ISLAMABAD: In a landmark development, the National Assembly on Thursday approved a much-awaited constitutional amendment bill regarding the merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the majority. The Senate will vote on the bill on Friday (today).
The 31st amendment bill was tabled by Law Minister Mahmood Bashir Virk in a historic session called after a parliamentary committee agreed upon the draft of the bill despite resistance from Jamat-e-Ulema Islam-F and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party.
229 members of the assembly voted in favour of the introduction of the bill while 11 others voted against it. The bill seeks an amendment to Article 1 of the Constitution, which describes Pakistan’s territory and mentions Fata as a separate entity along with other four provinces.
The bill also seeks to amend Articles 51 and 106, which specify the number of seats allocated to each of the provinces. The strength of the Senate will reduce from 104 to 96 members as Fata will no longer have separate representation, while the seats of National Assembly will reduce from 342 to 336.
The KP assembly will now have 145 seats, including 115 general, 26 reserved for women and four for minorities. Fata will have 21 seats in the KP Assembly, including 16 general, four for women and one reserved for non-Muslims.
Articles 246 and 247 will be amended ending the control of the president on the Fata. The parliamentary session observed a higher attendance of the lawmakers as members of opposition parties, including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), took part in the major decision passionately.
In a surprising move, PTI chief Imran Khan, who has been forcefully supporting the Fata merger, also reached the NA after nearly two years to take part in the landmark event.
However, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party members boycotted the session. Earlier this week, the amendment bill got the approval of the federal cabinet in a session presided over by the prime minister. INP