ISLAMABAD -  Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz yesterday the National Assembly that he was optimistic that the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) people will elect their representatives to the provincial assembly in the next general elections.

“I am optimistic that Fata people will elect their representatives to the provincial assembly in 2018 general elections, otherwise, it will be too late,” Aziz said while winding up a debate on a report of the Fata reforms committee.

“If Fata did not get representation in the provincial assembly in the next elections, he feared, the matter might delay for another five years till the 2023 general elections.

While talking about the concerns raised by MNAs regarding two parallel laws, Aziz said that a provision of “Riwaj law” had also been introduced in reforms as those who want to settle their disputes through ‘Jirga’ instead of courts, can go for the provision. “Work has also been initiated for introducing the local government system in Fata,” he said.

“All the recommendations of the committee would be presented before the cabinet for approval within two weeks before bringing it to parliament for legislation,” he said.

Aziz said that the government will make all out effort to introduce reforms including education, health and development facilities in Fata at par with the settled areas. 

While talking about the split opinion of Fata MNAs about the merger of Fata with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, he said that majority of the members wanted the merger of tribal agencies with the province.

Aziz said that the government will make all-out efforts to settle the internally displaced persons, reconstruct the damaged areas and infrastructure development to bring Fata at par with other areas of KP.  The adviser also spoke in favour of enhancing allocations for FATA from Rs20 billion to Rs90 billion.

Earlier, lawmakers from FATA supported the recommendations mentioned in the committee report except for expressing reservations about the population, the report carried.

Parliamentary leader of Fata legislators Shah G Gul Afridi spoke against two parallel laws in the country. “How can we progress in this situation, rather we may become Somalia,” he said.  Afridi strongly supported the committee recommendations saying “it should be implemented in letter and spirit”.

Another lawmaker Jamaluddin Afghani was of the view that majority of the people in FATA were not in favour of merger of Fata with KP.

JI Sahibzada Tariq Ullah, however, supported the merger saying, “It should be implemented before the 2018 general elections,” he said, lauding the committee members on Fata reforms, who prepared a comprehensive report.