ISLAMABAD: Though the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) into the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has been welcomed as it will bring the area into mainstream and ensure the locals all constitutional rights, people of Malakand Division seem to be the loser in case the status of the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) is also changed as envisaged under the bill.
The government has announced special packages to merge FATA into KP in phases but there is no such announcement as far as the merger of PATA that include the seven districts of Malakand, including Chitral, into the province is concerned.
The people of Malakand Division have resented the abolition of the status of their region under the 31st constitutional amendment bill 2018 by parliament and threatened agitation and even boycott of the upcoming general elections.
The are of the view that the abolition of the status of PATA entailed heavy taxation, including the automatic promulgation of Customs and Income Tax Act, and that it would cause an unbearable burden on the local economy badly affected by floods and terrorism in the recent years.
Lawyers in Chitral on Saturday also said people of Malakand had already forced the federal government to withdraw the extension of the Customs Act to the region through massive protests few years ago. They demanded that the government should retain parts of the articles 246 and 247 of the Constitution on Pata to the relief of the people of Malakand.
Former MNA Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali also expressed his resentment over the matter and announced to launch a protest movement.
MPA from Upper Chitral Sardar Hussain also opposed the abolition of the status of PATA during the session of the KP assembly on Sunday. He said the merger of FATA into KP was a timely decision but if the government wanted to abolish the status of PATA, it should announce a special package for the people of Malakand Division.
He said since the abolition of the state of Chitral, the area had been treated as a tax free zone. Now without giving any special package the special status of the area was being changed which would be resisted.