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May 14, 2019

26th Constitutional Amendment: More seats for ex-Fata

Top Story

May 14, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly unanimously approved the 26th Amendment to the Constitution on Monday, allowing an increase in the number of National Assembly and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly’s seats for the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). Moved by Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) MNA Mohsin Dawar, the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 would allow an increase from six to 12 in the National Assembly general seats and from 16 to 24 in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly general seats.

The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2019 received 288 votes making over two-thirds of the total seats of the House with no vote against. The 26th Amendment to the Constitution further amended the 25th Amendment, which provided for 16 KP Assembly seats for tribal areas and reduction of National Assembly seats from 12 to six.

With the introduction of Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeking the 26th Amendment to the Constitution, Mohsin Dawar had proposed an increase from six to 12 in the National Assembly seats and from 16 to 24 in provincial assembly seats.

However, the Standing Committee on Law and Justice assented to an increase of nine in the National Assembly seats and of 21 in the KP Assembly seats. Mohsin Dawar, the mover of the bill, and Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri moved separate but identical amendments.

The House approved the amendments by more than two-thirds of majority, increasing the National Assembly seats to 12 and of provincial assembly to 24. The two parliamentarians also moved two more identical amendments, which envisaged giving another six months for holding elections on the provincial assembly seats in the former Fata.

Speaking in the House prior to the passage of the 26th Amendment to the Constitution, Prime Minister Imran Khan said there was a need to end the sense of deprivation in some provinces adding that no part of the country should feel that they were not owned by Pakistan and that they had no stakes in the country.

“This sense of deprivation is very dangerous, which can be exploited by the enemy,” he said, adding that the enemy was exploiting the sense ofdeprivation among the people of some areas.

“The nation wants them to be mainstreamed and have a voice. I am happy that there is a consensus among all parties to increase their seats to mainstream them.” “I want to tell the provinces that the decision to allocate three per cent from the NFC award is necessary because of the destruction in Fata due to the war on terror. KP can never fulfil this from its budget.”

“Development of FATA will only take place when the provinces chip in the three per cent,” he said. Giving the modern day example of East and West Germany, the prime minister said, “West Germany sacrificed and helped East Germany come up and the entire country prospered.”

Imran kept sitting in the House till passage of the amendment and also congratulated the nation on increase in the seats of National Assembly and KP Assembly with consensus in the House.

The prime minister observed that Pakistan faced a big tragedy in the form of separation of East Pakistan because people there were facing a sense of deprivation and they had a feeling that they were not getting due representation and were not being included in the development process. “We need to learn a lesson from the past and the people of any province should not have the feeling that they are being ignored and that they are not part of this country,” he added.

He pointed out that passage of the 26th Amendment to the Constitution would give a message to people of former Fata that the whole nation acknowledged their sacrifices and wanted to take them forward in the development process.

Imran said he was happy to note that the National Assembly was passing the 26th Amendment to the Constitution which would give a message to people of former Fata that the whole nation was standing with them. “I know that some provinces have reservations about the current economic situation of the country, but I assure you that this situation would soon be over,” he said.

Speaking in the National Assembly prior to passage of the amendment, former prime minister and PML-N MNA Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said his party had always supported giving due rights to the people of tribal areas, who had suffered a lot during the war on terror and the Afghan war.

However, he said the government on Monday bypassed all the rules for introduction of a private members bill from its members for creation of Janubi Punjab as a new province. He also credited Muhammad Nawaz Sharif with giving rights to the people of tribal areas. “For merger of Fata with the KP province Nawaz Sharif said he was ready to even sacrifice his chair,” Abbasi said.

He asked the government to ensure fair and uncontroversial elections on the KP Assembly seats for Fata saying increase in the National Assembly and provincial assembly seats would have far-reaching effects on the country’s politics.

Abbasi said if consensus could be reached on the 26th Amendment then why the same gesture could not be shown on other national issues as well. Raja Pervaiz Ashraf of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said his party’s leadership had always supported the Fata reforms.

The PPP leader observed that the people of tribal areas had given numerous sacrifices for the country and now all the provinces would take part in healing their wounds and development of the war-torn area.

Agha Hassan Baloch of Balochistan National Party (Mengal) while supporting the 26th Amendment demanded an increase in the number of National Assembly and provincial assembly seats for Balochistan.

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