The National Assembly Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions revealed on Monday that all the stakeholders involved in the discussions of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP) merger were not ready to take responsibility of the complete action – delaying the merger process indefinitely.

This is a singularly disappointing revelation. The discussions have been going on for the last four years and it is time that we move forward towards actual implementation of the merger. All the consensus building that was done during the tenure is going to be wasted if the members do not look past minor policy conflicts and push for the merger.

The Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) bill has become redundant, and it is widely accepted that for the tribal areas to witness development, they have to be integrated into the network of the country and seek benefits. KP has already been promised a larger share in the NFC award and FATA has been awarded seats in the KP provincial assembly – but without a prompt implementation plan, none of these changes will accrue before the next election.

One of the major problem is that the members of the committee refrain from adopting the Rewaj Bill, and instead suggest widely differing alternative ideas – from the adoption of the Sharia to a compete merger with national laws. While reservations against the Rewaj bill’s partial steps are merited, the stakeholders must realize that the time for novel suggestions and wholesale changes is long past; this time they must stay within the framework of the bill and push for amendments

However not everyone can be pleased during the process. The government needs to realize that sometimes it cannot have a unanimous consensus between all stakeholders. If it has to, it should go with what the majority wants and consider leaving some stakeholders unhappy. A FATA-KP merger is quite necessary for the stability of the country at the moment.