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Bilawal supports Youth Jirga's efforts for FATA-KP merger.

Fazl says tribal people should not be pressurised for merger of FATA with KPPakistan People's Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said Saturday that he supports the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Youth Jirga in their efforts for the merger of the tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).The PPP chairman, in a video message, said that his party had never isolated the population of the tribal areas and had always continued their struggle for their rights.

"I support the movement started by the youth of FATA for the merger of the tribal areas with KP as the PPP has always fought to safeguard the rights of the tribal people," he said.During the video message, Bilawal further said that his late grandfather Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had made considerable efforts to integrate the tribal population into the mainstream and Benazir Bhutto was the one who formed a special committee on FATA.

"She even knocked on the door of the Supreme Court to get the tribal people their rights," he added.Earlier in December, the FATA Supreme Council held a meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and informed him that the local population was content with maintaining a separate identity.

Nevertheless, the matter of FATA's merger with KP remains unresolved even after the meeting.The issue of FATA's merger with KP was amongst some of the most important matters pending matters with the current government and had gained a lot of attention in the recent weeks.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Fazlur Rehman had conditionally agreed to support the proposal of FATA's merger with KP and said that further consultations for the FATA Reforms Bill would 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 would not be held in this connection.

More than 500 tribal elders had held a grand jirga on December 14 and rejected the possible merger of FATA. The tribal elders 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 supported mainstreaming of the region in line with aspirations of the tribal people.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 were being consolidated while the country went through a transition 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 had been delayed ever since.

The KP Assembly had adopted a resolution on December 14, 2016, in favour of the merger with the aim of rehabilitating and reconstructing the infrastructure, including roads, communications, power lines, water supply, education and health facilities.On the other hand, Fazlur Rehman said that the tribal people should not be pressurised for the merger of FATA with KP.

The tribes have their own identity and only tribal leaders should make a decision about their lands," he said while addressing the FATA Supreme Council's protest in the federal capital.They [tribal citizens] should not be pressured over the KP-FATA merger," he said.

We stand in solidarity with the citizens of FATA, and we will continue to struggle for their rights," he added.
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Publication:Pakistan Today (Lahore, Pakistan)
Date:Dec 30, 2017
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