No more Fata or Pata likely

Published: May 24, 2018
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Tribal areas. PHOTO: REUTERS

Tribal areas. PHOTO: REUTERS

Tribal areas. PHOTO: REUTERS PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: The 31st constitutional amendment is not only aimed at merging the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) but also at merging the Provincial Administered Tribal Areas (Pata) with their respective provinces of K-P and Balochistan.

A copy of the draft amendment available with The Express Tribune shows that parts of Pata in Malakand Division will be merged into K-P while parts of Pata in Balochistan will be merged into Balochistan. Fata will be merged into K-P by amending Article 246 of the Constitution.

As per Article 247, president is the executive authority for Fata and the post of governor for Pata will be entirely omitted. The clause empowers president to restrict or extend laws to Pata or Fata wherever he deems it necessary, while it also nullifies the power of jurisdiction of the apex and high courts into the tribal areas.

Federal cabinet clears bill for FATA, K-P merger

Member of the National Assembly from Bajaur Agency, Shahabudin Khan, confirmed the development to The Express Tribune and said that while the abolition of Article 247 would certainly guarantee equality of law, there were certain reservations on the number of seats for the National Assembly for Fata in the future.

According to Khan, the amendment reduces the National Assembly seats for Fata from 12 to 7.

“This will not apply to the general elections of 2018 and the seats from the tribal areas will remain 12 for now,” Khan explained.

“But we have requested that since the development plan is for 10 years, the seats in the National Assembly should not be reduced immediately from 12 to 7 because the census block is also empowered for a period of 10 years,” he added.

Draft bill to amend Constitution for merger of FATA with K-P

The MNA, who was part of the consultation, also explained that it was decided in principle that the 23 provincial assembly seats, including 18 general, one minority and four women seats, would also be part of the election to be held later this year.

When asked if the delimitation of the new seats for Fata would be a hindrance, he replied that they had been guaranteed that it would be sorted out in two weeks.

Constitutional glitch

A bill to amend the Constitution, which would have the effect of altering the limits of a province, cannot be presented to President for assent unless it has been passed by the provincial assembly by the votes of not less than two-third of its total membership, states Article 239 of Constitution.

While the K-P government wraps up on May 28, the government has neither presented the budget it wanted to, while it has managed to avoid calling an assembly session that was postponed thrice.

There is also a no-confidence motion against K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak. For the bill to sail through the K-P Assembly, there has to be widespread consensus without the house going down in flames.

The PTI-led government has clearly lost its majority in the house after it took action against its MPAs allegedly involved in horse-trading during the Senate polls.

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