ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday convened the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to reply on the merger of FATA under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.
Supreme Court justices, led by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, are hearing a petition challenging FATA’s merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“The petitioner argues that the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) can become a separate province rather than merge with the KP,” the court observed. “They said they could not enjoy traditional freedoms because of their minority,” Judge Bandyar said.
Parliament passed the 25th Amendment in May 2018.
“FATA was a part of the federation. The parliament, which has supreme power, has decided its merger,” Justice Bandial remarked.
“Petitioners saying that the status of a federating unit could not be changed,” Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said. “The makers of the constitution kept the federating units separate provinces to keep their culture and status intact,” the court observed.
“FATA is a part of the federation thus the Parliament have mandate to pass an amendment about it,” the court said.
“The Supreme Court has limited power to measure a constitutional amendment,” Justice Bandial observed.
“If the supreme court have mandate to advise the federation to carve out a new province,” Justice Qazi Ameen Ahmed posed question.
The counsel said that under the constition it is essential to hear the opinion of Jirga before a decision about FATA region.
“Punjab province can be divided into two for its better administration then why not merger of the FATA region,” Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said.
Petitioners’ counsel Waseem Sajjad said that the merger of federating units and division in two parts are two different issues. “The people of the region were not asked about FATA’s merger,” the counsel said. “400 people in the Parliament passed 25th Amendment to decide the fate of thousands of the people of the region,” counsel argued.
“These 400 people are representatives of the parliament, which also have people from FATA,” Justice Bandial said.
“Pakistan’s constitution is based on democracy. If the parliament decides about bifurcation of Punjab, will it required an approval from the people,” he questioned.
The constitutional petition was filed by the elders of the former tribal areas through Barrister Wasim Sajjad challenging the merger of their area to KP.
The federal government and the provincial government Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa had raised objections over the petition.