The Pakistan Government on 2 March 2017 approved the merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. The step was taken to bring the impoverished and politically deprived tribal region at par with the rest of the country. Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan, presided a meeting of the federal cabinet, which approved in principle the recommendations of the FATA Reforms Committee.
The Committee includes the merger of the tribal areas with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and repeal of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR). The recommendation to merge Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with the FATA was made by the six-member committee headed by Sartaj Aziz, PM’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs. The Government, in addition, also approved a 10-year reform package to bring the tribal region on a par with other developing areas of the country.
The development package, worth more than Pakistani Rupees 110 billion, has been approved for the seven agencies of the tribal region. Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the Peshawar High Court will be extended to FATA. Introduction of Local Government system, education and jobs opportunities for youth and up-gradation of Levis Force are part of the 24-point FATA reforms. However, LG polls will be held after 2018 general elections.
The Federally Administered Tribal Areas is a semi-autonomous tribal region in northwestern Pakistan. The region borders Pakistan’s provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan to the east and south, and Afghanistan’s provinces of Kunar, Nangarhar, Paktia, Khost and Paktika to the west and north. The FATA consists of seven tribal agencies and six frontier regions. They are directly governed by Pakistan’s federal government through a special set of laws called the FCR. The territory is almost exclusively inhabited by the Pashtuns.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is one of the four provinces of Pakistan. It is located in the northwestern region of the nation. The province was formerly known as North-West Frontier Province. Its provincial capital and largest city is Peshawar. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa shares borders with the FATA to the west; Gilgit–Baltistan to the northeast; Azad Kashmir, Islamabad and Punjab to the east and southeast. The province also shares an international border with Afghanistan, connected through the Khyber Pass. It is the third largest province of Pakistan by the size of both population and economy. However, the province is geographically the smallest of four provinces.