ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) may have their differences, but they appear to be on the same page as far as the proposed merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is concerned.
Recently, in a rare expression of unity some federal government officials held low-key meetings with senior functionaries of the K-P government who assured the Centre of their support to the government’s initiatives to merge Fata with K-P.
While the PTI-led K-P government is reportedly assuring the federal government of its support in the merger, the federal government is facing opposition from its coalition partners and some senior N-Leaguers who believe that the move would politically support PTI.
“This is quite a paradox as on one hand an opposition party like PTI supports the federal government on Fata’s merger, while on the other, PML-N faces resistance from within its own ranks and coalition partners,” a government official told The Express Tribune.
The federal government officials led by PM’s Political Adviser Ameer Muqam recently held meetings for the merger with some of the aides to K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, it is learnt.
Reportedly, the matter has not been officially discussed between senior leaderships of PTI and PML-N, but the ruling lot at the Centre has been told through backdoor contacts that PTI would extend all possible support in parliament should the federal government introduce the merger bill.
K-P CM’s Political Adviser and PTI Regional President MPA Zar Gul Khan confirmed the development.
“Fata’s merger with K-P implies that 23 additional seats need to be created in the K-P Assembly for Fata’s representation. We are ready to do that. It requires the passage of related bills by parliament and the K-P Assembly. We are not only more than willing to get the said bill passed by our provincial assembly, but we will support the same in parliament. It’s the federal government that is using delaying tactics because they have stakes in the status quo,” he told The Express Tribune.
“The political agents who control tribal agencies and frontier regions best serve the interests of federal government and so does the entire existing system in Fata. This is why the proposed merger of Fata with K-P gets delayed on one pretext or another. For the betterment of millions of people of Fata, we demand that the merger be done as early as possible,” he added.
Following recent deliberations between the Centre and K-P, the PM House issued a statement on Thursday, which used the word ‘merger’ for Fata for the first time in the recent past. Previously, the government had used ‘mainstreaming’ in the official press releases due to opposition from coalition partners.
“Reiterating commitment for the merger of Fata, the prime minister had said that work on creating an enabling environment and taking required legal and administrative measures for this purpose was being done on a fast-track basis,” said the statement issued after PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s meeting with K-P Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra.