ISLAMABAD - A huddle of parliamentary leaders with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in the chair could not break the impasse on FATA reforms , as both Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party refused to show flexibility on their stance on merger of tribal areas into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Sources aware of deliberations at the meeting informed The Nation that JUI-F and PkMAP opposed mainstreaming the FATA before the upcoming general elections and granting seats to these areas in the provincial legislature.

As Maulana Fazlur Rehman could not attend the meeting, his younger brother Senator Attaur Rehman represented him at the meeting. PkMAP chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai again demanded status of a separate province for FATA and opposed its merger into KP.

They were also opposed to giving FATA representation in provincial legislature, terming it a step towards its merger into the province. Both JUI-F and PkMAP leaders reiterated their demand for a referendum in FATA as per people’s aspirations.

The meeting was held at Prime Minister’s chamber in the National Assembly. Despite persuasion by Abbasi, political stakeholders refused to show any flexibility and did not budge on their stance on reforms in FATA and its mainstreaming plan.

As the meeting failed to develop a consensus on FATA reforms , it was decided that another session of parliamentary leaders would be arranged on Thursday.

Prominent among those who attended the meeting were Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Syed Khurshid Shah, Akram Khan Durrani, Ghalib Khan, Maulana Attaur Rehman, Sartaj Aziz, Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, Syed Naveed Qamar, Dr Farooq Sattar, Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, Tariq Bashir Cheema, Nasir Khan, Sahibzada Tariq Ullah and Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi.

The political parties in favour of FATA merger are Qaumi Watan Party, Awami National Party, FATA Parliamentarians, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Jamaat-e-Islami and some other independent FATA groups.

Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party opposed the merger and wanted a separate status for FATA. As both these parties were coalition partners of the government in the Centre, they successfully blocked the move to merge FATA into KP.

Sources in the ruling PML-N said the government was in favour of FATA merger but it had postponed the plan until next elections due to pressure from the coalition partners.

Now the proposal on the table on FATA mainstreaming envisages local bodies elections in these areas in October this year and elections for provincial assembly seats in April next year.

Under the plan, there would be 24 provincial assembly constituencies in FATA for which delimitation process would be initiated in due course. Right now, there are some 12 National Assembly seats for FATA and as per the plan under each NA seat there would be two provincial assembly seats.