A meeting of the federal cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday gave its consent to the recommendations made by the FATA reforms committee.
Addressing his cabinet ministers, the PM stressed the need for focusing on underdeveloped areas to improve the living standards of the people. He added that the people of Azad Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan and FATA will be given their due share from the national resources.
The set of reforms for FATA were recommended by a six-member committee headed by Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz. The committee’s report had earlier been removed from the cabinet’s agenda for its Feb 7 meeting, drawing strong criticism from supporters of the merger plan.
Major political parties and FATA parliamentarians had announced a protest outside the Parliament House on March 12, against the delay in approval of the committee’s report.
The Jamaat-i-Islami had also staged a protest sit-in outside the Governor’s House in Peshawar on Feb 26. The protest was called off after Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra assured the protesters that the cabinet would approve the committee’s report before March 12.
Besides JI, other parties, including the Awami National Party, Qaumi Watan Party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and PPP had also demanded the immediate merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the abolition of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), and the representation of tribes in the KP Assembly.
The JUI-F and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, another ally of the PML-N in the federal government, had opposed significant parts of the committee’s report, including the merger of FATA with KP.
JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman had recently claimed that he had reached an understanding with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on FATA reforms. He had said that the word ‘merger’ would be replaced with the ‘mainstreaming’ of FATA.
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