ISLAMABAD - The Senate on Friday unanimously passed “The Supreme Court and High Court (Extension Jurisdiction to Federally Administered Tribal Areas) Bill, 2018.”

Moved by Law Minister Mahmood Bashir Virk, the bill is aimed at extending the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the Peshawar High Court to Fata.

Senate Chairman Muhammad Sadiq Khan Sanjranai signed the bill after it was approved by the Senate and sent it to the President for his assent. The Bill has been pending with the Senate since its approval by the National Assembly in January this year.

The federal cabinet had approved the extension of the SC and Islamabad High Court (IHC) to FATA in September last year but the NA Standing Committee on Law and Justice later changed it to the PHC from IHC on the request of MNAs from FATA saying it would be extremely cumbersome for residents of FATA to travel to the federal capital for justice.

Before tabling the bill, Senate’s Committee of the Whole deliberated on it with some members proposing more amendments but they had to drop their proposals on the request of the members from treasury benches that the bill will be further delayed because it will have to be sent back to the National Assembly again for approval.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) Lt. Gen (Retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch said it is a great development to free the people of FATA from Frontier Crimes Regulation.

He assured the Senate that the government was serious in its commitment to ensure the merger of FATA with KP.

On the other hand, members from Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) opposed the bill. Members from Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) staged their walk to protest the development.

JUI-F Senator Maulana Attaur Rehman while criticising the move said the decision to approve the bill is against the people of FATA. “The parliament is losing its dignity," he remarked.

He complained that both the government and the opposition have brought the bill in the House on behest of someone else.

Extension of courts' jurisdiction is part of FATA reforms and one of the 20 points of the National Action Plan (NAP) developed to counter terrorism in the country.

Later, the Senate Chairman has also formed a special committee to look into the matter raised by Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah regarding acute water shortage in Sindh due to non-implementation of Water Accord 1991.

The committee was formed with the consent of the Leader of the House and Leader of the opposition.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Shaikh Aftab Ahmed while responding to a calling attention notice moved by Mian Raza Rabbani and Sassui Palijo assured the House that no changes are being made in 18th Amendment of the constitution.

The Minister said the unanimously passed 18th amendment is a marvellous achievement of political parties for which Mian Raza Rabbani’s contribution is commendable.

Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani also admitted an adjournment motion moved by Dr Sikandar Mandhro to discuss the report that Pakistan will run out of forests within next 50 years if deforestation continues at the current rate.

The House has now been prorogued sine die.