ISLAMABAD - On the persuasion of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman has conditionally agreed to the government plan of merging Fata into Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Sources in the government claimed that soon after attending the National Security Committee meeting the prime minister, along with Federal Minister for SAFRON Abdul Qadir Baloch and his National Security Advisor Lt-Gen(r) Nsair Khan Janjua, drove to Fazlur Rehman’s residence in the Ministers’ Colony to convince him on Fata reforms.

For the past one week the opposition parties have been boycotting National Assembly proceedings to protest the government decision of dropping the Fata issue from the house agenda.

Sources in the ruling PML-N informed that last week the government had dropped Fata Reforms Bill from the agenda of National Assembly due to the divergent viewpoint of two coalition partners Fazal led faction of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam and Pakhtukhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP).

Both these parties were against the KP-Fata merger. JUI-F leadership wanted a referendum on the issue while the PkMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai wanted to see Fata as a separate province.

On the direction of former premier Nawaz Sharif, PM Abbasi approached Fazl to convince him on the reforms agenda so that the matter could be settled and the reforms bill passed from the Parliament with consensus.

PML-N sources informed that tomorrow [Tuesday] the prime minister would also be meeting with Achakzai to placate him on the issue.

They informed that Abbasi in the meeting with Fazl also conveyed the sentiment of military leadership, which also wanted to see the Fata reforms implemented without any further delay. The army believes the delay would waste the gains made by them against terrorists through long and tedious military operation in the restive tribal areas. Sources in JUI-F informed that the party was not opposed to Fata reforms but they were just averse to its immediate merger with KP, and wanted deferment of the plan beyond 2018 elections.

Sources further said that government wanted immediate abolition of Federal Crimes Regulation and extension of superior judiciary to these areas. Similarly, the government wanted to introduce rapid development to these areas by its merger in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Sources informed that prime minister to a great extent has succeeded in convincing JUI-F chief. He assured Fazl that the will of the people of the area would be given preference while making decision about their fate and future.

Sources said Prime Minister Abbasi also briefed the JUI-F chief on the National Security Committee meeting held earlier in the evening and decisions on containing the menace of terrorism by effective and tight implementation on all the areas of National Action Plan.

JUI-F chief a few days back showed flexibility on his stand on Fata reforms and its merger into KP when at the time of revival of MMA the matter was referred to steering committee comprising the members of the component parties.

Jamaat-i-Islami had already given ultimatum to government till Dec 31 to pass Fata reforms and decide on its merger, warning that the party would stage a protest sit-in federal capital otherwise.