FATA reforms bill set to be tabled in NA

PM chairs cabinet meeting on merger of Fata with K-P

Riazul Haq May 17, 2018
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. PHOTO: RADIO PAKISTAN

ISLAMABAD: Despite staunch opposition from two of the ruling party’s allies, the federal cabinet on Thursday finally gave the go-ahead to tabling reforms bill for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the National Assembly that includes the merger of the tribal areas with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in one year.

The cabinet unanimously approved moving the bill on Fata reforms in the National Assembly as promised by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi earlier this month that “this government will take reforms to its logical conclusion during the current tenure of assemblies”.

The firm decision has come a day after one of the major stumbling blocks to Fata’s merger— Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman — came down hard on the government in the National Assembly and termed the integration of Fata ‘a global conspiracy’.

Sources confirmed that the Fata reforms bill is likely to be tabled as the ‘Thirtieth Amendment Bill, 2017’ on Friday that includes a comprehensive package and timeline for its implementation.

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PM’s Special Assistant on Law Zafarullah Khan told The Express Tribune that the government was all set to present the reforms bill in parliament. Khan has been involved in the formation and set the tone and tenor of the bill as well.

According to Khan, as per the bill elections for provincial lawmakers will be held within one year and right after that Fata would become part of K-P.

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“The controversial Frontier Crimes Regulations will be abolished and it will be replaced with an interim governance system till the inclusion of the region with K-P,” he stated.

Further elaborating the proposed bill, Khan added that right after the passage of the amendment about 150 new laws of Pakistan would get implemented in Fata and after the merger, all the laws of rest of Pakistan would be effective in the tribal areas.

“The bill will abolish the system of political agents,” he said, adding the document has already been shared with the political parties for consensus.

He was of the view that the decision would be taken after a consensus of all parties.

The prime minister has held four meetings during the last two weeks with heads of parliamentary parties but so far the JUI-F and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) had been opposing the merger.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement also recently joined the two allies of the government and demanded a referendum in the tribal areas.

The JUI-F chief on Wednesday claimed the government was taking the decision of the amendment under pressure from the international powers -- including the United Nations -- and he warned that anarchy would engulf the areas and jeopardise peace established in the region.

PM Abbasi had announced that the local government elections would be carried out in Fata in October 2018 while Fata reforms would be implemented gradually.

Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch also announced in the house on Friday that the Fata reforms package included infrastructure development, the establishment of courts, deployment of Frontier Constabulary and allocation of 3% share from the federal divisible pool in the National Finance Commission award.

However, Rs100 billion promised for Fata annually as per the plan has to be provided for 10 years.

This has to come through the divisible pool, but except for Balochistan, no province was ready to share their pie with Fata.



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