Islamabad - The federal cabinet will meet today to take important decisions over the fate of Fata, as representatives from the tribal region yesterday urged the government to merge the hilly belt into the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will chair the cabinet meeting, The Nation has learnt.

Officials said the government had decided to approve the merger but was hoping to win the support of allies who had differences on the issue.

Demanding merger with KP, a massive gathering of residents of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) at Convention Centre in Islamabad warned on Monday to march on Islamabad on March 12 if government failed to approve the Fata reforms report.

The Fata rights convention, attended by parliamentarians and tribal elders, issued a declaration demanding the implementation of the Fata reforms.

The reforms report calls for ending Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) through extension of country’s judicial system to Fata, besides merger of Fata into KP.

Some political parties and groups, especially government allies JUI-F of Fazlur Rehman and PkMAP of Mahmood Khan Achakzai, are opposing the adoption of the comprehensive report prepared by Sartaj Aziz-led Fata Reforms Committee.

Addressing on the occasion Fata parliamentarians demanded the federal government merge tribal areas into KP to bring them at par with settled districts.

“We will make Islamabad another ‘Tahrir Square’ and would not allow government to work”, warned Haji Shah Ji Gul Afridi, MNA from Khyber Agency and the convenor of the tribal convention.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz tabled the final report on Fata reforms before the parliament recommending its merger into the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

But in the last cabinet meeting, the government had decided to hold further consultations on the Fata reforms package to evolve consensus before its implementation, noting the reservations of its allies – JUI-F and PkMAP.

Addressing the convention, Shah Ji Afridi said that tribal people have rendered matchless sacrifices for the establishment of Pakistan.

Organised by the sitting MPs from Fata the tribal convention was attended and addressed by former parliamentarians, tribal chiefs, political activists, lawyers and students from Fata.

At the outset participants of the convention started slogans of ‘Go FCR Go’ and ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ and criticised JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman and PkMAP chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai for opposing the Fata reforms process and asked them to refrain from influencing the reforms process.

PPP former MNA from Bajaur Agency, Akhunzada Khan Chattan said that such a huge gathering of tribal people in Islamabad has proved that tribal people are united for reforms in Fata. However, he said that those who are benefiting from FCR law are against the reforms.

MNA Shahabud Din said that Fazl and Achakzai were seen nowhere when tribal people were suffering due to military operations against militants. He said the pair has no right to decide the future of tribal people.

Tribal women leader Sakeena Mohmand emphasised the need for ensuring the tribal women rights in Fata reforms.

He also announced declaration of the convention which called upon the government to implement report of Aziz-led committee.

It demanded that Fata should be given representation in the provincial assembly in 2018 elections and local government elections be held after 2018 general elections.

It called for 6 percent share for Fata in the next NFC Award, besides a special development plan for the tribal areas.

The convention demanded that remaining displaced persons should be repatriated and every family should be paid Rs2.5 million compensation. It also demanded compensation against destroyed markets and commercial properties.

The convention also called upon the government to establish special tax free industrial zones in all tribal agencies.

For the welfare of the youth, it demanded more scholarships, laptops and sports facilities, increase in federal jobs for Fata, and 30,000 vacancies in the Levies force.

The convention also asked government to announce special agriculture package for the farmers and write off the loans of the operation-hit farmers.

Earlier, QWP chief Aftab Ahmed Sherpao had warned the government was losing credibility for delaying Fata-KP merger, which he believed was a “settled issue”.

Yesterday, JUI-F Fata chief Mufti Abdul Shakoor said the proposed merger would be a ‘fraud’ with the people living in the tribal areas.