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PM briefs cabinet on hurdles in Fata reforms

Updated May 09, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chairs a meeting of the federal cabinet at Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday.—INP
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chairs a meeting of the federal cabinet at Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday.—INP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday briefed the federal cabinet about his Monday’s meeting with the parliamentary leaders and representatives of various political parties on the issue of Fata reforms and told them about the hurdles being faced by the government in implementing the process due to opposition by two of its allies.

Sources said the prime minister also apprised his cabinet colleagues of the “timeline” that had been finalised by the top civil and military leadership last week for various steps needed to be taken for mainstreaming of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas that also included a crucial planned merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The country’s political leadership had failed to agree on the timeline for implementation of the Fata reforms package due to strong opposition by Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) president Mehmood Khan Achakzai. Other parties, including the Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, had criticised the government for slow implementation of the Fata reforms package that had been approved by parliament about two years ago.

Says he will try to convince parliamentary leaders tomorrow on agreed timeline

The JUI-F and PkMAP leaders, the sources said, had called for holding a referendum in Fata on the issue of its merger with KP. However, the government was of the view that such a decision would provide a justification for a similar move in other areas where the people had been demanding creation of new provinces, including Hazara areas in KP and southern Punjab.

According to the sources, the prime minister told the cabinet that he would again meet the parliamentary leaders on Thursday (tomorrow) and try to convince them on the agreed timeline for taking steps such as holding of local government elections in Fata and on the seats to be allocated for the provincial assembly.

The prime minister had already informed the National Assembly that they had decided that the local government elections in Fata would be held before October this year.

The sources said that during Monday’s meeting, the prime minister had informed the parliamentary leaders that the merger of Fata with KP would take place in May next year.

At the outset of the cabinet meeting, the members strongly condemned the assassination attempt on Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and prayed for his speedy recovery. They expressed concern over the timing of the attack and called for steps to provide security and protection to the politicians during the election campaign.

The cabinet also ratified the decisions taken by the Economic Coordination Committee in its meeting on April 27 that included approval of an incentive package for setting up modern oil refineries with a 20-year tax holiday. The package is designed to attract investment in the refining sector, including deep conversion refineries and expansion of existing refineries of at least 100,000 barrels per day of oil refining capacity.

The decision will facilitate establishment of new state-of-the-art refineries in any part of the country, including planned Chinese refinery in Gwadar, which will ensure sustained supply of petroleum products to various parts of the country at affordable prices and reduce the import bill of petroleum products.

The cabinet approved renewal of agreement for coordination in the field of education between Pakistan and Kyrgyz Republic which was signed in March 2005.

According to an official handout, the cabinet also approved the signing of an agreement on transfer of offenders between Pakistan and Jordan.

The cabinet approved an agreement for provision of credit line facility amounting to $14 million to Somalia related to provision of services by the National Database and Registration Authority.

It approved re-appointment of Ahmed Owais Pirzada as member Technical Competitions Appellate Tribunal, Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2018