ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain on Thursday gave his formal assent to the recently-passed 25th Constitution Amendment Bill, paving the way for the much-delayed merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.
The bill, already approved by both houses of Parliament as well as the KP Assembly with rare political consensus, was signed by the president at a special ceremony attended by KP Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, head of Fata Reforms Committee Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Law Barrister Zafarullah Khan and National Security Adviser retired Lt Gen Nasser Khan Janjua.
The bill, which has now become an act of parliament, was forwarded to the Presidency by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani on Tuesday after receiving it from the Ministry of Law and Justice after its passage by the KP Assembly on May 28.
After signing the act, President Mamnoon Hussain felicitated the people of Fata and said that tribal people would now enjoy the same constitutional rights as being enjoyed by other citizens of the country.
He expressed the hope that after the merger with KP, Fata would enter an era of development and prosperity. The president also expressed the hope that the move would bring greater stability to the region.
Says the move will lead to development and prosperity in tribal areas
The law states that the elections on Fata seats in the KP Assembly would be held within one year. After the merger of Fata with KP, the National Assembly seats will be reduced to 336 from the present 342.
The political parties have agreed that members of the NA from Fata to be elected in General Elections 2018 shall continue till dissolution of the assembly. The number of NA seats from KP will now be increased to 45 from the present 43.
Similarly, all major political parties have also agreed that existing Fata senators shall continue their work till the expiry of their respective terms in 2021 and 2024, respectively. The total Senate seats will also be reduced to 96 from existing 104 after the retirement of eight Fata senators in 2024.
After the merger, Fata will have 21 seats (16 general, four women and one non-Muslim) in the KP Assembly whose seats will be increased from 124 to 145.
Besides Fata, the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) will also be merged with the KP province. Interestingly, the tribal areas of Zhob district, Loralai district, Dalbandin Tehsil of Chagi district and Marri and Bugti tribal territories of Sibi district have also been merged with Balochistan province through the act.
Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2018