ISLAMABAD: PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Saturday said he supports FATA Youth Jirga and its movement to merge the tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
The PPP scion added, in a video released, that his party has always struggled for the rights of the people from the tribal areas.
“Pakistan Peoples Party has always struggled for the rights of the people from the tribal areas and I support the movement to merge FATA with KP and stand with the FATA Youth Jirga and always will,” said the PPP chairman.
In the video, Bilawal further says that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto made sincere efforts to merge the tribals areas and Benazir Bhutto made PPP’s special FATA committee.
“She even went to the Supreme court to get the tribal people their rights.”
Earlier in December, the FATA Supreme Council held a meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and presented its stance to maintain a separate identity.
The matter of FATA’s merger with KP was left unresolved after the meeting. However, the tribal areas’ supreme council and the government agreed to continue deliberations on the matter.
The issue of FATA’s merger with KP is one of the pending matters for the incumbent government and has dominated the political discourse of the country in recent weeks.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman has conditionally agreed to support the proposal of FATA’s merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and said that further consultations for the FATA Reforms Bill will continue to be held.
“We will continue to hold discussions with the government over FATA Reforms Bill,” Rehman had said, adding that additional meetings with the military leadership will not be required.
“We presented our stance to them which was to gain the approval of the FATA supreme council,” he said.
More than 500 tribal elders had held a grand jirga on December 14 and rejected the possible merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The elders, hailing from the tribal areas, were of the opinion that FATA should be given the status of a separate province.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa had also recently assured delegations from FATA that the Pakistan Army fully supports mainstreaming of the region in line with aspirations of tribal brothers.
General Bajwa had said he valued the views of the tribal delegations regarding the future of FATA. He added that achievements through sacrifices of brave residents of FATA are being consolidated while the country transitions from relative stability to enduring peace.
The recommendations to bring the tribal areas at par with the rest of the country were approved by the federal cabinet on March 2 but the matter has been delayed since then.
The KP Assembly had adopted a resolution on December 14, 2016 in favour of merging FATA with KP with the aim of rehabilitating and reconstructing the infrastructure including roads, communications, power lines, water supply, education and health facilities.