Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman on Tuesday said the matter of KP-Fata merger should be presented before a tribal jirga, alleging that "the decision was not taken by the National Assembly; it was forced into doing so".
Talking to newspersons at his residence, the JUI-F leader said that the public's reaction has started to become evident. He warned against conspirators who were aiming to use the people of Fata as fuel in the future.
"This is not a decision which has been made by the National Assembly (NA). It has been forced into doing so by the 'forces' which have wrung the Parliament's neck into submission," Fazl declared.
He said that there was still time to take the people's opinion on the merger and to "consider their wishes".
Referring to the PTI's sit-in staged in Islamabad, he remarked that "those who staged a sit-in for 120 days in the federal capital could not tolerate our protest for a single day; they ordered a baton charge against our party members".
Fazl said that the stance on the Fata-KP merger "will spell negative outcomes for Pakistan's future".
He called attention to the fact that the government and ministers have admitted that the decision was taken against their advice. "They themselves have acknowledged that the land rights are those 'which Fazlur Rehman has been saying all along,'" the JUI-F chief argued.
He said Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Abdul Qadir Baloch had provided assurances that a merger will not take place and that work on the Riwaj Act will be halted.
In January this year, Fazl had also criticised adoption by the NA of a bill extending jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and Peshawar High Court (PHC) to the Fata.
He said this was the reason why the people of the Provincially administrated tribal areas (Pata) are holding their representatives responsible for this merger's decision.
He claimed that the bill, instead of being included in the amendment, was hidden behind resolutions. The JUI-F chief observed that Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) was put to an end in Fata but a new system has not been put in its place.
Fazl said that he had put his proposals forth behind closed doors as well as openly in front of everyone.
"I warned General Qamar Bajwa as well as the Prime Minister that we may experience difficulties when it comes to Afghanistan and within 24 hours we saw their reaction to the merger," he pointed out.
"We have hardly managed to free ourselves from Western disputes and are now inviting trouble from the Eastern front," he said. He observed that "in the coming days if anyone will be considered fuel for the fire it will be the people of Fata".
"Do the people of the tribal areas only exist for this purpose?" he questioned.
He also called into question how Fata can be considered backwards when South Punjab itself is underdeveloped. "They demand a new province for South Punjab to bring development and progress in the region. But when it comes to Fata, they end up deciding to merge it. We will continue to fight for the rights of the people of Fata," he asserted.
Regarding the nomination of the caretaker prime minister, the JUI-F chief said that "Justice Nizar Nasirul Mulk is a man of good repute. We support his nomination."