ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions revealed on Monday that none of the stakeholders were willing to take responsibility for the complete merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Members of the committee discussed the Fata reforms and the proposed Rewaj Bill to replace the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) for over two months, but failed to agree and continued to offer contradictory ideas over the procedures to merge Fata with KP.

While three special invitees supported the abolishment of the proposed Rewaj Bill and called for implementation of Pakistani laws in Fata with immediate effect, some members even called for implementation of Sharia laws in the tribal areas to replace the FCR and others demanded establishment of another committee to discuss the matter.

However, briefing the committee Minister for States and Frontier Regions retired Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch said that the government has discussed the matter with all the stakeholders for more than two years and the Rewaj Bill has been formulated to address the concerns of local Fata residents.

“There were many things in the FCR like speedy justice but our system has a very slow process, therefore, a sudden change might be unacceptable to ordinary citizens,” he said. “We have had meetings and even the army chief attended a recent meeting to express support for the merger of Fata with KP and its mainstreaming.”

However, members belonging to the JUI-F stressed the need for further discussion over the matter on the ground that any decision taken in haste would ruin the lives of future generations of the people of Fata.

While the minister repeatedly stressed that the decision was to be taken by the committee and parliament, Shahabuddin Khan, PML-N MNA from Bajaur Agency, decried his own party leadership saying that Fata could be merged with KP with a presidential order.

“You are wasting time and this is delaying development works as well as the future of our youth,” he added.

He, along with Sajid Turi and Shah Jee Gul Afridi, called for scrapping the idea of Rewaj Bill and early merger of Fata with KP.

As all sides tried to ‘throw the ball into each other’s court’ and all groups claimed that majority of their members were supporting their point of view, the committee’s chairman ann­ounced that there should be another meeting for voting over the matter.

The committee approved annual allowance of Rs3 million for the heirs of princely states that acceded to Pakistan at the time of independence.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2017

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