ISLAMABAD -- Hundreds of people from Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) rallied in Islamabad Monday (October 9) calling on the government to abolish colonial-era British laws and merge the semi-autonomous region with the rest of the country.
The seven districts in FATA, home to about 5 million people, mostly ethnic Pashtuns, are still governed by a century-old legal code known as the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR).
The FCR includes the practice of collective punishment, allowing government authorities to hold entire clans responsible for the crimes of individuals.
Pakistan's government has approved reforms abolishing the FCR and implementing national laws in the region, where militants once operated with impunity.
But the changes are being delayed by political squabbles as Pakistan gears up for a general election due sometime next year.
"We are here to press the government to abolish the FCR law and extend the jurisdiction of Pakistani courts to FATA," said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, one of the speakers at the rally and a leader of the Awami National Party (ANP).
"More than 90% of tribesmen also want to merge the tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP)," Hussain said as up to 2,000 tribesmen shouted slogans such as "Go FCR Go" and "We demand merger of FATA in KP".
Shahabuddin Khan, a tribal lawmaker from Bajaur District, said they would continue pressuring the government until the FCR was abolished and the tribal areas were fully incorporated into the rest of Pakistan.