Rift surfaces among tribal lawmakers
By Ibrahim Shinwari
LANDI KOTAL: Four out of the total six independent tribal MNAs have approached the speaker of National Assembly for appointment of their new parliamentary leader.
Confirming the reports, incumbent parliamentary leader of Fata lawmakers Haji Shahji Gul told Dawn that four of his colleagues from Bajaur, Momand, Orakzai and Khyber agencies submitted an application with Speaker Ayaz Sadiq to replace him with Nasir Khan Afridi, an MNA from Bara, Khyber Agency.
He said that he did not know as to what angered his independent colleagues as he had always took them on board regarding any change in the existing administrative setup of Fata and a possible merger of tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
He, however, said that at least three out of the four `rebel` MNAs from Bajaur, Momand and Orakzai were promised party tickets for 2018 general elections by Mulana Fazlur Rehman.
When approached for his comments, Nasir Khan Afridi said that the decision to replace Haji Shahji Gul was taken prior to the tabling of Fata Reforms Bill in the National Assembly but the move was delayed owing to the on-going heated debate on the reforms package.
`We did not want to convey a message that there were any differences over the tabling of the bill among the six independent members of National Assembly from tribal areas.
Now the bill is under discussion in the assembly so we decided to replace our leader in a democratic way with a majority vote,` he said.
Mr Afridi, however, expressed serious reservations over the proposed Rewaj Act and termed it more draconian than the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR). `If we unanimously favour merger with KP, then there is no place for Rewaj Act as it will alienate the people of Fata from the settled districts,` he added.
Mr Afridi claimed to have the support of majority senators from Fata in opposition to Rewaj Act. The three MNAs, who have proposed his name as parliamentary leader, include Haji Bismillah Khan from Bajaur Agency, Bilal Rehman from Mohmand Agency and Dr Ghazi Gulab Jamal from Orakzai Agency.
Mr Afridi said that Sajid Turi, independent MNA from Kurram Agency, also pledged his support but backtracked on his pledge at the time of submission of application to the speaker of National Assembly.
About opposing Rewaj Act by the four tribal MNAs, Haji Shahji Gul said that the decision would be taken unanimously by Senate and National Assembly.