ISLAMABAD - The National Assembly on Thursday witnessed pandemonium mainly over the deferment of the Fata reforms bill and remarks of Water and Power Minister Khwaja Asif which eventually led to boycott of the proceedings by opposition parties.

Tension prevailed in the house throughout the session as the government and opposition lawmakers faced off on several issues, on the last day of the 42nd sitting.

The debate on the 30th amendment bill, which calls for the merger of the tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), started in the backdrop of the recent telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his coalition government partner JUI-F chief Fazlur Rahman.

Fazl who is bitterly opposed to the merger, had reportedly asked the PM to fulfil some promise the latter had made with the former on this issue. After the telephonic contact, the prime minister, who was in China till Wednesday, reportedly directed his party to postpone further debate on the Fata reforms bill.

The opposition saw it as government’s succumbing to pressure by a junior partner. Some even expressed doubts about the sincerity of the PML-N, which is the driving force behind Fata reforms.

Almost all the political parties and groups in the country across and the representatives of Fata favour reforms in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and their merger with KP. But two relatively insignificant political parties – JUI-F of Fazl and PkMAP of Mehmood Achakzai – are opposing it.

These areas, along Afghanistan border, are being run under centuries-old customs and laws which have no relevance in the modern world and are quite brutal and inhuman by universal standards of civility.

As per the 30th amendment bill, 23 seats would be allocated for Fata in the KP assembly. Of these seats, 18 will be general, four reserved for women and one for religious minorities.

As per another bill, Rewaj Act, the jurisdiction of country’s higher judiciary would be extended to Fata, under a plan of piecemeal mainstreaming of the area.

The opposition parties were unanimous in their opinion that the government should have taken its allied partners into confidence before going for legislation on the Fata reforms bill.

Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah, on a point of order, said that the government was not serious about the Fata issue.

“Legislation on the Fata reforms bill was blocked. I condemn the behaviour of the government for also not taking the opposition into confidence on the matter,” Shah said, mentioning that a government allied partner has already threatened to block further proceedings on the Fata reforms bill.

PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the government was not serious on the Fata reforms issue. “The government should have taken its allied partners into confidence before bringing it to the house,” Qureshi said.

PkMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai opposed the merger of Fata with KP, terming it ‘an independent area’.

“Fata is an independent area. The first prisoner of FCR [Frontier Crimes Regulation] is Ghafar Khan and the second is my father,” he said inviting criticism from opposition parties and Fata members.

The opposition leader rushed to take the floor and strongly criticised Achakzai. “I can’t say anything about a man who dislikes the law and the constitution of Pakistan,” said Shah, asserting that Fata was part of Pakistan.

He also suggested the government to go for voting on the Fata reforms bill. “Fata is part of Pakistan and there is no other way [for mainstreaming it] but to merge it with KP,” he said.

Qureshi said that a member from Balochistan has no right to talk about Fata. “Fata is our country’s part. If you (Achakzai) prefer to live in Afghanistan, it’s your choice,” said Qureshi.

Achakzai, responding to the opposition members’ criticism, said that there was a need to respect the opinion of the people of Fata. “No one should teach me about Pakistan,” he said.

ANP’s Ghulam Ahmed Bilour said that there was a need to respect the opinion of Fata members [who support area’s mainstreaming] regarding the Fata reforms bill.

Parliamentary leader of Fata Haji Shah G Gul Afridi also tried to take the floor in an emotional way on the remarks of Achakzai but the chair did not allow him.

A government minister said that the government believes in the supremacy of Parliament, which was why the Tribal Areas Rewaj Act was laid before the House the other day.

SAFRON Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch rejected all rumours about Fata reforms bill. He said that the Fata reforms package comprising 36 points was formulated in consultation with all stakeholders. Baloch said that mainstreaming of tribal areas and the abolition of FCR are main points of the package.

 

 

Uproar of Asif’s remarks

The house also saw uproar over the remarks of Khwaja Asif over the electricity theft issue and protests of the people in Peshawar. Although the chair expunged the remarks of Asif, the opposition members kept on demanding an apology from the minister.

“It will be better if the minister takes his words back... We should not give an opportunity to anyone [from outside] by fighting with one another,” said the opposition leader. “Power pilferage is prevalent across the country including Lahore,” he said.

PTI and treasury members also raised slogans like “Shehbaz Sharif chor hai [Shehbaz is a thief]” and “Imran Khan chor hai” against the leadership of each other.

Khwaja Asif, who also holds the portfolio of defence minister, despite the slogans and repeated demand to render apology for his remarks against people of KP, kept shaking his head in ‘no’.

“Our office [of Wapda/Pesco] was broken by the protesters. Such rallies only for this purpose [of breaking law] will be fruitless,” he said.

The minister also regretted that the procession outside Pesco office in Peshawar was led by an MNA. He pointed out that there was 89 percent power pilferage in the feeders where PTI MNA Gulalai was residing.

The minister apparently wanted to speak more on the issue but PTI MNA Sajid Nawaz pointed out quorum and the house was prorogued.

Earlier, the house also passed “The Alternate Dispute Resolution Bill, 2017”. Law Minister Zahid Hamid also moved “The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2017” and some other legislative drafts.

Minister of State for Education Muhammad Balighur Rehman laid before the house “The National Skill University Islamabad Bill, 2017”.

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Achakzai, responding to the opposition members’ criticism, said that there was a need to respect the opinion of the people of Fata. “No one should teach me about Pakistan,” he said.

ANP’s Ghulam Ahmed Bilour said that there was a need to respect the opinion of Fata members [who support area’s mainstreaming] regarding the Fata reforms bill.

Parliamentary leader of Fata Haji Shah G Gul Afridi also tried to take the floor in an emotional way on the remarks of Achakzai but the chair did not allow him.

A government minister said that the government believes in the supremacy of Parliament, which was why the Tribal Areas Rewaj Act was laid before the House the other day.

SAFRON Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch rejected all rumours about Fata reforms bill. He said that the Fata reforms package comprising 36 points was formulated in consultation with all stakeholders. Baloch said that mainstreaming of tribal areas and the abolition of FCR are main points of the package.

Uproar of Asif’s remarks

The house also saw uproar over the remarks of Khwaja Asif over the electricity theft issue and protests of the people in Peshawar. Although the chair expunged the remarks of Asif, the opposition members kept on demanding an apology from the minister.

“It will be better if the minister takes his words back... We should not give an opportunity to anyone [from outside] by fighting with one another,” said the opposition leader. “Power pilferage is prevalent across the country including Lahore,” he said. PTI and treasury members also raised slogans like “Shehbaz Sharif chor hai [Shehbaz is a thief]” and “Imran Khan chor hai” against the leadership of each other.

Khwaja Asif, who also holds the portfolio of defence minister, despite the slogans and repeated demand to render apology for his remarks against people of KP, kept shaking his head in ‘no’.

“Our office [of Wapda/Pesco] was broken by the protesters. Such rallies only for this purpose [of breaking law] will be fruitless,” he said.

The minister also regretted that the procession outside Pesco office in Peshawar was led by an MNA. He pointed out that there was 89 percent power pilferage in the feeders where PTI MNA Gulalai was residing. The minister apparently wanted to speak more on the issue but PTI MNA Sajid Nawaz pointed out quorum and the house was prorogued.

Earlier, the house also passed “The Alternate Dispute Resolution Bill, 2017”. Law Minister Zahid Hamid also moved “The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2017” and some other legislative drafts.

Minister of State for Education Muhammad Balighur Rehman laid before the house “The National Skill University Islamabad Bill, 2017”.