ISLAMABAD – The PML-N led government is to merge Federally Administered Tribal Areas into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province after an approval of almost all the parliamentary parties.

As the federal cabinet managed to woo both the opposition and allies over the merger plan, the process of bringing Fata under the administrative control of the KP government will begin after Parliament’s approval.

Fata is being governed by the British-era law called Frontier Crime Regulation (FCR) Act which legal experts say is a violation of universal human rights and contradicts the 1973 Constitution.

The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) had expressed their reservations over the merger, but the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government managed to persuade the two parties for the plan. PML-N, Pakistan People’s Party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Jamaat-i-Islami have demanded immediate merger of Fata with KP.

Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which runs the KP government with the support of Jamaat-e-Islami, mainly supports the merger. “The best option is to become part of KP,” Imran said in December during a meeting with the tribal elders and politicians from Fata at the Chief Minister House, Peshawar.

On Dec 15, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly also adopted a resolution in favor of Fata’s merger into the province. The resolution, moved by PTI lawmaker Dr Haider Ali, was adopted by a majority vote.

“The house calls upon the federal government to merge the tribal areas into K-P according to the wishes of people, so that the area can reap the benefits of development,” it stated.

However, the PTI chairman warned against taking hasty decisions and said changes should be made in phases. “The change in the administrative setup during the merger of Swat and Buner with K-P caused the birth of the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat in the region,” he reminded.

The proposed merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was finalized at a meeting, presided over by President Mamnoon Hussain, at the Presidency earlier this month.

The cabinet was waiting for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to return from Davos before announcing the decision.

Under the proposed plan, Fata would be put under the control of the provincial government through amendments to the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR). An annual grant of Rs100 billion has also been proposed for Fata development under the proposed merger and the amount will be given from the federal divisible pool.