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Pakistan Parliament passes bill to merge Fata, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Islamabad:Pakistan’s Parliament passed a constitutional amendment bill seeking the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The bill seeks an amendment to Article 1 of the Constitution, which defines the country’s territory and mentions Fata as a separate entity along with other four provinces. The restive tribal areas will now be directly governed by federal and provincial governments instead of through an agent, as had been the case since colonial times.

Opposition leader Imran Khan, who addressed the house after the bill was passed with an overwhelming majority, congratulated Parliament on coming together despite differences between the parties. “The tribal people want immediate justice just like the system that we have in KP,” he said.

MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar said that his party is supporting the bill “for the sake of political unity”. However, he clarified that his party still believes that Fata should be turned into a separate province. He called for the formation of 19 provinces — including Karachi — on administrative grounds, adding that MQM had presented bills for the creation of provinces of South Punjab, Hazara and Fata.

Parliament on January 12 had passed a bill which extended the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the Peshawar high court to Fata — a first major step towards mainstreaming the tribal region and its eventual merger with KP.