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PM rules out external pressure behind FATA merger legislation

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said the bill for merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa sailed through the National Assembly following the consensus among the political parties, not because of any external pressure.

Talking to reporters at a news conference, the prime minister said the government had formed the FATA Reforms Committee led by Sartaj Aziz that followed the constitution of an implementation committee comprising the chief minister and governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, army chief and other stakeholders.

After threadbare debate, all the stakeholders evolved consensus to replace centuries old tribal laws with the regular laws and merge the area with KP, he added.

He said the bill had also given a timeframe for the local government to be held this year. The provincial assembly election will be held within a year as delimitation and political system were yet to be established there.

The prime minister who was accompanied by cabinet members including Marriyum Aurangzeb, Lt. Gen (Retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, former law minister Zahid Hamid and MNA from FATA Shah Jee Gul Afridi, said under the bill, 12 National Assembly seats had been maintained though the area was entitled to six seats as per recent national census. Eight seats of Senate have also been protected. All those eight Senate seats would stand abolished by 2024.

The prime minister said the government had already announced to extend the jurisdictions of Supreme Court and Peshawar High Court and the decision would be implemented along with the whole process of merger.

He told media that the government had proposed the allocation of Rs 100 billion a year for 10 years period to develop the area at par with others. The development schemes would be identified in coordination with the provincial government, he added.

To a question about the reservations of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl and Mehmood Achakzai, the prime minister said the mater had been discussed for long and threadbare. Majority of the parties supported the merger for welfare of the people, particularly the youth from FATA desired such a legislation for their uplift.

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