The National Assembly of Pakistan on Thursday passed a constitutional amendment bill seeking the much-awaited merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) with a 229-1 majority vote.
PTI Chief Imran Khan who addressed the parliament after the bill was passed, congratulated the parliament on coming together despite differences between the ruling and the opposition parties.
“The tribal people want immediate justice just like the system that we have in KP,” he said and added that the demand for a separate province was “unreasonable”.
After months of wrangling with coalition partners and the opposition over its clauses, the bill was finally presented by Law Minister Chaudhary Mahmood Bashir Virk with only eight days remaining in the tenure of the National Assembly. The voting was held on each clause separately.
229 members of the assembly voted in favour of the introduction of the bill while 11 others voted against it.
As expected, JUI-F and PkMAP opposed the bill when it was tabled with MQM announcing its support after expressing its reservations.
MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar said that his party is supporting the bill “for the sake of political unity”. However, he clarified that his party still believes that Fata should be turned into a separate province.
Dr Sattar called for the formation of 19 provinces — including Karachi — on administrative grounds. He said that the MQM had put the bills for the creation of provinces of South Punjab, Hazara and Fata.
Describing the FATA-KP merger as a revolutionary step, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said it would not only benefit the people of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) but would also strengthen the country.
He said it was a long process involving financial and administrative measures. Under the proposed merger, FATA would be provided Rs100 billion per annum for the next ten years as against the current Rs25 billion to bring this area as well as the people at par with other areas of the country in terms of education, health, infrastructure and other facilities.
The Prime Minister said the revenue loss of FATA due to the abolition of “Rahdari Tax” would be compensated through the provision of additional funds by the federal government. He said Pakistan Army was extending full support in the implementation of FATA reforms.
The Prime Minister said the grid station project was completed at a cost Rs 780 million. Currently, power projects worth Rs 2 billion were underway in FATA, he said.
He said work on six-lane1700 kilometre Peshawar-Karachi Motorway was in progress which after completion would benefit the people of the country in fast travelling.
The Prime Minister referred to his conversation with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and said a motorway from Peshawar to Kabul would be constructed, connecting Pakistan with the Central Asian States.
He said democracy was a pre-requisite for the socio-economic development of the country and the present government of PML-N would continue strengthening democratic institution as well as democracy in the country.
On the demand of tribesmen for the reduction in the power outage, the Prime Minister urged the tribesmen to keep a check on high losses feeders in FATA for uninterrupted power supply.