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Historic Fata-KP merger bill sails through Senate

ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Friday approved the Constitution Amendment Bill, 2018 with majority for the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Seventy-one members of the upper house of Parliament voted in favour of the bill while five against it during a session presided over by Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani. Five senators who opposed the bill belonged to Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP).

Law Minister Chaudhry Mahmood Bashir Virk moved the bill in the house. The constitution amendment bill has already been passed by the National Assembly with a two-third majority.

It will now be tabled in the provincial assembly of KP for approval before it is sent to the President for presidential endorsement.

According to the amendment, the number of seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly will increase to 145 from existing 124. Fata will be granted 16 general seats, four seats for women and one seat for non-Muslims in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.

Elections on these provincial legislature seats shall be held within one year after the general elections 2018.

The amendment reduces the number of seats in the National Assembly from 342 to 336. The members of the National Assembly from Fata to be elected in the 2018 election shall continue till dissolution of the Lower House.

According to the constitutional amendment, the number of seats of Senate will be reduced to 96 from existing 104.  The existing members of the Senate from Fata shall continue till expiry of their respective terms of office.

The constitution amendment also envisages amendments in article 246 and repeals article 247 which place the tribal areas under the command and control of President.

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