ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Thursday failed to convince his allies, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PkhMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai, on the merger of the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas into the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

The PM, who has only a few days left in the offices, chaired a meeting of parliamentary leaders and representatives of various political parties to discuss the fate of the tribal belt. “Matters relating to the implementation of the Fata reforms were discussed during the meeting,” said an official statement.

Sources told The Nation that while all the parties agreed to expedite the Fata merger into the KP province, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chiefs refused to change their stance.

The JUI-F and the PkMAP, both allies of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, oppose the mainstreaming the Fata before the upcoming general election and granting seats to these areas in the provincial legislature. The JUI-F and PkMAP leaders have demanded a referendum in Fata to resolve the issue. Other treasury and opposition parties support the merger of Fata into the KP to streamline the tribal belt.

This week, Prime Minister Abbasi expressed optimism to streamline Fata before bowing out. The term of the government ends on May 31. The PM is optimistic that the Fata issue will be resolved during the term of the incumbent government. “There will be other meetings to evolve a consensus on the Fata reforms. The PM and the ministers are hopeful this issue will be resolved soon,” said a participant of the recent cabinet meeting.

Thursday’s meeting was attended by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazalur Rehman, Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Opposition Leader in the National Party Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah, PkMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Minister of Housing and Works Akram Khan Durrani, Minister of State Ghalib Khan, Sartaj Aziz, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, Syed Naveed Qamar, Dr Farooq Sattar, Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, Nasir Khan, Sahibzada Tariq Ullah, Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Abdul Qadir Baloch, Murtaza Javed Abbasi and Shah Jee Gul Afridi.

A participant of the meeting said that the JUI-F and PkMAP showed no flexibility and the PM was expected to call more meetings to resolve the issue.

PM Abbasi told the parliamentary leaders that he would present the issue before the central executive committee meeting of the PML-N.

The premier said that he would inform the parliamentary leaders about his party’s CEC meeting’s decision regarding the Fata reforms implementation.

There were also speculations that the government may, in the end, decide to merge Fata into KP through a presidential order.

 

 

SHAFQAT ALI