Wednesday May 17, 2017

PM directs to delay FATA reforms bill, after call by Fazalur Rehman: sources

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed his party lawmakers to delay proceedings on FATA reforms package in the National Assembly till his return to Pakistan after a phone call with Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Fazalur Rehman, sources informed on Wednesday.

The 30th amendment bill calls for a merger between the tribal areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by adding 23 seats for FATA in the KPK Assembly. Of FATA's seats, 18 will be general, four reserved for women and one for religious minorities.

Sources said that PM Nawaz —convinced by the JUI (F) chief to suspend further proceedings on the FATA reforms— called Federal Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch to delay the proceedings on the amendment till his return.

Immediately after the call, Baloch invited a delegation of FATA legislators headed by Shahji Gul Afridi to inform them that the legislative formalities will not be put into motion in the next assembly session.

During the meeting, Baloch and FATA legislator Shahabuddin exchanged hot words.

Sources privy to the meeting said that Baloch at one point remarked that if the legislators affiliated with the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) don’t agree with the government`s view, they can quit the party. During the meeting lawmakers from FATA complaint to the minister of injustice being carried out on the reservations of the JUI(F) chief.

Speaking to Geo News, Afridi confirmed the details of the meeting and said that the lawmakers from FATA would not vote for the federal budget 2017-18, further adding that the legislators would decide the future course of action in their meeting after National Assembly session on Thursday.

The recommendations to bring FATA at par with the rest of the country were approved at the Cabinet meeting on FATA reforms on March 2.

According to sources, the recommendations will be presented in the Parliament.

At the meeting, it was decided the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) would be integrated with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The process will take five years as the law and order situation in the tribal areas is not favorable for major changes in the system.

Once FATA is made part of KP, the province's share in the National Finance Commission will increase, as 3% will be for the former.

While considering the additional allocation of funds for FATA, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stressed that all parts of Pakistan have equal rights on the resources of the country.

"Pakistan belongs to every Pakistani," he said. "Development of FATA is the responsibility of the entire nation and country."

Moreover, benches of the high court and Supreme Court will also be formed in the tribal areas.

To include tribespeople in the security services, 20,000 locals will be recruited in the levies force.    

A 10-year plan will be made after which work will start on integrating Fata into KP, sources said.

It was also decided in the meeting that the Frontier Crime Regulation (FCR) will be repealed after a constitutional amendment.

The federal cabinet met under the chairpersonship of the prime minister.

Ministry of State and Frontier Region Secretary Shahzad briefed the cabinet on recommendations for the FATA Reforms Committee. Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz was also in attendance on the occasion.

Aziz, who heads the FATA reforms committee, said that to bring FATA into national fold, a five-year program has been devised.

For security purposes in the region, levies officials will be hired, he added.