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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Government aims to provide basic facilities to FATA

News Analysis |

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, while addressing a tribal gathering at Jamrud, sub-division of the Khyber Agency, said that provision of basic facilities to the people of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) was more important than its pending merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

After much delay over the political reasons, the government, in collaboration and agreement with all the political parties, has finally decided to table the FATA merger bill.

Last year, after the Federal Cabinet meeting, the incumbent government verified the steps to be taken for the proposed merger.  Based on the recommendations of the 6-member committee, the government revealed that it will announce a 10-year reform package to ensure to level playing field both in the tribal regions and the rest of Pakistan.

But two key allies of the ousted PM Nawaz Sharif – JUI-F and PkMAP – have severely opposed the merge plan to alleviate the region out of poverty and to bring it on a par with other areas of the country.

Read more : Delay in FATA reforms could waste all counterterrorism successes

Despite the opposition pressure, the then-PM Nawaz Sharif stalled the FATA reform package and for personal political interests decided to not implement the FATA reform bill.

However, after PTI’s April 29 jalsa in Greater Iqbal Park in Lahore, where it’s Chairman Imran Khan included the KP-FATA merger in its 24-page 100-day plan, which consisted of 11 points, the government decided to revive the shelved plan and announced that it will not be dictated by its two allies which opposed the merger.

The government brought the bill to table on May 18, in the assembly but the bill had to be put off due to the opposition parties, who wanted the government to present a comprehensive package after incorporating the suggested amendments to all relevant articles of the Constitution.

PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi showed satisfaction after the government decided to address his party’s concerns and made necessary amendments in it.

Read more : FATA merger: Jamaat-e-Islami gives Government deadline

However, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) did not endorse the bill and objected to some of the provisions in the draft and pointed out some ambiguities. PPP requested for the government to make necessary changes and is hoping that it will be done with before the bill is presented in the lower house.

The government is no mood to not push the bill forward at the behest of its two allies anymore.

The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) did not participate in the meetings earlier but in the May 23 meetings, their representatives were present after government’s announcement to float the bill was made.

After the difference of opinion was sorted, all the major political parties have already given a nod to the new draft of the bill in the greater interest of people.

Apparently, the PML-N government does not want to leave the government without presenting this bill. It can be used as a potent weapon in the upcoming elections when it goes to people for votes.

According to the census of 2017, the population of FATA is 4, 996, 556 and it has 12-general national assembly seats out of the total 272.

The PM showed solidarity with the tribal people and while inaugurating the 132kv grid station [built at the cost of Rs786 million] said that rudimentary requirements such as education, health, gas, and electricity, road infrastructure are the constitutional rights of the people of the region, which will be provided to people of FATA.

Read more : Supreme Court jurisdiction extended to FATA

At the start of this year in January, after the National Assembly passed the bill and extended the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the Peshawar High Court to FATA, It was the first practical step towards the much-awaited mainstreaming of the region.

According to government, an estimated Rs100 billion will be required to initially provide for the basic facilities. Moreover, a massive push is expected to start next year to unleash a wave of development in one of the most deprived areas of the country and to put the smile back on the faces of its people who have suffered the most in recent past.