Islamabad Politics Report/Moazzam Raza Tabassam: In historic session of National Assembly on Thursday under the chair of Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, passed constitutional amendment for the merger of FATA with KP by two-third majority.
Law Miniter, Mehmood Bashir Virk presented the 31st constitutional amendment in the house to clearing the way for the merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) on Thursday, a day after the parliamentary committee gave it a go-ahead.
As NA Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq called for voting on the clauses of the bill, 229 lawmakers voted in favour of the first clause while 11 opposed it. Meanwhile, the second clause was favoured by 229 lawmakers and opposed by three.
There was an error in one of the clauses in the bill which was then amended by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Zahid Hamid and approved.
“The seats for women in KP and Punjab Assembly have increased from 9 seats to 10,” Hamid explained while making the change.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) members staged a walkout from the assembly when voting on clauses started.
After months of delays following disagreements between coalition partners and the opposition over its clauses, the bill on the 31st Amendment of the Constitution was tabled by Law Minister Chaudhry Mehmood Bashir Virk.
JUI-F and PkMAP opposed the bill when it was tabled while Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) announced its support after expressing reservations.
The NA Speaker is chairing the 56th NA session which is attended by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
In a rare move, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan is also attending the session to vote for FATA’s merger with KP.
Addressing the NA before the bill was tabled, PM Abbasi said, “The FATA-KP merger bill is everyone’s bill not government’s nor opposition’s.”
“The bill aims at changing the 150-year-old system in tribal areas,” the premier added.
The House waited for more lawmakers to arrive before the bill was passed as while the government lacked attendance, the opposition was in full strength.
The House was in order despite JUI-F MNA Maulna Jamaluddin pointing out quorum.
I do not remember when I last attended NA session, says Imran
A session of the parliamentary leaders chaired by PM Abbasi was held on Wednesday, where the leaders finally agreed upon the amendment bill for the merger.
The session was attended by Barrister Zafarullah, Senate Opposition leader Sherry Rehman, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and Aftab Sherpao. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party members boycotted the session.
Earlier this week, the amendment was approved by the federal cabinet in a session presided over by the prime minister.
The KP assembly adopted a resolution on December 14, 2016 in favour of merging FATA with KP with the aim of rehabilitating and reconstructing the infrastructure including roads, communications, power lines, water supply, education and health facilities.
In a meeting on December 26, 2017, the federal cabinet approved the formation of a high-level national implementation committee for FATA reforms.
The draft bill seeks to amend seven articles in the Constitution of Pakistan to allow implementation of proposed reforms.
The bill seeks an amendment to Article 1 of the Constitution, which defines the country’s territory and mentions FATA as a separate entity along with other four provinces.
The bill also seeks to increase the number seats for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly to 147 from the current 126.
Parliamentary committee agrees on amendment for KP-FATA merger
The general seats of the provincial assembly will increase from 99 to 117, the bill states. Moreover, the seats for women will be increased from 22 to 26, while religious minorities’ seats will increase from three to four.
According to the sub-section of the bill, FATA will be granted 18 general seats, four seats for women and one for religious minorities.
Moreover, FATA’s 12 seats in National Assembly will be merged in KP Assembly and KP seats will increase from 48 to 60 in the National Assembly.as will be passed to the assembly.