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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) President Asif Ali Zardari has said that the his party will join the FATA members of the National Assembly (MNAs) in their demonstration on October 9 in Islamabad in support of their demand for merger of FATA into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other reforms to bring the tribal areas in the national mainstream.

Zardari assured this to FATA MNAs who called on him at Zardari House Islamabad on Tuesday evening.

The delegation, led by Shahjee Gul Afridi, included Haji Bismillah Khan, Nasir Khan and Bilal Rehman. Those on the PPP side who attended the meeting included MNA Ejaz Jakhrani, Senator Farhatullah Babar, Nayyer Hussain Bukhari, Sardar Ali Khan and Qayum Soomro.

Talking to the delegation, Zardari said that the PPP supported the demand for merger. Keeping in view the administrative, social, cultural, linguistic, political and geographical conditions, merger was the most logical and practical option, he said. “Opposing the merger defied logic,” he said.

Zardari also supported the demand that the jurisdiction of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) be extended to FATA. He said that the cabinet first decided to extend the jurisdiction of the Peshawar High Court to the tribal areas but all of a sudden it was reversed. “If FATA is to be eventually merged into KP, it is common sense that the jurisdiction of the PHC be extended.”

The former president said that when FATA was finally merged into KP, all the cases would then have to be transferred from the IHC to PHC and wondered if the implications had been thought over.

Zardari also called for changes to the present system that allowed political agents to arbitrarily levy cess, taxes and rahdari, and called for replacing it with budgetary allocations to political agents for meeting their administrative expenses subject to audit by the Auditor General of Pakistan.

The FATA MNAs thanked the former president for his support. Later, Zardari hosted a dinner in honour of the delegation.


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