ISLAMABAD - The federal cabinet on Thursday approved placement of the “Federally Administrated Tribal Areas Reforms Bill” in the National Assembly, paving the way for its merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhaw.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired the federal cabinet meeting. “The federal cabinet approved placement of FATA Reforms Bill in the National Assembly,” said an official statement.

An earlier meeting of the PM and parliamentary leaders could not break the impasse on FATA reforms as the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) had refused to show flexibility on the merger of tribal areas into the KP province.

The JUI-F and the PkMAP, both allies of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, oppose mainstreaming the FATA before the upcoming general election and granting seats to these areas in the provincial legislature. The JUI-F and the 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 province to streamline the tribal belt.

A participant of the meeting told The Nation that the PM wanted to compete the FATA mainstreaming before the government’s term ends on May 31. “The PM is confident that he will placate the allies on the issue,” he said.

The federal cabinet also approved the establishment of a medical city in Islamabad. An agreement between governments of Pakistan and Russia on settlement of mutual financial claims and the obligations on operations of the former USSR was also approved.

The cabinet approved amendment in policy of commercial import of arms and ammunitions, placement of National Disaster Management Authority under the Prime Minister Office and amendment in Master Plan of the Capital Development Authority, in Sub-Zone C of Zone IV of Islamabad.

The federal cabinet approved signing of agreement on technical cooperation between Pakistan and Brazil, and a memorandum of understanding between National Vocational and Technical Training Commission and Territory and Vocational Education Commission of Sri Lanka.

The cabinet gave approval of Managing Director, Pakistan Software Export Board, MP-I Scale under Ministry of Information, Technology and Telecommunication and also amendment in Section 5 and Section 6 of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Ordinance, 2002 as Amended vide PEMRA (Amendment) Act, 2007.

The cabinet approved appointment of date of coming into force of the University of Baltistan Order, 2016, ratification of notifications of tariff decisions by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority issued by Power Division, implementation of Peshawar High Court Judgment in Writ Petition No4169 P/2015 on 31-01-2018, and deletion of Synthetic Fiber Development and Application Centre and Plastic Technology Centre Karachi from the Administrative Control of Textile Division.

The federal cabinet also gave approval to the signing of MoU on water resources management between the governments of Pakistan and Australia, ratification of the decisions taken by Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases in its meeting held on May 9, and approval for Legislation for the establishment of Al-Karam International Institute, Bhera and placement of the bill before the parliament.

The cabinet approved formation of a committee for implementation of the orders of Supreme Court, in Human Rights Case No623-P/2017 (in the Matter of Substandard Cardiac Stents).