QUETTA: The National Party (NP) is likely to oppose the increase in the number of National Assembly seats for the erstwhile Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) unless Balochistan is provided a similar increase, with the party calling for 10 more general seats to Balochistan’s share of 14 seats in the lower house.
“Each NA constituency in Balochistan is spread over at least 24,000 square kilometres. In other provinces, NA constituencies cover at the most up to 2,000 square km,” Senator Kahuda Akram Dashti said while speaking to journalists in Turbat on Tuesday.
“We won’t support the Fata bill in the National Assembly until the government announces the 10 additional NA seats for Balochistan,” said the NP leader.
Last week, the NA unanimously passed the 26th Constitution Amendment Bill, formalising an increase in the number of general seats of the tribal areas from six to 12 in the NA and from 16 to 24 in the provincial assembly. The bill was passed with 288 votes in a rare show of unity between the government and the opposition.
The NP leader threatened to challenge the decision, saying that Balochistan deserved a similar increase in its share of seats in the lower house. Balochistan currently has 14 general seats and three reserved for women in the 342-member NA.
It also has more than twice the population of the former Fata region. According to the country’s last census held in 2017, the population of Balochistan was a little over 12.3 million. Meanwhile, the population of the tribal areas was around five million. Furthermore, Balochistan also covers more land mass than the tribal areas.
He also criticised the government while vowing to bring an end to the years of neglect of Balochistan at the hands of the Centre. He said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government had failed to deliver on its promise of change, with people crushed under the twin menace of inflation and poverty.
He said the government’s popularity was on the wane while it was also under pressure from opposition parties that had joined ranks. “We would give them the government a tough time and held them accountable over their failings.
He also accused the government of carrying out political victimisation under the guise of its accountability drive. “Those who brought them (government) into power were not happy with their performance, despite framing false cases against the Peoples Party and Muslim League leadership,” he added.