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Senate to give green signal to FATA merger bill

25 May, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s upper house is all set to give the green light to the historic thirty first amendment bill the National Assembly passed on Thursday.

The bill paves the way for the much awaited merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Law Minister Chaudhry Mahmood Bashir Virk moved the bill which sailed through the lower house, gaining two hundred and twenty nine votes in favour, with one vote against the amendment.

The constitutional amendment will extend the Peshawar High Court and the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to the Tribal Areas, and will also provide more avenues for development assistance to FATA’s residents.

The Jamiat-ulema-Islam (JUI-F) and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP), meanwhile, stayed true to their stance and opposed the bill till the end.

The KP assembly, meanwhile, has called for a session on 2 p.m Sunday to iron out the process of merging FATA will the province.

The JUI-F, however, has vowed to ‘surround’ the assembly and prevent the assembly from passing the bill.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi praised the lower house for passing the bill and told the house, “Today this house has approved a historic bill, which will have very positive effects for Pakistan. I thank the opposition for their support.”

He also added, “We need to provide FATA residents with all those facilities which are available to people in the rest of Pakistan.”

He also thanked Khursheed Shah, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and Farooq Sattar for the positive role they played in passing the amendment.

The PM reminded the house that the FATA implementation committee worked for two years to make this plan, which was later scrutinised by all parties including the army chief.

The draft bill will amend a total of seven clauses in Pakistan’s constitution. It will amend article 1 which lays out Pakistan’s territory and places FATA as a separate entity.

The bill will also increase the KP’s assembly from 126 to 147, with general seats increasing to 117 from 99, and women seats going up from 22 to 26. Minority seats, meanwhile, will increase by 1, going from 3 to 4.

FATA, moreover, will be granted 18 general seats, four seats for women and one for religious minorities.

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