Rs 100 bln will be spent

Rs 100 bln will be spent every year on development of tribal districts: NA told

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The House has now started discussion on “The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2019 aimed at increasing the number of tribal districts’ seats in the National Assembly and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak said the National Assembly is going to pass a constitutional amendment bill unanimously on Monday to increase the number of seats for former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) both in the national and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies.

He said this while taking part in the debate after introduction of the bill at the floor of the lower house in the Parliament.

The bill would be passed on the demand of the elected representatives and people of tribal areas so that they would not have sense of deprivation, he said.

The debate on the bill was formally opened by MNA Mohsin Dawar who had introduced the bill seeking amendment in Articles 51 and 106 of the Constitution.

He said he had suggested in the bill to retain 12 seats of National Assembly which were reduced to six after merger of FATA in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and to increase general seats for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly from 16 to 24.

Dawar said Standing Committee on Law and Justice had approved the bill with amendments and proposed to increase Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly general seats from 16 to 20 and National Assembly seats from six to nine. However, seats would be more than decided in the committee.

Pervez Khattak said people of FATA areas always expressed their affiliation with Pakistan, adding it was satisfying that the Frontier Crimes Regulation which was used to oppress people, was abolished.

He said FATA was rich with natural and mineral resources and its merger would bring prosperity and development and improve living standard of the people.

During the British era, FATA was a buffer zone between Pakistan and Afghanistan and people of the area protected borders of the country, he observed.

He said the proposal to give three percent share of National Finance Commission (NFC) award to erstwhile FATA should be supported, adding the tribal areas would get funds of Rs1,000 billion in ten years after allocation of share through NFC.

He said the provincial government was working to build institutions in the seven districts of FATA areas, adding schools, colleges, universities and water and electricity supply schemes would be undertaken and job opportunities would be created in the long neglected areas.

Local bodies system would be introduced in September-October this year in tribal areas and 30 percent of funds out of Rs100 billion every year would be spent through the local elected representatives.

Parliamentary leader of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz Khawaja Asif said the tribal areas went through great difficulties in the last four decades and were ravaged by war, terrorism and chaos.

In the decade of 1980s, Pakistan was affected due to proxy wars of super powers and wars across the border in Afghanistan. War and terrorism affected Karachi, Waziristan, Lahore, Swat, Gilgit and other areas throughout Pakistan, he lamented.

Two dictators for the sake of prolonging their rule and for their personal interests dragged Pakistan into wars, he said. He said after merger of erstwhile FATA into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, people of the area should be compensated for their sufferings and eviction from homes.

MNA Sajid Hussain Turi said the changes in the Constitution for merger of former FATA were approved by the last Parliament.

Due to conflict, the economy of tribal areas was destroyed and should be given three percent share in the NFC award which amounted to funds of Rs100 billion every year. MNA Mufti Shakoor thanked all the parties for supporting the bill for increase in seats. He recalled that people of FATA areas were bathed in blood and had to bear difficult conditions as several operations including Ruddul Fasaad and Zarb-e-Azb and combing operations were conducted by security forces.

He pointed out that the areas urgently needed building of basic infrastructure of hospitals, schools, universities and roads.

MNA Ali Wazir welcomed support of the parties for the bill and for doing away the 1901 Frontier Crimes Regulation and said the new constitutional arrangement would remove deprivation of the people.

He demanded that elections should be held on seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly within six months.

MNAs Jamaluddin, Sajid Mohmand and Moulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali said the new legislation would prove beneficial for the people of FATA areas.

Minister for States and Frontier Regions Shehryar Afridi said provinces should keep aside their reservations and endorse three percent share for FATA areas in NFC and show solidarity with tribesmen.

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