In the final phase, a session of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly passed on Sunday the KP-FATA merger bill with two-thirds majority, after it has already been approved from the lower and upper houses of the Parliament.
The session held to vote for the bill was presided over by KP Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, where KP Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak was also present. The vote count showed that 92 provincial lawmakers voted in favour of the bill while seven in opposition. The House proceeded to discuss the bill, where Jamaat-e-Islami’s parliamentary leader Anayatullah addressed the assembly. The JI lawmaker said that Malakand should be given an extensible tax amnesty for 10 years and Rs100 billion annual development package should be given to KP similar as FATA. A resolution was approved in the assembly to exempt Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) from taxes for a time period of 10 years. The resolution was presented by Dr Haider Ali in the House, which was signed by all the parliamentary leaders of the political parties except for the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl.
It was also reported that protesters of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl clashed with police outside the KP assembly over the merger bill. The police are said to have baton-charged the protesters to stop them from entering the assembly building. The police also shelled tear-gas and used water cannons to disperse the protesters.
It is pertinent to mention here that due to some political disadvantages Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl and Mili Awami Party were against the FATA merger. But all other major political parties were on the same page regarding merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and ultimately merger became reality. People of tribal areas expressed their joyousness over the development as since long they were demanding the rights as people in other parts of the country have. It is a massive victory for the local people as their dream became reality after decade long struggle.
Civil society, Human right activists are terming the development as a landmark victory. But it is a matter of concern that it took almost seven decade for the policy makers to do the right thing. People were suffering and protesting against Frontier Crimes Regulation (FRC); that is a draconian colonial law and served against the fundamental rights as well as aspirations of the tribal people.
It is a historic development that FATA-Khyber Pakhtunkhwa merger is a done deal now.