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Pakistani President Signs Law Merging Tribal Areas With Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain has signed legislation that merges the country's tribal regions with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and therefore grants some 5 million people in the regions the same rights as other Pakistanis.

Hussain signed the law in Islamabad on May 31.

The bill had previously been passed by the lower and upper houses of parliament as well as the assembly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the necessary two-thirds majority.

The legislation rids the northwestern tribal areas of what were seen as discriminatory laws under which those regions have been governed since the colonial rule of Britain.

Pakistan was granted independence from London in 1947.

The Federaly Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) include seven territorial agencies: Bajaur, Dir, Khyber, Mohmand, Peiwar Kotal in the Kurram Agency, and the Bolan Pass and Gomal in South Waziristan. They are mainly rugged, mountainous areas along the border with Afghanistan.

Pakistan's government, led by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, formally steps down on May 31, the end of its five-year term.

Parliamentary elections will be held on July 25 and a new government formed afterwards.

Based on reporting by AP and