Historic step: Lawmakers agree to merge FATA with K-P SAFRON Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch. PHOTO: EXPRESS PESHAWAR: The federal government has finally managed to develop consensus on the major points of reforms in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) as all lawmakers from the tribal regions have agreed to the merger with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). This consensus was developed during a meeting held in Islamabad on Friday evening. The meeting was chaired by Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) Lt-Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch and attended by most of Fata lawmakers as well as State Minister Ghalib Khan Wazir. A source, who attended the meeting, told The Express Tribune that all participants of the meeting agreed on three points – merger of Fata with K-P; extension of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) jurisdiction to Fata; and the representation of Fata members in the K-P Assembly in the next general election. It was agreed that an alternate dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism i.e. jirga be given legitimacy under the court’s patronage. The members agreed that a jirga be formed if both parties agree on it but its decision may not be accepted if it is against fundamental human rights. “It’s a historic consensus but right now we are not calling off the strike [that was earlier announced to force the government to implement Fata reforms],” said Shahjee Gul Afridi, lawmaker from Khyber Agency. ANP demands immediate merger of FATA with K-P He said some issues still needed to be seen through before the civil society, political parties and people from the tribal areas decided to abandon their plan to march towards the capital. Afridi said all members and the ministry official agreed to the suggestion. He said three Fata lawmakers were not present in the meeting but they were taken onboard via phone. “We have suggested that the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Fata should be a civilian. The COO will be running the affairs of the Directorate of Transition and Reforms (DTR),” he added. FATA residents demand merger with K-P According to MNA Shahabuddin Khan, a new law incorporating the decision of the Friday’s meeting will be drafted over the weekend and presented in the National Assembly early next week. He said the MPs during the meeting stressed that Fata’s due share in the National Finance Commission (NFC) award be also decided in the next meeting, which should be held before October 9. JUI-S demands Sharia courts Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Sami (JUI-S) chief Maulana Samiul Haq has convened an all parties conference (APC) and tribal jirga on October 3 to review implementation of reforms in Fata and demand Sharia courts in the tribal belt. Protesters demand Fata merger with K-P According to a press release issued on Friday, the APC and jirga will be held in Hayatabad area of Peshawar to develop consensus among political parties on Fata reforms and merger of the areas with K-P in a bid to ensure a better future for tribal people. “The participants will discuss abolition of the black law of the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR), merger of Fata with the K-P and reconstruction of infrastructure in the areas,” the statement said. “The participants will also discuss how to maintain local customs in case of a merger and setting up of Sharia courts instead of extension of constitutional courts or the Islamabad High Court to Fata,” it added. Federal cabinet approves FATA’s merger with K-P, repeal of FCR Talking to The Express Tribune, JUI-S spokesperson Irfanul Haq said they had already invited all political leaders of the province and the Centre. “The purpose of the APC is [to call for] merger of Fata with K-P, [implementation of] Fata reform package, and to demand a consensual judicial system for people of Fata,” Irfan added. According to the spokesman, disputes in the areas are settled through the Quran and Sharia. “That’s why we are demanding a judicial system which suits the daily life of the people of Fata,” he said, adding that the APC would be headed by Maulana Samiul Haq.