Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan

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Constitution (Twenty-fifth Amendment) Act, 2018
State emblem of Pakistan.svg
Parliament of Pakistan
An Act further to amend the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Date passedIn National Assembly: May 24th, 2018
In Senate: May 25th, 2018
In Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: May 27th, 2018
Date assented toMay 31st, 2018
Legislative history
BillThe Constitution (Twenty-fifth Amendment) Bill, 2018
Bill citation31st Amendment Bill
Introduced byChaudhry Mehmood Bashir (Law Minister)
Status: In force

The Twenty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution of Pakistan, officially known as the Constitution (Twenty-fifth Amendment) Act, 2018 (formerly Constitution (Thirty-first Amendment) Act, 2018), was passed by the Parliament of Pakistan and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in May 2018. Under the amendment, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are to be merged with the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).[1]

Background[edit]

FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province)

Since the independence of Pakistan from the United Kingdom in 1947, the seven districts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas were governed by "Political Agents" (PA) appointed by the President of Pakistan. The PA had near absolute power over their tribal districts.[2]

Efforts to merge FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa date back decades.[3] Former President Pervez Musharraf considered the integration of FATA with the rest of the country by way of a version of the Local Governance Ordinance, 2001 with an extended geographic scope, as well as through the Political Parties Act, 2002.[4]

On December 14th, 2016, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly adopted a resolution in favour of merging FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the goal of infrastructure rehabilitation and reconstruction.[5]

Recommendations to bring FATA on par to the rest of the country were approve by the federal cabinet on March 2nd, 2017, and on December 26th, 2017, the federal cabinet approved the formation of the National Implementation Committee on FATA Reforms, including the Minister of Defence and Commander 11 Corps.[5] At the last meeting of the National Implementation Committee, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa pushed the government towards a decision on the merger.[6]

The Supreme Court and High Court (Extension of Jurisdiction to Federally Administered Tribal Areas) Act, 2018, assented to by President Mamnoon Hussain on April 18th, 2018, extended the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Peshawar High Court to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.[7][8]

Details[edit]

The Constitution (Thirty-first Amendment) Act, 2018, seeks to amend Article 1 of the Constitution, where the country's territory is defined and FATA is mentioned as a territory separate from the other four provinces. It also amends Articles 51 and 59, which concern the allocation of seats in national and provincial assemblies for each of the federating administrative units. Articles 106, 155, and 246 are amended by the act, and 247 is repealed.[9]

The amendment effectively abolishes the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR). A US$865 million package will be allocated to a 10-year plan aimed at the rehabilitation and reconstruction of infrastructure in the tribal areas alongside changes to the constitution.[2]

The amendment will reduce the Senate from 104 to 96 members, and the National Assembly from 342 to 336 members. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly will have 145 seats (115 general, 26 reserved for women, and 4 reserved for minorities); FATA will have 21 seats within the KP Assembly (16 general, 4 reserved for women, and 1 reserved for non-Muslims). The incumbent senators for FATA will be allowed to complete their six-year terms. After they have all retired by 2024, there will be no separate representation of FATA within the Senate.[9]

Legislative procedure[edit]

National Assembly[edit]

The amendment was passed in the National Assembly on May 24th, 2018, with a 229-1 vote in favour. Jamiat Ulema-e Islam (F) (JUI-F) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) lawmakers walked out from the assembly before the vote. Dawar Kundi of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was the sole dissenting voter. During the session, Imran Khan, the chief of PTI, addressed the house, congratulating parliament on uniting despite party differences and bringing up rigging, money laundering, and the Panama Papers. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi spoke afterwards, criticising Khan for bring up unrelated issues in his speech.[9]

Senate[edit]

On May 25th, 2018, the amendment was passed by the Senate with a 71-5 vote in favour. The five voters against were members of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party. A walkout staged by members of the party was held.[10]

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly[edit]

Since Article 239(4) of the Constitution requires constitutional amendments affecting geographic boundaries to be approved by the assembly of the affected province, the bill for the Thirty-first Amendment must be passed by the KP assembly with a two-thirds vote before its term expiry on May 28th, 2018.[9]

On 27 May 2018, Thirty-first Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan was passed with majority in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly. Total of 83 votes was needed for the bill to be approved. The vote was 87 in favour of the amendment for the FATA/K-P merger. [1]

Presidential assent[edit]

On May 28th, 2018, President Mamnoon Hussain signed the FATA Interim Governance Regulation, 2018, abolishing the Frontier Crimes Regulation and outlining how FATA will be governed within a two-year time frame as the region is merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The FATA Interim Governance Regulation has been signed under Article 247 of the Constitution of Pakistan, which stands to be repealed by the Thirty-first Amendment to the Constitution.[11] Sources privy to a series of meetings since the passage of the bill in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly have stated that the repeal of Article 247 of the Constitution wasn't included in the proposed amendment until the last minute, and that the FATA Interim Governance Regulation will have "little legal standing" after changes are made to the constitution. The abolition of Article 247 could also introduce difficulty upholding the Action in Aid of Civil Power, the Nizam-e-Adal Regulation, the policing authority of federal and provincial levies, and tax amnesty provided to FATA.[12]

On May 29th, 2018, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani signed and forwarded the constitutional bill to President Mamnoon Hussain. Having been received by the Senate from the Ministry of Law and Justice after its passage in the Khyber Pakhuntkhwa Assembly, the bill was sent for the President's signature.[13] Presidential assent was given on May 31st.[14]

Criticism[edit]

The government of Afghanistan criticised the merger, stating that the merger would be a contravention of the Treaty of Rawalpindi between Afghanistan and British India.[15] Pakistan responded to the government of Afghanistan's position by rejecting the accusation that the merger was a "one-sided" decision.[16]

Dr. Farooq Sattar of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) stated that his party supports the bill for "political unity," but his party would still prefer that FATA be made a separate province rather than be merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He called for the formation of 19 provinces, referencing bills MQM had previously put forth proposing the creation of South Punjab, Hazara, and FATA provinces. Sattar demanded a referendum on whether FATA should be made a new province instead of being merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.[9]

Jamiat Ulema-e Islam (F) activists protested against the merger at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, attempting to stop lawmakers from entering the building.[17]

Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party leader Abdul Qahar Khan Wadan defended his party's position against the merger and stated that the people of FATA want their own province, chief minister, governor, and public service commission.[9]

Leaders of the FATA Grand Alliance (FGA) called the merger "forced and unjustifiable".[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Khan, Javed Aziz; Mahmood, Nisar (2018-05-28). "Fata-KP merger finalised". The News International. Pakistan. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  2. ^ a b Hashim, Asad (2018-05-24). "Pakistan parliament passes landmark tribal areas reform". Al Jazeera. Doha, Qatar: Al Jazeera Media Network. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  3. ^ Jamal, Umair (2018-05-30). "Understanding the Realpolitik Behind Pakistan's FATA-KP Provincial Merger". The Diplomat. Tokyo, Japan. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
  4. ^ Fair, C. Christine (2014). Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army's Way of War. Oxford University Press. p. 132. ISBN 9780199892709.
  5. ^ a b Chaudhry, Arshad Waheed (2018-05-15). "Govt to get 30th Amendment approved before NA term ends: sources". Geo TV. Pakistan. Retrieved 2018-05-29.
  6. ^ "Activists, tribal leaders hail army's role in FATA merger". The Express Tribune. Pakistan. 2018-05-30. Retrieved 2018-05-30.
  7. ^ Guramani, Nadir (2018-01-12). "Bill extending PHC, SC jurisdiction to Fata passed by National Assembly". Dawn. Pakistan Herald Publications. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  8. ^ Shah, Waseem Ahmad (2018-04-23). "VIEW FROM THE COURTROOM: Extension of courts' jurisdiction to Fata still depends on govt". Dawn. Pakistan Herald Publications. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Wasim, Amir (2018-05-24). "National Assembly green-lights Fata-KP merger by passing 'historic' bill". Dawn. Pakistan Herald Publications. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  10. ^ Hussain, Danish; Ghauri, Irfan (2018-05-25). "Senate passes FATA-KP merger bill with 71-5 vote". The Express Tribune. Pakistan. Retrieved 2018-05-30.
  11. ^ Sirmed, Marvi (2018-05-29). "For FATA residents, the good news may be short-lived". Daily Times. Pakistan. Retrieved 2018-05-29.
  12. ^ Firdous, Iftikhar (2018-05-30). "FATA merger: K-P drags its feet on getting president's nod". The Express Tribune. Pakistan. Retrieved 2018-05-30.
  13. ^ "Bill on Fata merger sent to president". Dawn. Pakistan Herald Publications. 2018-05-30. Retrieved 2018-05-30.
  14. ^ "President signs amendment bill, merging FATA with KP". Geo TV. Pakistan. 2018-05-31. Retrieved 2018-06-02.
  15. ^ Ansar, Massoud (2018-05-27). "Afghanistan Criticizes Pakistan's Unilateral Decision Over FATA". TOLOnews. Kabul, Afghanistan: Moby Media Group. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  16. ^ "Pakistan rejects Afghan concerns on FATA-KP merger". Arab News. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 2018-05-27. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  17. ^ Khattak, Sohail (2018-05-28). "Police break up JUI-F assembly siege". The Express Tribune. Pakistan. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  18. ^ "Halt to Fata-KP merger threatened". Dawn. Pakistan Herald Publications. 2018-05-27. Retrieved 2018-05-28.