ISLAMABAD – The constitutional amendment bill on the merger of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and long-ignored Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) was approved by the Upper Chamber of the Parliament on Friday.
The bill titled Thirty-First Amendment Act, 2018 was presented by Minister for Law and Justice Chaudhry Mahmood Bashir Virk; 71 lawmakers voted in favour of the nine clauses of the constitutional amendment bill while five were against them. The dissenting legislators belong to Mehmood Khan Achakzai-led PkMAP.
Moreover, 28 lawmakers were absent from the House during the session chaired by Senate Chairperson Sadiq Sanjrani.
The Senate members earlier discussed the landmark bill, following which a voting took place.
After the approval from the Senate, President Mamnoon Hussain will endorse it, turning into a law.
However, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly will first legislate accordingly as the seats of provincial assembly would increase as a result of Fata-KP merger; a session has been called in on Sunday in this regard.
The deadline for the provincial assembly to approve the legislation is May 28th, three days shy of the tenure for the National Assembly.
The president will only endorse the bill once it’s gets approved by the KP assembly as the Article Article 239(4) of the Constitution restrains the state head from approving an amendment bill – which affects geographical boundaries of a province – without approval by the assembly of that province.
Fata-KP merger bill sails through NA
Earlier, on Thursday, the National Assembly ratified the constitutional amendment bill with over two-third majority, paving the way for the merger.
Two hundred and twenty-nine members voted in favour of the constitution amendment while one voted against it. The historic bill was opposed by government-allied parties Jamiat-e-ulema-Islam (JUI-F) and Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP).
The amendment will bring an end to colonial-era laws governing the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), extending the writ of Pakistani courts to its districts and increasing development assistance to its residents.
The bill seeks an amendment to Article 1 of the Constitution, which describes Pakistan’s territory and mentions Fata as a separate entity along with other four provinces.
The bill also seeks to amend Articles 51 and 106, which specify the number of seats allocated to each of the provinces.
The strength of the Senate will reduce from 104 to 96 members as Fata will no longer have separate representation, while the seats of National Assembly will reduce from 342 to 336.
The KP assembly will now have 145 seats, including 115 general, 26 reserved for women and four for minorities.
Fata will have 21 seats in the KP Assembly, including 16 general, four for women and one reserved for non-Muslims.
Articles 246 and 247 will be amended ending the control of the president on the Fata.