National Assembly, Senate approve KP-FATA merger Bill

The National Assembly on Thursday passed a constitutional amendment bill clearing the way for the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.

Voting on each clause of the bill was concluded in the afternoon, a day after the parliamentary committee gave it their go-ahead. The bill, moved by Law Minister Chaudhry Mahmood Bashir Virk, required two-third majority to be passed.

229 members voted in favour of the constitution amendment while one voted against it. The bill was opposed by government allied parties Jamiat-e-ulema-Islam (JUI-F) and Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP).

The amendment will bring an end to colonial-era laws governing the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), extending the writ of Pakistani courts to its districts and increasing development assistance to its residents.

“Today this house has approved a historic bill, which will have very positive effects for Pakistan. I thank the opposition for their support,” Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told legislators after the vote.

“We need to provide (FATA residents) with all those facilities which are available to the people in the rest of Pakistan,” he added.

The Upper House of the Parliament, the Senate, is scheduled to vote on the bill on Friday, after which it will need the signature of the president to be passed into law.

The constitution amendment bill for the merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, formally known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas Reforms Bill, passed in the Senate on Friday by an overwhelming 71-5 vote.

The bill had already been passed by the lower house a day earlier after receiving support from both the treasury and opposition benches. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, who rarely attends NA sessions, also participated in the historic vote which was opposed by government allies Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) who chose to walk out.

The only votes against the bill, presented in the Senate today by Law Minister Chaudhry Bashir Virk, came from from PkMAP while JUI-F chose to walk out again.

Soon after the announcement of the results, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani greeted the nation in general and Fata people in particular over passage of the historic bill.

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