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Opposition stages another walkout over FATA reforms bill

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News Analysis |

Opposition legislators once again staged a walkout from the National Assembly (NA) after the government failed to include the bill on Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Reforms Bill for the region’s merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in today’s agenda.  

The speaker of the NA- Ayaz Sadiq resultantly, postponed the session after the opposition parties decided to walk out in dismay. The speaker had said on Tuesday that the bill would be presented in the NA in a day’s time. Despite his assurances, the bill was not introduced in the lower house. 

The Prime Minister of Pakistan held a meeting with his party’s senior leaders, opposition parties, and Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Many opposition leaders had already stated earlier that the opposition will continue to protest and will walkout until the government agrees to debate the FATA reforms bill in the NA.

The government is adamant that it is planning to present the bill in the Assembly, as the PML-N leaders suggested that it will be part of the next agenda. But, it was the ninth consecutive session without a bill.

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

The Minister for States and Frontier Regions retired Lt. Gen. Abdul Qadir Baloch has also assured the NA that FATA reforms bill will soon be presented in the lower house. He also used the same rhetoric as other leaders from the ruling PML-N stating that the government requires time to consult with relevant stakeholders and that the government is committed to presenting the bill at all costs. 

Earlier on Wednesday, the non-inclusion of the bill sparked protests and walkouts. The opposition miffed with the government threatened not to attend the assembly session until the government does not make it part of the agenda.

The government may be in a process to make the changes in its clauses to somehow facilitate its ally’s. It is resisting the pressure for now, and despite the efforts of the parliamentary committee

The opposition leader Khursheed Shah criticized the callous and indifferent attitude of the government regarding the bill, despite witnessing the deprivation and difficulties of the war-hit region. He further said, his party [PPP] will continue to stage walkouts till the clarification for the delay is not made public. Similarly, Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf’s chairman Imran Khan also criticized the government for showing a non-serious attitude and had reprimanded the state of serious repercussions as it can create unrest in the region.

He had demanded the government to table the full package of FATA reforms including the abolition of the Frontier Crimes Regulation, extension of the Supreme Court and Peshawar High Court’s jurisdiction to FATA and the amendment in Article 106 of the Constitution to allow an increase of seats in the KP Assembly to accommodate representatives from the tribal areas in his tweet.

Read more: Pakistan Army fully supports mainstreaming FATA

In its defense, the government is of the view that there is a requirement of further consultation that has postponed its inclusion in the agenda. It was expected that the government would present the bill in a few days as it was promised last week. But, its non-inclusion is promoting many speculations about the government’s seriousness about the issue.

The Minister for States and Frontier Regions retired Lt. Gen. Abdul Qadir Baloch has also assured the NA that FATA reforms bill will soon be presented in the lower house. 

The government had continued its back channel meetings with the relevant authorities [stakeholdrs] to discuss the clauses of the bill. The Prime Minister of Pakistan held a meeting with his party’s senior leaders, opposition parties, and Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Though the government continues to give an impression of its seriousness and significance of the issue, it appears to be under pressure from its allied parties such as JUI-F and Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) leader and nationalist Mehmood Khan Achakzai.  

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

The government may be in a process to make the changes in its clauses to somehow facilitate its ally’s. It is resisting the pressure for now, and despite the efforts of the parliamentary committee, and army throwing the weight behind the bill supporting mainstreaming FATA, the government is yet to introduce the bill.


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