PESHAWAR: Chief Minister Pervez Khattak assured all possible support to the FATA Political Alliance for the merger of the tribal areas with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
A delegation of the FATA Political Alliance held a meeting with Khattak at his official residence in the city where they discussed the all-important reforms.
The delegation members, including alliance president Nisar Mohmand and noted lawyer Latif Afridi, gave a detailed briefing to Khattak on the draft of the FATA reforms which was prepared by the federal government.
A press release issued by the alliance stated that the chief minister endorsed the demands of the alliance to merge Fata with K-P.
He said the federal government should take steps to give representation to Fata in the K-P Assembly after the 2018 general elections.
Both parties agreed that the jurisdictions of the high court and Supreme Court should extend to the tribal areas and the Constitution of 1973 should be implemented. It was suggested that Article 247 be repealed and powers be vested in parliament rather than an individual.
The Chief Minister House handout, issued after the meeting, quoted Khattak as saying that reforms should portray the wishes and demands of tribespeople. “If FATA is to be merged into K-P, it should be merged before 2018,” the statement said.
“The tribal agencies should be rescinded and each agency should be given the status of a district unit,” said the chief minister. Khattak did not agree to certain points of the reforms draft, including the prevalence Article 247 for a period of five years. He demanded repealing the article altogether.
The alliance participants said it was more crucial to amend Article 106 by increasing the number of seats in the K-P Assembly rather than changing articles 246 and 247.
The chief minister stated Fata would get benefits from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and other perks when it is merged with K-P. Khattak added the merger was essential before 2018 because only then would local bodies be extended to the tribal areas. He wanted to see authority transferred to the grass-root level in the tribal belt.
The CM said there should be amendments in the constitution so that the tribal areas have the same developmental strategy as evolved for the province. Khattak added the objective behind the merger was to establish the writ of the government and bring about a change in the overall prosperity and development of tribespeople. He assured complete support for the merger.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2016.