Monday Oct 09 2017
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PM Abbasi calls FATA MNAs for talks as protesters gather near D-Chowk: sources

ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has called Fata MNAs for talks on reforms in the tribal areas, according to sources.

The MNAs, including Alhaj Shahji Gul Afridi, have left to meet the premier, sources said.  

Before the MNAs were called, protesters gathered near Islamabad’s D-Chowk area to demonstrate against the delay in the implementation of Fata reforms. 

The protesters had initially planned to stage a sit-in at D-Chowk but were stopped by police from proceeding to the area. 

Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan Siraj-ul-Haq said the residents of Fata want their rights as they have the same flag, country, and religion. 

He added that the residents of the tribal want one law applicable to the region and the abolishment of the oppressive Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) law in place since the time of the British Raj. 

Awami National Party’s Ghulam Ahmed Bilour said they were not sure why the merger of Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a key element of the reforms, was being delayed. 

We are here to press the government to abolish the FCR law and extend the jurisdiction of Pakistani courts to Fata," ANP's Mian Iftikhar Hussain told people at the rally.

"More than 90 per cent of tribesmen also want to merge the tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province," Hussain said as up to 2,000 tribesmen shouted slogans such as "Go FCR Go," and "We demand merger of FATA in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa".

Earlier today, the joint protest rally by the leadership of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and ANP started from Peshawar and headed towards Islamabad earlier in the day. 

The protesters, including political activists from the tribal areas, left from the Peshawar toll plaza.

"The participants of the rally will stage a sit-in at Islamabad Press Club, and if the government does not take notice on our first sit-in, then the next sit-in will be held at D-Chowk," senior ANP leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain said.

Hussain said that the joint rally demanded from the federal government to immediately abolish FCR, adding that if their demands were not accepted they would prolong the sit-in.  

KP Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar, former federal minister Ghulam Ahmed , former provincial minister Aqil Shah, Haroon Bilour and MNA Shahji Gul participated in the rally.

Before the arrival of PTI leaders and activists, the ANP workers shouted slogans against PTI Chairperson Imran Khan and the provincial government. 

The seven tribal districts in FATA - Bajaur, Khyber, Kurram, Mohmand, North Waziristan, Orakzai and South Waziristan - are home to some five million residents.