Press Trust of india

Pak’s Senate votes to merge FATA with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa  

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Islamabad, May 25 (PTI) Pakistan’s Senate today endorsed a Constitutional amendment seeking to merge the restive tribal region along the Afghanistan border with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in the northwest, a day after the historic move was  overwhelmingly passed by the National Assembly.

The 31st constitutional amendment bill was moved in the 104-memebr Senate by Law Minister Bashir Virk to merge Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa after months of delays following disagreements between coalition partners and the opposition over its clauses.

The amendment was passed with a 229-1 vote in the National Assembly yesterday, bringing an end to 150-year-old British-era arrangement.

The bill which needed 69 votes was supported by 71 Senators while only five members opposed it. The opposition came from Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP).

Another party which opposed was Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F). It boycotted the voting on the bill by staging a walk out.

The bill will now be presented in the assembly of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province as it aims to change the territory of the province by merger of tribal region into it.

According to the Constitution, any change in the territory of a province must be passed with two-thirds majority by the assembly of the respective province.

It is a race against time as provincial assembly will complete its tenure on May 28 and the bill should be presented and passed before that.

Since Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), which supported the bill in the national parliament, is in majority in the province and also has support of other parties, the merger law is expected to be passed easily.

Finally, the president will sign the bill passed by the federal parliament and provincial legislature to become part of the law.

The semi-autonomous tribal region was created by British government as a buffer between India and Afghanistan.

The tribal areas currently consist of seven districts which stretch along the border with Afghanistan, and became known to the world due to presence of militants who fled the porous border after the US forces invaded Afghanistan after 9/11 attack.

Pakistan forces launched repeated military operation to clear the areas of rebels and dismantle their hideouts which were used to launch attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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