Governor’s appointment: ‘Discriminatory’ law challenged by Fata lawyers
PESHAWAR, Feb 15: Amid controversy over the appointment of the new Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor, two lawyers from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas on Friday moved the Peshawar High Court against the constitutional provision under which a person could become the constitutional head of a province only if he/she was a registered voter and resident of that province.
Lawyers Ijaz Mohmand and Taj Mahal Afridi have jointly filed a writ petition in the court requesting to declare Article 101 (2) of the Constitution, amended through the Constitution (18th Amendment) Act, 2010, as unconstitutional, discriminatory and
against the interests of around 10 million Fata population.
The respondents in the petition are the federal of Pakistan and the federal law division.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Engineer Shaukatullah, who has taken oath of his office on Feb 10, is the first governor from tribal areas after the enactment of the Constitution (18th Amendment) Act, 2010.
In the 2008 elections, he was elected MNA from Bajaur Agency and was subsequently made a federal minister.
According to the Election Commission record, he has been a registered voter at Nawagai in Bajaur Agency.
The appointment of Engineer Shaukatullah has already been challenged in the high court with two writ petitions seeking decision to declare the appointment unconstitutional and illegal.
The petitions are filed by freelancer Shahid Orakzai and senior lawyer Gohar Rehman Khattak.
In the present petition the two petitioners, who are also members of Fata Lawyers Forum, contended that through 18th Amendment, dozens of provisions of the constitution were amended including Article 101 (2).
They said the post-amendment Article 101 (2) states: “A person shall not be appointed a governor unless he is qualified to be elected as a member of the National Assembly and is not less than thirty-five years of age and is a registered voter and resident of the Province concerned.”
Prior to the amendment, they added, citizen from any part of the country could be appointed as a governor in a province.
They argued that during passage of the said amendment, the said provision had not been discussed and nobody bothered to think about the rights of the tribesman.
The petitioners added that as the prime responsibility of the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was related to tribal areas, it was discriminatory on part of parliament to make the said amendment while completely ignoring a vast population.
The petitioners said under Article 1 of the Constitution, Fata was part of Pakistan but it had been ignored in Article 101.
They asked what the status of tribal people was when they could not be appointed as governor of any of the provinces.