SHABQADAR: The group of six Independent MNAs from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) has split over differing views on the Fata reforms process, raising the likelihood that the process would get delayed even further.
On Saturday, three MNAs – former minister GG Jamal, Bilal Rehman and Bismillah Khan – refused to accept Shahjee Gul Afridi as their parliamentary leader in the National Assembly, and expressed confidence in the leadership of MNA Nasir Khan.
Afridi – who is in favour of Fata’s merger with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa – now only enjoys support from MNA Sajjad Hussain Turi. While the other group of four led by Nasir opposes merger with K-P.
FATA reforms shelved indefinitely yet again
Besides the six independent members, five more National Assembly members hail from Fata -- three belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and one each from the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Those belonging to the PML-N are Shahab Uddin Khan, Nazir Khan and Ghalib Khan while Jamaluddin and Qaisar Jamal are respectively associated with the JUI-F and the PTI.
Meanwhile, a notification for Nasir’s election as the new parliamentary leader of the independent group could not be issued because under the National Assembly’s rules and regulations, he requires support of six Fata lawmakers out of total 11.
Fata reforms: Tribal MPs weighing several options to pressure govt
Supporting the stance of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman for a self-governing Fata, the independent MNAs have shown their disappointment over Afridi’s move of openly lobbying for the merger of Fata with K-P -- with Turi and PML-N’s Shahab by his side.
Apart from the independent MNAs, a JUI-F MNA and two PML-N MNAs also have reservations over the Fata reforms. This is evident from the fact that while Afridi, Shahab and Turi were protesting for a merger during the June 1 presidential address to parliament, they took no part in the protest.
An independent group’s MNA, requesting anonymity, said, “Afridi’s decision about his campaign to merge Fata with K-P is the bone of contention for most of the Fata MNAs.”
Reforms delay: FATA alliance gives call for protests
He said Afridi never took them into confidence over the matter as most of the Fata MNAs were opposing the merger. He added that they were demanding broad-based reforms or independent status for Fata instead of a merger with K-P.
In the wake of this split among Fata lawmakers, the reforms process is sure to get delayed as at present only three MNAs – Afridi, Shahab and Turi – are campaigning for Fata’s merger with K-P while the rest are resisting the move.
This divide among the Fata lawmakers will give the government the much-needed excuse to delay the Fata reforms process till after the general election 2018.
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