KPK is that the people of KPK observably are almost entirely against the merger. Therefore, if the FRC and the government even have to take the decision of merging FATA with KPK, they must first hold a referendum in both FATA and KPK.
If this does not transpire, the merger would sow the seeds of future conflict between residents of FATA and residents of KPK. Equally importantly the merger of FATA with KPK would result in a big province that would be too unwiedly to manage. Since long, people of FATA and, particularly, since the creation of KPK (formerly NWFP) in 1901 by the British colonial rulers of India, the tribal areas have been dependent for most of their basic needs on KPK.
Merger would make FATA entirely dependent upon KPK and in the process this would be an unbearable burden on the small economy and infrastructure of KPK. The ANP has been supporting merger of FATA with KPK in order to fulfill its desire of extending its parochial political constituency without calculating the risk involved which no government will manage.
Whereas the exponents within FATA civil society, of merger of FATA with KPK, are only pursuing their vested professional and financial interests as they do not have the platform to pursue their careers in FATA. But they fail to understand that if FATA gets the status of a province, they would have the very forums and institutions which would provide them best opportunities to develop their careers.
Keeping in view the merits of different options for political and constitutional reforms in FATA, making FATA a separate province is the best option, while the other viable option is to create a FATA Council.

The United States and Russia announced a tentative deal on Friday, July 15, to coordinate airstrikes against the Islamic State and the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.
Secretary of State John Kerry, after talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, said an internationally brokered cease-fire in Syria had been undermined by two problems: bombings by the Syrian government and attacks by the Nusra Front.
“We agreed to steps that, if implemented in good faith, can address two serious problems that I just described about the cessation” of hostilities, Mr. Kerry said.
“It is possible to help restore the cessation of hostilities, significantly reduce violence and help create the space for a genuine political transition,” he said.
But Mr. Kerry refused to list the terms of the agreement.
“The concrete steps that we have agreed on are not going to be laid out in public in some long list,” he said, “because we want them to work and because they need more work in order to work. I want to emphasize, though, that they are not based on trust,” but on specific steps that needed to be taken by both sides.
Critics said the lack of details raised suspicions that Mr. Kerry had conceded too much.
“The fact no details were announced indicates whatever was agreed was hard to swallow and may be hard to implement, especially in light of the attempted coup in Turkey,” said Andrew J. Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, referring to events in Turkey on July 15.
Before Mr. Kerry’s talks in Moscow, a proposed agreement had called for the creation of a joint military command center staffed by military and intelligence officers who would share information so as to permit “integrated operations.” The proposal generated deep unease at the Pentagon and in some quarters of the State Department, where the plan was seen as too conciliatory to both the Russians and the Syrian president,Bashar al-Assad.
Mr. Kerry left his meeting with Mr. Lavrov to pitch his proposed deal to the Obama administration’s top national security officials through a secure communications link at the nearby United States Embassy. After discussing the deal with the officials, Mr. Kerry returned to the bargaining table and asked most of the aides from both countries to leave so he could speak more directly with Mr. Lavrov.
The agreement has also raised alarms because it might lead the United States to support or even participate in strikes against groups fighting Mr. Assad. One of the great complications of the Syrian civil war is figuring out which groups should be considered rebels focused on ousting the Assad government — a goal the United States supports — and which groups are aligned with Al Qaeda or the Islamic State, both of which Washington has designated as terrorist organizations and has vowed to defeat.
The Nusra Front has been one of the most effective anti-Assad forces, and American-backed rebel groups often coordinate their activities with its units. In Russia’s view, that means that Washington is effectively supporting the Nusra Front and that the American-backed groups are legitimate targets. So a joint campaign against the group not only would appear to concede Russia’s point, but could also bring American firepower to bear against the strongest anti-Assad military force and a sometime partner of Washington’s allies.
Mr. Kerry made clear that defeating the Nusra Front was a major American priority.
“So if some critic is criticizing the United States or Russia for going after Al Nusra, which is a terrorist organization, because they’re good fighters against Assad, they have their priorities completely screwed up,” Mr. Kerry said. “The fact is that Nusra is plotting against countries in the world. What happened in Nice last night could just as well come from Nusra or wherever it came from as any other entity. Because that’s what they do.”
Mr. Lavrov said that supporting terrorist organizations would always lead to disaster.
“There were cases in history when some countries were trying to play with extremist and terrorist groups, hoping to use them to achieve their own geopolitical goals to topple undesirable regimes,” Mr. Lavrov said. He referred to American support for the mujahedeen in Afghanistan, which he said led to the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.
The other complication is that the Syrians and the Russians have routinely undermined previous cease-fires and other measures to spare civilian lives. In just the past week, the Syrian Army has announced cease-fires, only to conduct a military campaign around the rebel-held section of Aleppo, leaving about 300,000 people besieged.
Government forces are also advancing on the Damascus suburb of Daraya, one of the first areas to revolt against the government. In recent days, a refugee camp near the border with Jordan was bombed, and civilians were killed. It is not known who carried out the operation.
When asked whether Russia had violated previous cease-fire agreements, Mr. Lavrov said, “A lot could be said on who is to blame.”
The proposed agreement with the Russians, first reported by The Washington Post, would create a joint command center in Jordan to coordinate an intensified bombing campaign against the two militant groups. Both Russia and the United States have been attacking the Islamic State, though acting separately, with minimal coordination to avoid unintended conflict between their warplanes. Yet most of Russia’s airstrikes have been aimed not at the Islamic State but at other groups fighting Mr. Assad, including the Nusra Front and American-backed rebel groups.
The United States has carried out occasional strikes against what have been described as senior Qaeda figures in Syria. But it has refrained from systematic attacks against the Nusra Front, whose ranks are heavily Syrian, including many who left less extreme rebel groups because Nusra was better armed and financed.
The United States proposal states that American and Russian officials would share information on the locations of rebel groups to ensure that strikes aimed at Nusra did not hit American-backed groups. In the past, those groups — as well as some American officials — have worried that Russia might use that information to target them.
Mr. Kerry said Friday’s tentative agreement would not resolve anything immediately. “So we’re not here promising the world,” Mr. Kerry said. “Not here tonight to suggest that overnight things are going to change.” But he said the deal, if carried out in good faith, “has the opportunity to change the playing field significantly.”
“Let the proof be in the pudding, not our words,” he said.


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