KP Assembly to vote FATA bill today as JUI-F, PATA members express reservations

KP Assembly to vote FATA bill today as JUI-F, PATA members express reservations

PESHAWAR: Lawmakers of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl and Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) have expressed their reservations over the FATA-KP merger bill which will be presented in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly today (Sunday). 

The JUI-F lawmakers started reaching the assembly building Sunday morning to besiege it in protest. 

On the other hand, KP Assembly has summoned a session at 2pm today where the bill is likely to be passed, while the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led provincial government started contacts with the lawmakers to resolve the building crisis.

It has been learnt that 24 MPAs from Malakand Division have expressed their reservations over the content of the bill.

The Pata lawmakers maintain that inclusion of Pata in Fata-KP merger is unjustifiable, and if the government wants to change the status of Pata it should announce a monetary package for the area.

Meanwhile, KP minister Shaukat Yousafzai has met Federal Law Minister Zafarullah Khan and apprised him on the issues the provincial government is facing in getting the bill passed from the assembly.

Yousufzai has told media that the federal government has promised to resolve the concerns raised by Pata lawmakers.

PATA, FATA be declared tax-free for 10 years: Asad Qaiser

The concerns of Pata lawmakers have been taken up in a letter that KP Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser wrote to National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, demanding Pata and Fata be declared as tax-free zones for at least 10 years.

Qaiser has stated that Fata and Pata have been exempted from taxes since a long time, which is fair as the areas are badly affected by insurgencies and internal displacement of people due to military operations and natural calamities.

Since the constitutional amendment, would result in withdrawal of tax exemptions from the tribal areas, MPAs from Pata have shown concern over passage of the bill, the letter reads.

The concerns of MPAs from Pata could hinder the bill from getting the support of two-third of the majority in the provincial assembly.

Therefore, Qaiser has requested Sadiq to provide the sought exemptions on an urgent basis before voting starts on the amended bill in KP Assembly

Thirty-First Amendment Act, 2018

National Assembly and Senate has already passed the bill titled Thirty-First Amendment Act, 2018, paving way for the merger. In the lower house, the bill was moved by Minister for Law and Justice Chaudhry Mahmood Bashir Virk. 

Two hundred and twenty-nine parliamentarians voted in favour of the constitutional amendment while one voted against it. The bill was opposed by government-allied parties JUI-F and Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP).

In Senate, 71 lawmakers voted in favor of the bill while five opposed the constitutional amendment.