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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court as he sought an order for merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

A six-page petition filed by Babar Awan on behalf of Mr Khan said the people of Fata would be “extremely grateful” if the court ensured enforcement of their fundamental rights by ordering the merger of Fata with the province.

The federal government is considering moving a bill to merge Fata and KP, adopting the Rewaj act bill that is pending before parliament and which will replace the Frontier Crimes Regulation of 1903, and extending the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the Peshawar High Court to the tribal areas.

The petition has named President Mamnoon Hussain and the federal government — through the law secretary, ministry of States and Frontier Regions and in charge of Fata — as respondents.

Also challenges ECP’s verdict in Gulalai case

It argues that in its preamble the Constitution says the principles of democracy, freedom, equality and social justice will be upheld. The rights of the people of the federation’s territories, inc­luding the areas that come under Fata, will be dealt with in a similar fashion.

It is the fundamental right of the people of Fata to enjoy equal protection of law and to be treated in accordance with the law as an integral part of the federation, the petition argues.

It says that under Article 247 of the Constitution the president is mandated to frame regulations for peace and good governance in Fata in order to bring its poor people and war-ravaged areas on a par with other federating units of the country.

The petition highlights that the president in consultation with the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has formulated a Fata reforms package.

The petition points out that the provincial government has fulfilled its constitutional requirement and consented to merge the areas of Fata with its territories, for which decisions and steps have already been taken.

In addition, a resolution has been adopted by the provincial assembly in this regard, but the respondents, to the utter surprise of all concerned, have backed down from merging Fata and KP due to political reasons.

The inaction on the part of the respondents to enforce Fata reforms package offends the principle of policy laid down in the Constitution and violates the fundamental rights of the citizens of the country, says the petition.

Estranged leader

In a separate development, Mr Khan challenged the split decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of Oct 24 that allowed estranged PTI member Ayesha Gulalai Wazir to retain her National Assembly seat.

In his petition, which was filed through his counsel Sikandar Bashir Mohmand, he pleaded that Ms Gulalai violated party laws and should therefore be “de-seated” as she had abstained from the Aug 1 voting for the PTI’s chosen candidate, Sheikh Rashid, for the office of prime minister after the ouster of former premier Nawaz Sharif.

The petition requested the Supreme Court to set aside the ECP decision on the grounds that the commission had allowed a member of parliament, who had clearly defected in terms of Article 63A of the Constitution, to escape the constitutionally prescribed penalty.

A source told Dawn that at the time of the filing of the petition, the Supreme Court’s office had raised some minor objections but the petitioner assured it that the flaws would be removed and rectified by Thursday.

The petition argued that the ECP had erred in holding that Ms Gulalai was being singled out because five other PTI legislators, including Mr Khan himself, were also not present in the assembly on the day when the voting took place.

In its ruling the commission had held that leaving five MNAs and selecting one was a grave indicator of mala fide intentions against the woman lawmaker for reasons best known to Mr Khan.

The petition argued that the finding of mala fide intentions was without any basis because there was no material before the commission that warranted or justified such a finding.

Such a finding in any event could not be reached without recording of evidence and without examination of the appellant, the petition argued, adding that mala fides were difficult to prove and required cogent and sustainable evidence which simply was not available to the commission.

The commission had blindly and without application of its mind adopted the bare and unsubstantiated allegations of Ms Gulalai and elevated them into a finding, which was contrary to the settled principles of safe administration of justice and due process, the petition regretted.

The petition argued that Ms Gulalai’s conduct as a whole must be considered and examined.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2017