Pakistan President signs bill to mainstream tribal areas

Islamabad: Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain on Thursday signed a constitutional bill to merge the country’s northwest tribal areas with the northwest Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, the media reported.

The President signed the 25th constitutional amendment bill at a ceremony, following which the seven districts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have now officially become part of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The seven areas of the FATA, a tribal region bordering Afghanistan, will now be called districts. The FATA had seven territorial agencies, including Bajaur, Khyber, Orakzai, Mohmand, Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan.

Earlier this month, the National Assembly and the Senate, the lower and upper houses of the parliament, and Khyber-Pakhtumkhwa Assembly passed the bill with the required two-thirds majority and sent the bill to the president for final approval.

On the occasion, the president congratulated the people of the tribal region on becoming part of the province. He hoped that the merger would lead to stability in the region and welfare of the people.

The merger will bring the formerly lawless tribal areas under the jurisdiction of the country’s laws and will give over five million people of the region the same rights as other Pakistanis have.

People of the region will be given representation in the provincial assembly of KP and they will continue to have their representation in the lower and upper houses of the parliament. Under the amendment, total 21 additional provincial assembly seats will be provided to the area.

The Frontier Crimes Regulation that was devised by the British colonial government to control the area has also been finished.

Important taxes, including customs duty and income tax, were not applicable in the tribal areas in the past, but now all taxes will become applicable in the regions. However, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had promised that the regions will be given a tax holiday for five years.