ISLAMABAD - Heads of parliamentary parties on Saturday discussed the ‘FATA reforms bill, 2018’, which is likely to be presented in the National Assembly on Monday (tomorrow).

The huddle held at the Parliament House discussed the option of FATA’s merger with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and its mainstreaming.

The meeting was attended by Opposition Leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman, Jamaat-e-Islami leader Sahibzada Tariqullah, Qaumi Watan Party chief Aftab Sherpao, FATA MNA G.G Jamal and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmaker Shireen Mazari.

The parliamentary parties’ leaders decided to discuss different clauses of the bill with their respective party heads and senior members to share their stance during the legislation of the bill [on Monday]. The parliamentary parties’ heads will once again meet on Monday morning before the start of the National Assembly session.

The National Assembly had already witnessed a heated debate on FATA reforms as JUI-F chief Fazlur Rahman had warned the government against taking a step to FATA with KP.

The JUI-F and PkMAP chiefs (both allied partner of the PML-N government) had strongly opposed the move for taking immediate steps for the merger of FATA with KP.

Minister for State and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch, on the floor of the National Assembly, had assured that there was no plan for the immediate merger of FATA with KP. “We (government) had promised the merger of FATA within five years not after five years,” he had said.  The PML-N government is also set to call a meeting of the Council of Common Interests next week to finalize the FATA reforms package.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had pushed the FATA reforms process announcing that the process of bringing the tribal areas into the national mainstream will be completed in the next four weeks.

Local bodies’ elections in FATA will be held in October for the first time to have a representative forum. The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the Peshawar High Court had already been extended to FATA.

The prime minister, on the floor of the National Assembly,  had committed that FATA would be brought at par with other parts of the country and for that purpose, in addition to the current allocations, Rs1,000 billion would be required in the next 10 years.

The Fata Reforms Implementation Committee has decided to spend Rs1 trillion in the tribal areas over the next 10 years and this will be in addition to the annual development budget,” the PM had said.

Political pundits believe that the government needs sufficient majority in the House for constitutional amendment related to FATA reform. The opposition parties support will be required to pass the constitutional amendment.