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Imran Khan Hails Pakistan Passing Landmark Bill to Merge Fata With Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The semi-autonomous tribal region was created by British colonisers as a buffer zone to avoid direct conflict with Afghanistan.

Aishwarya Kumar | News18.com@aishwaryak03

Updated:May 25, 2018, 5:26 PM IST
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Imran Khan Hails Pakistan Passing Landmark Bill to Merge Fata With Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
File photo: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan at his home in the hills of Bani Gala on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan. (Photo: Reuters/Caren Firouz)
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New Delhi: In a historic development, Pakistan’s National Assembly passed a major Constitution amendment merging the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The move was marked by an overwhelming majority with a 229-1 vote in the House, with the ruling party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) being supported by Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Jamat-e-Islami.

The challenge now, as per sources in PTI, is ensuring the complete inclusion of the people in the FATA region. PTI is the ruling government in KP, with Pervez Khan Khattak as the CM. Khattak had hailed the amendment, saying that “FATA was now KP. A long struggle has ended today in the most promising future for tribal brothers and sisters. Congratulations Pakistan, Congratulations our tribal brothers.”

“This entire process of merger will take months. And then there is the general elections. We have asked Prime Minister Abbasi to form a committee to oversee the merger and to ensure that it happens smoothly without any trouble,” an official in the know of things told News18, adding that the committee will hopefully be formed as the new government comes into power after the general elections in July.

Khan’s priority is to ensure inclusivity in the newly merged region. The official added the merger was necessary since many had been locally displaced due to the military operations in the area.

“Now the challenge is to take care of the vacuum and to bring the people of FATA into mainstream. KP has a fine, fully functional structure in place. We are very sure that the same will trickle down to FATA region as well. We have managed KP well and there is no question over who will form the government here again. That said, we need local government elections so that people from the FATA side can be engaged more and they feel more inclusive,” the official added.

The official further said that the region would exclusively be given a separate fund for its development, thus ensuring that money didn’t come in the way of the region’s development.

Post the announcement of the merger, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi who played a key role in bringing consensus to pass the amendment said in his address to the lawmakers that it was joint effort by all parties, which will "change the 150-year-old system in the tribal areas."

The semi-autonomous tribal region was created by British colonisers as a buffer zone to avoid direct conflict with Afghanistan.

It consists of seven districts — Bajaur, Khyber, Kurram, Mohmand, North Waziristan, Orakzai and South Waziristan — which stretch along the border with Afghanistan and became known in the world due to presence of militants who fled the porous border after US forces invaded Afghanistan post 9/11.

These seven districts are home to some eight million residents, mainly ethnic Pashtuns.

Pakistan forces launched repeated military operations to clear the area of rebels and dismantle their hideouts which were used to launch attack in the country and Afghanistan.

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