Lawmakers hail report on Fata reforms

ISLAMABAD - A report of the committee on ‘Fata reforms, 2016’ was presented yesterday in National Assembly, recommending enforcement of ‘Rewaj Act’ by abolishing Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) and merger of tribal areas with KP in next five years.

The lawmakers from both sides of aisle, on the last of 35th session, appreciated incumbent government for taking steps for Fata reforms, especially for the idea to merge Fata with KP.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, presetting the report, told the house that PM had formed the committee in 2005 to deliberate on this important matter.

The committee had visited all the agencies of Fata and met cross sections of the society to take their input, adding that majority of opinions were in favour of merging Fata with KP.

Local government election would be held in Fata, besides setting up benches of High Court and Supreme Court there, he informed.

Minister for SAFRON Abdul Qadir Baloch, sharing the salient feature of the report, said the committee recommended holding local government elections in 2017 and complete repatriation of IDPs to their native areas by next December.

“A hefty amount of Rs500 billion would be spent on the development of Fata in next five years before its merger with KP,” he informed, sharing the recommendations. The minister also proposed setting up an advisory committee comprising Fata parliamentarians to give their recommendations to KP governor for development of Fata. He said a grade 22 officer under the supervision of the governor would monitor all the development projects. He also remarked that these recommendations were not final and suggestions given by the members of the house would be welcomed.

The speaker also ensured the house that thorough debate would be allowed on the issue.

Lauding the PML-N government for Fata reforms, the MNAs called for immediate merger of Fata with KP. They also called for implementing the recommendations of the committee.

A parliamentary leader of Fata, Haji Shah Jee Gul Afridi said the people of tribal areas would remember Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his efforts in this regards. “After father of the nation, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Nawaz Sharif would be the second leader who took such steps (in the interest of Fata),” he added.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, on the last day of the sitting, also attended the proceedings of the house for around an hour. Lawmakers mainly from treasury benches kept shaking hands with and whispering in his ears during the proceedings.

The PM, at the fag end of the proceedings, left the house when PTI’s senior MNA Jhangir Tareen got point of order to speak about reference sent against him in Election Commission of Pakistan.

With other opposition members, MQM lawmakers also gathered around the seat of PM to seek time for registering their concerns regarding the party. They were also seen hurriedly following the prime minister when he was leaving with some other senior PML-N MNAs. MQM MNAs after failing to get an opportunity to share their concerns with PM rushed back to the house.

Khalid Maqbol, on point of order, strongly raised concerns about missing members of their party. “Why MQM members are not presented before the court. It is victimisation, which needs to be stopped,” said MQM MNA before leaving the house in protest with other party members. PTI leader Jhangir Tareen, on point of order, attempted to clarify his position about sending reference to ECP. “ECP has not issued any show-cause notice to me,” said Tareen.

He blamed incumbent government for using Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) against political opponents. “Keep on blaming me, but I have never indulged in any wrongdoing,” he said and claimed to be the biggest tax payer of the country.

He said Rahim Yar Khan has become hub of Sugar milling industry because of his efforts. “I have taken stay order from court against Chaudhary Sugar Mills, owned by the prime minister, but it was violated by the PM,” he said.

About sending of reference by NA speaker against Imran Khan, Tareen said they would defend it vigorously. He was interrupted by treasury benches MNAs during his speech. Responding to the concerns raised by Tareen, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq said he applied his mind as per rules. “If my decision was wrong then you have other venues of justice,” he added.

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