ISLAMABAD: Fata parliamentarians in both houses of Parliament on Monday demanded merger of the tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and informed that a bill would be introduced in the National Assembly and Senate seeking drastic amendments in Articles 246 and 247 of Constitutions pertaining to the seven tribal areas.

Speaking at a news conference here at the Parliament Lodges, Parliamentary Leader of Fata lawmakers in the National Assembly Shah Ji Gul Afridi and parliamentary leader of Fata Senators in Senate Senator Hidayatullah Khan sounded rebellions against the present status of tribal areas.

Sharing copies of the 22nd Constitutional Amendment bill with journalists to be presented in respective secretariat of Parliament today (Tuesday), the 19 Fata parliamentarians said the bill would successfully sail through the parliament keeping in view the assurances given by various political parties, including PTI, PML-N and PPP.

“We have come to the conclusion that the century-old rules (FCR) are not compatible with the people of Fata. We are part of Pakistan and our people deserve to be brought at par with people in rest of country. Fata should be no more controlled through Governor KP. Let our people live under the system prevailing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” MNA Shah Ji Gul Afridi told the news conference.

The proposed bill to be called Constitution (Twenty-Second Amendment) Bill 2015 will be submitted to the National Assembly Secretariat for the first time regarding status change of Fata. All parliamentarians from Fata have unanimously decided to mobilise all the political parties to ensure two-third majority for the passage of the bill.

“We (tribal people) don’t want to be called ‘aliens’ and the Fata should no more be called Alaqa-e-Ghair (land of non-citizens). Those who consider the people of Fata as citizens of Pakistan should support our bill in the parliament or otherwise we would have no option but to launch a movement across the Fata,” said Shah Jee Gul Afridi, parliamentary leader of Fata lawmakers in National Assembly in a press conference.

Flanked by ruling PML-N MNA from Bajaur Agency Shahabuddin Khan, MNA from Kurram Agency Sajid Hussain Turi, MNA from Orakzai Agency Ghazi Gulab Jamal, Senator Hidayat Ullah from Bajaur Agency, Senator Taj Mohammad Afridi from Khyber Agency and others, Shah Jee Gul Afridi maintained that all the MNAs and senators from Fata, including from PML-N, PTI and JUI-F have unanimously agreed on draft of the bill.

In the bill three basic amendments have been proposed, including omission of clause (C) in Article 1 sub-clause (2) which mentioned “the Federally Administered Tribal Areas” as being the territories of Pakistan. The bill proposes that Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) should be incorporated in the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) under Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. 

In another amendment proposed in Article 246, the bill proposes that tribal areas adjoining Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, D.I.Khan districts as well as Bajaur, Orakzai, Mohmand, Khyber, Kurram, North Waziristan, South Waziristan agencies should be added in clause (b) of the said article to bring these areas under PATA.

In Article 247, the bill proposes an amendment to shift the executive authority from federation to the province and also proposes that the Supreme Court and a high court shall exercise jurisdiction under the constitution in relation to a tribal area as may be provided by the law.

“Our sole purpose of bringing the 22nd amendment in the constitution is to bring the tribal areas into the mainstream and to give the tribesmen a sense of ownership,” Afridi said, adding they had also sought separate meetings with the Prime Minister, President, Army Chief and DG ISI to take them into confidence and sought their support.

He said that the Fata which has been the worst victim of militancy needed urgent attention. “We also want to tell the world that the international war is being fought in tribal areas and they should not abandon the areas the way they abandoned Afghanistan after disintegration of Russian Federation,” he added.