ISLAMABAD - President Mamnoon Hussain on Thursday signed the 31st Constitutional Amendment that completes the process of historic merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The President, who signed the bill to make it a law during a simple ceremony held at the Aiwan-e- Sadr, congratulated the people of tribal region on becoming part of the province.

The President expressed the confidence that merger of FATA into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would lead to stability in the region.

The signing ceremony was also attended by Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Barrister Zafarullah and National Security Advisor Nasser Khan Janjua.

The move comes hours before the incumbent government is scheduled to end its five-year term.

After securing two-thirds majority from both the National Assembly and the Senate, the bill was also passed by KP Assembly on May 27 with 92-7 votes amid protests.

Proposed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the bill aims at speeding up of mainstreaming the tribal areas. The bill received staunch opposition from the ruling party’s strongest allies, Jamiat Ulema-e Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP).

The Senate of Pakistan had received the bill from the Ministry of Law and Justice after its passage from the KP’s provincial assembly on May 28.  Accordingly, the Senate chairman had authenticated the bill and sent it to the president for assent under Article 75 of the Constitution.

Former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Pervez Khattak has written a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) requesting that the procedure for provincial assembly elections in KP be devised and outlined in time so that elections in former Fata region are held along with the general elections.

He pointed out that any delay in the provincial assembly elections will give birth to complex issues.

“It is the right of the people of Fata and their chosen representatives be given the opportunity to contest for the posts of Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Chief Minister,” Khattak asserted.

If elections do not take place timely in the Fata region, the provincial assembly shall stand incomplete, he said.

Former Chief Minister Khattak urged that just as the Fata-KP merger was an area of concern deserving enormous attention, the matter of provincial assembly elections in Fata merits scrutiny with utmost urgency.