ISLAMABAD - Several members of the National Assembly from to Fata are mulling breaking their alliance with the government in case their demands regarding the merger of the tribal region with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and development funds are not met.

The MNAs from the tribal belt are intending to submit an application to the NA Secretariat seeking seats on the opposition benches.

A day earlier, several Fata senators of Independent Group, headed by Parliamentary Leader Senator Hidayat Ullah Khan, summated their application to the Senate Secretariat seeking allocation of seats on the opposition benches against what they called the government’s anti-Pakhtun policies,” especially in the Punjab.

As per the impression left by the background discussions with Fata lawmakers, the decision to tender resignations or become part of the opposition benches will be taken on March 12. Some of the Fata MNAs were of the view that the merger of Fata with KP and demand for development funds had been put in cold storage by the government. “I have asked my colleagues to tender resignation if the demands regarding the allocation of funds are rejected. This is my clear stance as I don’t believe on ‘ifs and buts’,” said a Fata MNA belonging to the treasury benches, while talking to The Nation. The lawmaker had registered his protest in the last National Assembly session by wearing a black ribbon around his mouth.

Another MNA, Sajid Toori, said the matter regarding the merger of Fata with KP had been half addressed by the government, but the implementation is still awaited. “Now the real issue is the allocation of funds,” said Toori.

He said some of Fata MNAs had advised senators to submit the application to the Senate Secretariat for allocation of seats on the opposition benches. “Yes, we are also chalking out a strategy to submit an application in the National Assembly (NA) Secretariat about the allocation of seats on opposition benches if our demands are not met,” he said.

Fata Senator Sajjad Hussain Toori said non-allocation of funds for Fata parliamentarians was a big issue. “This needs to be addressed by the government,” said Toori.

On March 12, Fata MNAs gave the government a deadline on the floor of the house to include a report on Fata reforms on the agenda of the federal cabinet.

“The people of tribal areas will march on Islamabad if their demands are not met by March 12,” FAta Parliamentary Leader in NA Shah G Gul Afridi had said.

The Fata parliamentarians had also intended to call an all parties conference on Fata reforms issue, but they postponed the idea.

There is also a division among Fata members about the merger of the region with KP as some of them only spoke about allocation of funds.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in a bid to appease Fat parliamentarians, had also announced to discuss ‘Fata reforms package’ in a separate cabinet meeting. But this offer could not appease the Fata parliamentarians as they demand practical steps.

 

JAVAID-UR-RAHMAN