NA Approves Bill to Increase Assembly Seats for Erstwhile FATA

NA Approves Bill to Increase Assembly Seats for Erstwhile FATA

The National Assembly, on Monday, unanimously passed the 26th Constitutional Amendment Bill seeking an increase in the number of seats for the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in the National Assembly, as well as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.

Speaking in the Lower House on the occasion, Prime Minister Imran Khan appreciated the consensus between all the political parties on the matter. He urged all the provinces to contribute to the funds for the development projects of the tribal districts.

He said it was decided that all provinces will give the three per cent from their respective National Finance Commission (NFC) Award for the development of war-torn region.

Nevertheless, acknowledging the provinces’ reservation over the move, the prime minister elucidated, “The economic situation is bad and their [provinces] funds are not at the level that they should be, but I think it is necessary because the kind of destruction caused in FATA due to the war against terrorism, the damage done there, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province could never cover that damage from its own development fund.”

Giving the modern day example of East and West Germany, Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “West Germany sacrificed and helped East Germany come up and the entire country prospered.”

“A big accident – the separation of East Pakistan – led to a sense of deprivation among the people,” he said, relating to the miseries of the tribal people.

“This sense of deprivation is dangerous as it can be exploited by Pakistan’s enemies and it is being exploited,” he cautioned. “The public of tribal areas wants to be heard, they want to come into the mainstream,” he continued.

“Development should always be inclusive. Areas that were left behind should also be brought up,” he stated.

As the prime minister concluded his speech, Speaker Asad Qaiser called for a vote on the bill, and then on different sections of the bill.

It is worth mentioning here that following the passage of the 26th Constitutional Amendment Bill, the number of seats for tribal districts has risen from six to 12 in the Lower House of Parliament, while those have been increased from 16 to 24 in the KP Assembly.

The National Assembly passed the bill with a two-thirds majority. Two hundred and eighty eight voted in favor of the amendment, while none against it.

Earlier, the House held a discussion on the amendment. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of PML-N said the federal and provincial governments should show commitment to bring the tribal districts at par with other parts of the country.

“When we can reach a consensus over the rights of the tribal region, we should also attain an agreement over other national issues,” he said, and also called for agreement on a ‘charter of economy’ and other issues of national importance.

The PML-N stalwart said he was thankful of the prime minister for his attendance in the House.

He expressed hope that the prime minister will take the House into confidence over the government’s deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other national issues.

He urged the government to table the details of the agreement with the IMF and the conditions of the lender in the assembly. The former prime minister noted that there was a consensus on the government’s decision to provide Rs 100 billion in funds to the people of ex-FATA region for 10 years.

He called for devising the modalities for funding to ensure that the people of the region are given equal rights and resources compared to other Pakistani citizens.

Maulana Wasay of JUI-F said his party supports all the initiatives aimed at facilitating the tribal people. Raja Pervez Ashraf of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said his party has always raised voice for the mainstreaming of the tribal districts.

Khalid Maqboob Siddiqui of the MQM said it is a historic occasion for the tribal districts.

Haider Khan Hoti of the Awami National Party (ANP) said more respect and honor should be given to the tribal people.

Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri said it is Prime Minister Imran Khan who always took the lead and stood up for the rights of the tribal people, and loudly and openly spoke against the drone attacks in these areas.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi strongly responded to anti-CPEC forces by stating that the entire House had achieved consensus on the initiative. He vowed to complete the project no matter what comes to hinder it.

He also outlined importance of the CPEC, and said that the project will unfold trade routes towards Central Asia.

Minister for Housing and Works Tariq Bashir Cheema laid before the House ‘The Naya Pakistan Housing Authority Bill, 2019’ and ‘The Recovery of Mortgage-backed Securities Bill, 2019.”

The House has now been prorogued.