While talking to a delegation of FATA youth, PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, assured the members that there was a complete consensus between the provincial government of KP and Federation on merging FATA with KP. Contrary to his guarantees to the delegation the process of the merger has not a smooth one, and “complete consensus” still remains elusive as ever.

The government has failed to take its allied parties, i.e., JUI-F and PkMap on board. While the government is struggling to persuade its allies on the proposed merger, the grounds of opposition to the merger by these two parties are yet to be known.

Msulana Fazl-ur-Rehman has been saying that ‘at this point merger is not right’ and calling it a fraud without shedding any light on the ‘bogus scheme’. While these are clearly not legitimate arguments, his opposition or for that matter that of PkMap’s to making FATA part of KP is still an enduring problem for the government.

The merger of tribal areas is one of the very few subjects where on the federal level the opposition is in consensus with the treasury benches. Without any further delay, the government in consultation with the opposition should start the process so that people of the area can enjoy the fruits of socio-political uplift in the near future. After all, the delegation’s argument is not wrong one that says that the government should not discard the wishes of tribal people for the sake of a few individuals in the power corridors – in this case the JUI-F.

Similarly, JI FATA Chief, Sardar Shah’s concern is also a valid one that merger of FATA in phases is just another delaying tactic. The people of the region, as well as the political parties including the youth wings all, want a swift merger. If the government fails in doing so, people will become skeptical of the federation’s seriousness in changing the kismet of tribal areas. So the question that needs an answer is, considering the views taken by JI and JUI-F on mainstreaming FATA, which are poles apart, what is the exact timeframe for the merger now that there is ‘consensus’?