Bill introduced in parliament to extend top court, IHC's jurisdiction to FATA

Published: September 15, 2017
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National Assembly. PHOTO: APP

National Assembly. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: A bill was introduced in the National Assembly on Friday for extending the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court (SC) and the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to the country’s tribal areas.

Shortly after presenting the bill, which is part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) reforms, the fifth sitting of the ongoing session of the assembly was adjourned for the fourth consecutive day over lack of quorum.

The lack of quorum was pointed out by Mahmood Khan Achakzai, the chief of Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and an ally of the government.

Currently, the 46th session of the lower house of the parliament is in progress and is likely to be prorogued on the 21st of this month.

Achakzai and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman have been opposing Fata reforms whenever they are tabled in the assembly. Fazl had also opposed the Fata reforms package in the assembly in May this year.

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When the bill was introduced, Achakzai said:  “If the government wants to introduce this bill then I want to point out the [lack of] quorum.”

The chair had to order a headcount of the lawmakers, leading to adjournment of the sitting till 3pm on Monday.

The treasury members seemed unhappy over the pointing out of the quorum and some of them were confused as to who had actually done so.

In fact, a few of them thought Dr Shireen Mazari of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had pointed it out. However, Dr Mazari responded: “Why are you blaming me for pointing out the quorum. It was your ally [Achakzai] who pointed it out. Vent out your anger at him if you want.”

The bill, titled ‘Extension of Jurisdictions to Federally Administered Tribal Areas Bill, 2017′, was moved in the house by Law Minister Zahid Hamid. The federal cabinet had cleared the bill for its introduction in the parliament during its meeting on Tuesday.

The main objective of the bill is to bring the people of Fata into the mainstream in accordance with their wishes and aspirations.

The objectives and the reasons of the bill read that it is necessary that the jurisdiction of the top court and the IHC be extended to the tribal areas for safeguarding its residents’ rights and providing them with proper administration of justice in accordance with the Constitution.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led government has been facing trouble in meeting the required number of lawmakers to run the house. The change of leadership in the lower house of the parliament has further compounded the problem.

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The National Assembly met for an hour and five minutes and Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq presided over the sitting for over 40 minutes. Later, the proceedings were chaired by Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi.  The leader of the house (the prime minister) and the leader of the opposition did not attend the sitting.

The house was unable to take up two government bills, a motion under Rule 259 and a motion of thanks on the agenda. Seven of the 40 starred questions were responded to by the treasury and the lawmakers also asked 20 supplementary questions. The house also did not take up two call attention notices on the agenda.

In the Question Hour, the National Assembly was informed that the government had taken a number of steps to tackle the issues which were surfacing in the country because of the global climate change.

Responding to a question, the cabinet secretariat’s parliamentary secretary, Raja Muhammad Javed Ikhlas, informed the house that the government had ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in November last year.

He said under the Prime Minister’s Green Pakistan Programme, Rs3.65 billion had been allocated for the revival of forestry resources and the conservation of biodiversity.

He added that over Rs1 billion had also been allocated for wildlife conservation.

Besides, he said, the National Forest Policy had also been approved by the Council of Common Interests.

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