The latest news report on the issue of merger suggests that the ruling party has made up its mind to introduce the controversial FATA merger bill in the National Assembly today. However, it is unfortunate to note that the ruling party failed to table the bill after prayers break. The reason for not tabling the bill was lack of quorum in the house. This means that parliamentarians lack seriousness and commitment to change the status of FATA. The advocates of the merger are making the task easy for those who think of merger as “a foreign agenda”– an argument Moulana Fazl-ur-Rehman frequently uses when he is short on political argument.

The sources say that in the upcoming session of the house the bill will be the first thing that will be introduced in the house. Let us hope that the sources prove true. Moreover, the government should face no hindrance in passing the bill from the house. Though two main allies of the government, i.e., Moulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, leader of Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI-F), and Mahmoud Khan Achakzai, Chairman of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), are not supportive of the government’s initiative to mainstream the region, the two main opposition parties are in full support of the government to merge the area with KPK. The government can easily secure a two-thirds majority for its bill that will propose the merger of the two areas.

The content of the bill suggests progressive steps on behalf of the government, which may benefit the people of the area. Some of the proposed measures include allocation of seats, i.e. 23 members from the region in the provincial assembly of KP in the upcoming elections, holding of local government elections in the tribal areas in October 2019. Over 100 laws will become applicable to the region if the bill is passed.

While the government can be rightly criticised for the delays in the way of the merger of the two areas, as it steadily succumbed to the pressure of its allies on the issue, nevertheless it has taken the first concrete step in this regard. It is evident that other required steps for smooth operations of administrative affairs will take some time. The next government will oversee the half-completed task of the present government. While the bill would come into effect one year after its passage, possibilities of delays because of administrative issues should not be excluded. Nevertheless, it is not wrong to say that if the government gets succeeded in winning a majority for its proposed bill, it will be a landmark day in the constitutional history of Pakistan.