NA body approves increase in national, provincial seats of tribal districts

PESHAWAR: The Standing Committee of the National Assembly on Law and Justice Tuesday approved increase in the national and provincial assembly seats of the tribal districts.

The committee approved an amendment bill which recommended increase of tribal districts’ seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly from 16 to 20 and National Assembly seats from six to nine.

The meeting of the committee was chaired by Riaz Fatyana, while Attaullah, Muhammad Farooq Azam Malik, Kishwar Zehra, Maleeka Ali Bokhari, Muhammad Sanaullah Khan Mastikhel, Malik Muhammad Ehsanullah Tiwana, Sher Ali Arbab, Shunila Ruth, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Syed Hussain Tariq, Nafeesa Shah, Naveed Qamar, Aliya Kamran, Sajid Khan and Mohsin Dawar attended the meeting. Law Minister Farogh Naseem and officials of his ministry, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Secretary Babar Yaqoob and representatives of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) were also present in the meeting.

Nine members of the committee voted in favour of the amended bill, while the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML N) members voted against it.

The ECP secretary said currently elections are scheduled for 16 provincial seats in the tribal districts. He said the ECP will proceed as per the Constitution. He said the Election Commission was ready to hold polls for as many seats as have been agreed. However, he said the election schedule will be changed if new delimitation takes place through a constitutional amendment and the commission has the powers to change the election dates.

Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri expressed support for the move and said it will address the sense of deprivation of people of the tribal districts.

Malik Ehsanullah Tiwana of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said the PPP and the PML-N were opposing the bill because it was moved by the PTI.

Mohsin Dawar of the PTM said his party was ready to bear the consequences if elections were delayed for increase in seats.

The PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique said his party would oppose the amendment as the election schedule has been issued already. The PPP’s Naveed Qamar said the amendment after the release of the election schedule would make the process complex.