ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet under the chair of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi approved placement of draft constitutional amendment bill before Parliament for the merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The government is expected to table the said constitutional amendment in the National Assembly on Thursday.
Official sources told The Express Tribune that PM Abbasi directed cabinet members to reach out to ‘maximum number of lawmakers’ to ensure their attendance in the assembly for today’s session in order to have the said constitutional amendment passed.
Currently, the government is faced with lack of quorum that has led to adjournment of several sessions, making it a challenging task to have an amendment passed that requires a two-thirds majority. If passed, the revision would then seek the Senate’s nod before being signed into law by the president.
In a related move, PM Abbasi chaired a meeting of parliamentary leaders and representatives of all the mainstream political parties in his chamber. Interestingly, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Mehmood Khan Achakzai, the two frontline allies of the federal government, did not attend the meeting nor anyone from their respective parties showed up at the huddle. It is learnt that the meeting participants assured Abbasi their political parties’ complete support to constitutional amendment for FATA’s merger with K-P.
Earlier on Saturday, Abbasi had chaired the meeting of National Security Committee attended by top military and civilian government officials which directed the ministries concerned to “work out the constitutional, legal and administrative modalities” for the merger in consultation with all parliamentary parties. The NSC also endorsed provision of “additional well-monitored development funds” for FATA during the next 10 years, with a stipulation that these funds would not be re-appropriated to any other area of K-P.
Meanwhile, the federal cabinet approved revision to the salary of president of Pakistan. Official sources said that Cabinet Division recommended fixing the basic salary of the president at Rs850,500, equivalent to that of the Chief Justice of Pakistan. With a slight amendment, the cabinet approved fixing the basic salary at Rs850,501, on grounds that the president is the country’s highest ranking official in terms of protocol and his salary was kept ‘higher’ than CJP by a margin of ‘one rupee,’ sources said.
Officials said cabinet also endorsed the NSC’s decision that Gilgit-Baltistan Council will be retained as advisory body towards functions of the federal government. The NSC in Saturday’s meeting had approved devolution of greater administrative and financial powers to the G-B government and “grant of a five-year tax holiday to create adequate incentives for development of the region and bring it at par with other areas of Pakistan.”
Other important decisions approved by the cabinet included ratification of an agreement between Pakistan and Bosnia on co-operation in defence industry. The meeting also approved re-constitution of the Board of Directors of Pakistan National Shipping Corporation, Karachi and also granted ex-post facto approval for appointment of chairman PNSC.
Similarly, maximum retail prices of drugs were also approved during the meeting along with OGRA Gas Rules, 2018. The federal cabinet also approved National Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Policy, Digital Pakistan Policy, nomination of private sector members for the Board of Directors of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan.