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Parliament adopts bill to extend Supreme Court, PHC jurisdiction to FATA

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Friday unanimously passed a bill extending the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and Peshawar High Court (PHC) to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

The bill was moved by newly-appointed law minister Chaudhry Mehmood Bashir Virk.

Calling the passage of bill as a historic achievement, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah said the tribesmen have rendered uncountable sacrifices for the country.

Earlier, the house held discussion on situation arising out of the rape and murder of seven year old girl Zainab, in Kasur.

The opposition parties have been demanding merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

FATA reforms bill 

On Dec 21, the opposition political parties had staged a walkout from the National Assembly over the government’s failure to introduce the bill on reforms in FATA and its merger with KP.

Soon after the walkout, the National Assembly speaker adjourned the session owing to lack of quorum for an indefinite period.

Lawmakers from the opposition benches announced to boycott the house session until the bill is not tabled.

Addressing the session, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch said the government is committed to implement the FATA reforms.

He then said the FATA reforms would be implemented as people of tribal areas would not be deprived of their due rights. “The reforms will take place in accordance with the wishes of the people residing in the tribal areas,” he added.

Requesting for more time, Baloch said the bill would be tabled soon.

Speaking on the occasion, Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) lawmaker Naveed Qamar said the FATA reforms bill was withdrawn from the NA agenda overnight.

He said the FATA-KP merger bill has been in pending for last few weeks as the incumbent government has been averse to present the aforementioned bill.

Earlier, Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed had bitterly criticized the government’s foot-dragging to move the bill on FATA reforms in the house.

It was highly unbecoming of the PML-N government to hold back the bill at the behest of its allies – JUI chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and PkMAP chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai, he said.

He said it is high time the members from tribal regions should resign from the assembly in protest against the government’s non-serious attitude towards the reforms.

It merits highlighting here that the KP assembly adopted a resolution on December 14, 2016 in favour of merging FATA with KP with an intention to rehabilitate the internally displaced people (IDPs) and reconstruct the infrastructure including roads, communications, power lines, water supply, education and health facilities.

Subsequently, the recommendations to bring the tribal areas at par with the rest of the country were approved by the federal cabinet on March 2 in past year.

However, the matter has been in pending since then.

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