A short note on Pakistani laws on indigenous and tribal persons

By Pir Abdul Wahid (Advocate)

Local Laws

Basically, the Government of Pakistan does not recognize indigenous peoples in Pakistan. Any reference to them is made with the term “tribal”. As such there is no specific policy on the indigenous and tribal peoples. Under special administrative arrangement in FATA and PATA, the Government has been running the affairs of some tribal areas through regulations or laws enacted during the British rule.

These laws are as follows:

The Frontier Crime Regulations, 1901 (Regulation III of 1901) provide for the suppression of crime in certain frontier districts (i.e. divisions of Quetta and Kalat, district of Lasbela, Nasirabad Sub-Division of Jacobabad district, the added areas of the Hazara and Mardan district, and former excluded areas of Upper Tanavaland, the Baluch area of Dera Ghazi Khan).

The Pakistan (Punjab Boundary) Order 1950 merged the Baluch tribal area of Suleiman mountains into Punjab (district Dera Ghazi Khan) as a de-Excluded Area.

International treaties on indigenous people and environmental issues (including declarations and conventions) which have been ratified by Pakistan

The only international convention specific to indigenous and tribal peoples which Pakistan has ratified (in 1960) is the “ILO Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Populations” (Convention No. 107). The implementation of the convention, however, could not go beyond some service delivery in tribal areas. Pakistan has so far not signed the updated the ILO Convention 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples. In 2007 the country voted for the approval of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the UN General Assembly.

The core international human rights instruments, treaties and conventions signed and ratified by Pakistan are:

  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Signed on 3 November 2004 and ratified on 17 April 2008).
  • International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Signed on 19 September 1966 and ratified on 21 September 1966).
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Signed on 17 April 2008 and ratified on 23 June 2010).
  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Accession on 12 March 1996).
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child
(Signed on 20 September 1990, ratified on 12 November 1990).
  • Biological Diversity Act, 2007 (Access to Biological Resources and Community Rights Act 2007).

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