Federal cabinet approves FATA’s merger with KP

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Sophia Siddiqui

Islamabad

The Federal Cabinet in Islamabad under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif here on Thursday has approved in principle recommendations of the FATA Reforms Committee.
In his remarks the Prime Minister said FATA, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan should be given its due share from national resources and added “Tribal people are patriotic and love Pakistan. “Time has come that the tribal people will be brought into mainstream to end their deprivation. He stressed the need for focusing on development of under-developed areas for improving the living standards of the people.
Later giving briefing about the FATA reforms, Mr. Sartaj Aziz Advisor on Foreign Affairs, who was Chairman of the Committee, said necessary constitutional amendments would be made to enable people of FATA to elect their representatives to the KP Assembly for 2018 general elections. Sartaj added that Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) would be repealed and replaced with new Rewaj system.
KP Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra said 85% of IDPs have returned to their homes and the process would be completed before June this year. He termed approval of reforms is a historic decision that would change the fate of people of FATA.
FATA reforms Recommendations consist of twenty six points including target date for repatriation of all TDPs as 30th of April this year while reconstruction activities would be completed by 2018.
A high level committee of experts would be formed with KP Governor as its head to prioritize preparation of a ten year socio-economic development plan for FATA by 30th of April this year.
NFC would be requested to consider making allocations of 3% of gross federal divisible pool on annual basis for implementation of the Fata Development Plan. This would be in addition to existing annual PSDP of 21 billion rupees.
Thirty percent allocations under FATA Development Plan would go to local bodies.
FATA Development Authority would be reorganized under a Chief Operating Officer in BS-22 to supervise and coordinate reconstruction phase.
A Governor’s Advisory Council consisting of Senators and MNAs from FATA would be formed to assist the Governor in carrying out development and administrative functions.
Proper coverage of BISP, Baital Maal and micro financing would be ensured in FATA.
FATA would be connected with the route of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Permits of Rahdari for export and import in FATA would be abolished to eliminate large-scale corruption and bring down prices of essential items.
Auditor-General would ensure that development funds and other expenditure of local bodies in FATA are properly audited to ensure efficient utilization.
Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and Peshawar High Court would be extended to FATA through an act of parliament. State Bank of Pakistan would encourage establishment of more branches of banks in FATA. Land settlement in FATA would be planned and undertaken in consultation with stakeholders.
Quota of students from FATA in educational and health institutions in other provinces would be doubled and retained for ten years integration with KP. Additional posts in the Levies Force may be sanctioned for performing agency/Police and Capacity building of FV should be undertaken and add ional new wings of FC may be created for improved Boarder Management.
Minister for States and Frontier Regions Qadir Baloch stated that after five years, FATA would be completely merged with KP but the Federal Government would continue to provide funding for FATA Development Plan for ten years.
He added FATA people did not get empowerment for 67 years and for the first time they would get their rights and ensured that representatives from FATA would be included in the advisor committee. About Rs. 110 billion would be spent for development of FATA.
The Minister mentioned FATA would not be allowed to be made controversial and black law of FCR would be abolished. Almost all the political parties are supporting the demand of merger of Fata with KP, including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Awami National Party (ANP), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) and Jamaat-e-Islami.

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