ISLAMABAD: The Lower House of parliament on Friday passed a long-standing legislation extending jurisdiction of the Supreme Court (SC) and the Peshawar High Court (PHC) to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).The bill was tabled in the National Assembly by newly appointed Minster for Law and Justice Mehmood Bashir Virk, which was smoothly passed by the house as none other than Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) opposed the legislation.The JUI-F proposed amendments to the bill through its lawmaker Naeema Kishwar, which were rejected by the house. The JUI-F lawmaker later staged a two-minute token walkout against consideration of the bill as a supplementary agenda.National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Minister for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Abdul Qadir Baloch congratulated the house for passing the bill and termed it a historic move to bring FATA into mainstream.The SAFRON minister was of the view that a long-standing demand of the people of FATA had been met and hoped that other issues causing delay in the KP-FATA merger would also be resolved soon.Opposition Leader in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah lauded the house for passing the legislation by calling it another success, while recalling the successful passage of the election reforms bill a few months ago.He said the people of FATA had rendered great sacrifices and that they should be brought into mainstream. He demanded that the government should present KP-FATA merger bill in the next session.The lawmakers from FATA also congratulated each other and thanked the entire house for voting in favour of the bill. A controversy persisted during the entire last session of the National Assembly after opposition announced boycott of the proceedings over government pulling out the said bill from the agenda on the eleventh hour. The opposition’s protest had also forced the government to prorogue the session as a number of sittings were adjourned due to the lack of quorum.Earlier, the National Assembly held discussion on situation arising out of the rape and murder of seven-year-old Zainab in Kasur.Opening the debate, Opposition Leader Khurshid Shah said that the horrendous incident had aggrieved the entire country. He regretted that the police had so far failed to nab the culprit. He said besides arresting the culprit, the government needed to take steps to avoid recurrence of such chilling incidents in future. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mohsin Shah Nawaz Ranjah urged the political parties not to do politics on the matter and rather sit together to chalk out a strategy to avert cases of child abuse in the country.Published in Daily Times, January 13th 2018.