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Opposition staged walkout from NA on FATA Reforms Bill

22 December, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: The opposition once again staged a walkout from the National Assembly proceedings on Thursday as the FATA Reforms Bill for the region’s merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa remained out of the agenda for yet another session.

Speaker Ayaz Sadiq postponed the session for indefinite period on indication of quorum after leaders from Pakistan People’s Party and other opposition parties walked out of the session.

The recommendations to bring FATA at par with the rest of the country were approved at the cabinet meeting on FATA reforms on March 2.

Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch assured the lawmakers that FATA reforms bill will soon be introduced in the House. He said the government remains committed to implement the FATA reforms in accordance with the wishes of the region’s citizens. “Give us some more time for the bill, it will be tabled soon. The people of FATA will be given their due rights,” the minister told the House, adding that every decision will be taken in the best interest of the country and the people of tribal areas.

The minister said that the PML-N initiated the move and would also take the credit of settling the issue. He said the opposition had been in the government for three terms but did nothing to settle the issue.

PPP’s Naveed Qamar lamented that the bill was dropped from the agenda overnight and demanded that the government present the bill in the assembly forthwith. He wondered that as government makes promises to bring the bill the next day, it changes the agenda of the House during the night. He asked the ruling party to learn lesson from its follies as it has been already been isolated due to its wrong policies.

The issue of the FATA merger with KP is one of the pending matters for the incumbent government and has dominated the political discourse of the country in recent weeks.

The KP Assembly had adopted a resolution on December 14, 2016, in favour of merging FATA with KP with the aim of rehabilitating and reconstructing the infrastructure including roads, communications, power lines, water supply, education and health facilities.

The recommendations to bring the tribal areas at par with the rest of the country were approved by the federal cabinet on March 2, but the matter has been delayed since then.

On Wednesday, the FATA supreme council held a meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and said that the citizens of the region wanted to maintain their separate identity. The matter of FATA’s merger with KP was left unresolved after the meeting.

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