PESHAWAR – The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly on Sunday approved the KP-FATA merger bill, paving way for the merger of the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) with the province.
The bill was passed with the two-thirds majority. As many as 92 lawmakers voted in favor while seven MPAs used their votes against the bill.
Following the provincial assembly’s approval, the landmark bill will bring the tribal borderlands, comprising seven agencies and six Frontier Regions, to the mainstream and they will be merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Tribal people will get representation in the KP Assembly through the amendment.
Earlier, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly met on Sunday to validate KP-FATA merger bill which was tabled before the provincial house after being approved from the upper and lower chambers of the Parliament.
The session held to vote for the bill was being presided over by KP assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, while Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak was also present on the floor.
The Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) protesters clashed with police outside the KP assembly over the merger bill. The police baton-charged the protesters to stop them from entering the assembly building.
The police also shelled tear-gas and used water cannons to disperse the demonstrators who pelted stones at the cops.
Five people have sustained minor injuries while as many as 20 people have been detained.
The JUI-F lawmakers had reached the assembly building Sunday morning to besiege it in protest.
Earlier, lawmakers of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl and Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) had expressed their reservations over the FATA-KP merger bill.
The PATA lawmakers maintain that inclusion of PATA in Fata-KP merger is unjustifiable, and if the government wants to change the status of PATA it should announce a monetary package for the area.
Meanwhile, KP minister Shaukat Yousafzai has met Federal Law Minister Zafarullah Khan and apprised him on the issues the provincial government is facing in getting the bill passed from the assembly.
Yousufzai told media that the federal government has promised to resolve the concerns raised by PATA lawmakers.
All political parties are hopeful that the KP Assembly, in today’s session — being held just a day before its dissolution on the completion of its five-year term — will manage to validate the Federally Administered Tribal Areas Reforms Bill already passed by the two houses of parliament seeking merger of Fata with the province with the required two-thirds majority.
If the bill does not get through the KP Assembly, then the fate of Fata merger will be in the hands of new representatives to be elected in the coming general elections. Even after its passage from the National Assembly and the Senate, the president will have to wait to give his assent till the installation of the new assembly.