ISLAMABAD - The government in Friday’ National Assembly (NA) sitting introduced “The Supreme Court and High Court (Extension of jurisdiction to Fata) Bill, 2017”, aimed at extending the jurisdiction of the apex court and the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to Fata for safeguarding the rights of the residents of the region.

The government with a very thin presence was hardly able to introduce the bill related to one of the demands of the Fata parliamentarians.

Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid presented the bill. Pakhtunkhwa Mili Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai rushed to take the floor to oppose the bill, terming it “against the wishes of [the] people of [the] Fata areas”.

“I oppose this bill,” said Achakzai.

The NA Deputy Speaker, Murtaza Javed Abbasi, while responding to the PkMAP chief, said that the bill had been introduced and referred to the concerned Standing Committee of Ministry of Law and Justice.

The PkMAP chief, on the remarks of the deputy speaker, pointed out lack of quorum in the house.

Perhaps, this was the first time the in four years that the senior lawmaker pointed out lack of required strength in the house.  He, and the JUI-F chief, Maulana Fazlur Rahman, had on several occasions opposed the idea of merger of the Fata with the KP.

The deputy speaker, who chaired the session, adjourned the proceedings of the house, as around 25 MNAs out of 342 were present at the time of counting.

The “Statement of objects and reasons” of the bill says “in order to bring the people of [the] Fata into the mainstream in accordance with their wishes and aspirations, it is necessary that the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and [the] Islamabad High Court should be extended to such areas for safeguarding their rights and providing them proper administration of justice in accordance with the constitution.”

The Clause-1 “Extension of jurisdiction of supreme court” says, “The Supreme Court shall have, in relation to the Fata , the same jurisdiction as it has in relation to the Islamabad Capital Territory”.

The Clause-2 “Extension of jurisdiction of High Court”, “[The] Islamabad High Court shall have, in relation to the Fata , the same jurisdiction as it has in relation to the Islamabad Capital Territory”.

The federal cabinet last Tuesday had approved placing the Fata bill before the parliament to extend jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the Islamabad High Court to the tribal areas.

The cabinet decided that after passage of the bills, abolition of the FCR, extension of jurisdiction of the superior courts and implementation of normal laws of the country will be enforced in the tribal areas in a phased manner.

The government, despite having two-third majority, due to lack of required strength in the house did a hat-trick of not completing quorum.

“The right of access to information bill, 2017” was mentioned in the agenda but due to lack of required strength the item could not be taken up.  The government wants to pass the bill with a majority but is facing the issue of required strength to run proceedings of the house.

The government and opposition lawmakers last Monday delivered fiery speeches on the plight Rohingyas in Myanmar but have failed to get passed the resolution on it for the last three days due to lack of required strength in the house.

The house also could not able to conduct debate on the address of President Mamnoon Hussain. Hussain addressed both houses on June 1st 2017.