More than 500 tribal elders held a grand jirga on Thursday and rejected the possible merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The elders, hailing from tribal areas, were of the opinion that FATA should be given the status of a separate province. The jirga also announced to hold a protest on December 23 in Islamabad.
The issue of the merger of the FATA with KP is one of the pending matters for the incumbent government and has dominated the political discourse of the country in recent weeks.
Earlier on Thursday, the members of opposition parties staged a walkout from the National Assembly (NA) in a bid to press the government to introduce the FATA Reforms Bill. The recommendations to bring the tribal areas at par with the rest of the country were approved by the federal cabinet on March 2 but the matter has been delayed since then.
Imran Khan also demanded of the government to immediately table a “full package of FATA reforms. Almost all the political parties support 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 (JI).
It is pertinent to mention here that FATA is being governed by the British-era law called FCR Act that legal experts say is a violation of universal human rights and contradicts the 1973 Constitution. Sources said the merger of FATA with KP would extend the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the high court to the tribal areas by amending the Article 247 and other relevant laws.