ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Thursday passed a constitutional amendment with a 229 vote in favour, approving the much-awaited merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
The bill was presented by Law Minister Chaudhary Mahmood Bashir Virk with only eight days remaining in the tenure of the National Assembly. The voting was held on each clause separately. 229 members of the assembly voted in favour of the introduction of the bill while 11 others voted against it.
As expected, JUI-F and PkMAP opposed the bill when it was tabled with MQM announcing its support after expressing its reservations.
MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar said that his party is supporting the bill “for the sake of political unity”. However, he clarified that his party still believes that Fata should be turned into a separate province.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) legislators walked out of the assembly ahead of the vote. Dawar Kundi from the PTI was the sole dissenting vote in the final count.
Senate will review the bill and give assent on Friday (tomorrow). The government, opposition laud parliament for coming together to make legislation for Fata.
Recalling that the struggle had taken four years, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi thanked the opposition benches for voting in favour of the “historic” bill.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan, who came to the assembly after two yars and had addressed the parliament right before Abbasi, had also congratulated parliament on coming together despite the differences between the ruling and the opposition parties.
Khan deviated from the topic at hand, in what seemed to be a bid to explain his prolonged absence from the house.
In response to allegations of ‘engineered’ sit-ins, Khan said his party had staged the 2014 sit-in after parliament’s failure to listen to its grievance.
“We did not get any response from the National Assembly and other institutions,” he said. “After a year [of waiting for a response] we held the sit-in,” he said.