ISLAMABAD -  The federal cabinet would take up the sole agenda of the Fata reforms and its merger with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) today (Thursday).

The issue courted controversy since the presentation of the Fata Reforms Committee report a couple of months ago.

Due to the stark differences among the stakeholders, some of which were strongly opposing Fata merger with KP, the federal cabinet held in the first week of last month had dropped the Fata reforms and its merger plan from the agenda of the meeting, reportedly to appease Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP), both allies of the ruling PML-N.

Sources in the government informed The Nation that keeping in view the mounting pressure on government from the Fata MPs and political forces, the federal cabinet would likely approve the Fata reforms package in the meeting,

However, the merger plan could be readjusted in the light of the recommendations of those forces, which were opposing its merger without taking all the stakeholders into confidence.

The deferment of the Fata reforms from the cabinet meeting’s agenda had triggered strong criticism of the government from the Fata parliamentarians and some KP-based political parties who had threatened government of agitation in case the Fata reforms package and its merger plan was not announced by March 12.

The Fata MPs, who usually sit on treasury benches, came up with strong criticism of government even on the floor of the National Assembly and threatened to quit the government benches in case the ruling PML-N did not mend its ways.

The FATA MNA, Shah Jee Gul Afridi, had given the deadline to the government to come up with some decision on the Fata reforms by March 12 otherwise they would stage a sit-in against the government in the federal capital for acceptance of their demands.

ANP Chief Asfandyar Wali Khan had also announced to lead the sit-in against government in case the decision on the FATA reforms and its merger with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa was not be made by the deadline given by the Fata MPs.

Terming the deferment of the FATA reforms approval, the FATA MPs dubbed it a conspiracy against the people living in those areas.

They said that certain elements did not want to see development in these areas.

Political leaders from KP such as ANP Chief Asfandyar Wali, and Qoumi Watan Party Chief Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao as well as ruling political parties Jamaat-i-Islami and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf all want merger of the Fata with the KP.

Sources in the ruling PML-N said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had no intention to stay the reform process or the merger plan but the matter was deferred on the request of some political forces who wanted an extensive consultation with Fata elders on the reforms and merger plan.

These sources dispelled the impression that the FATA reforms would be delayed by the government due to the pressure from the JUI-F and the PMAP leaders who wanted to see extensive consultation on the issue among the Fata people on the fate and future of these areas.