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Featured FATA Remains an Open Field

Discussion in 'Pakistan's Internal Security' started by Horus, Feb 19, 2017.

  1. Horus

    Horus ADMINISTRATOR

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    FATA Remains an Open Field

    By Tariq Rizwan
    02/19/2017

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    The history of FATA is replete with sacrifices and unquestionable loyalty with the state of Pakistan since its inception. Despite its proximity to Afghan border and at the time when Afghanistan was in better shape, FATA people joined for Pakistan on the very first call of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Their role in the liberation war of Jammu & Kashmir in 1947-8, their active sacrifices in Afghan Jihad against the Soviets, protection of our western border without any lust for power and money, hosting millions of Afghan Refugees for decades, their struggle against the militants despite their hardships during the prolonged war on terror and their red carpeted welcome to Pakistan Army in the wake of 9/11 speak high of their loyalty and faith in Pakistan. For almost a decade, FATA people bore the brunt of the war on terror but there is not a single incident of raising anti-state slogan. Despite the fact of being fierce fighters as evident from their war with the Britishers and Soviets in the past, Pashtuns specially the traditional tribesmen’ love for Islam and Jihad is matchless. Indeed, they surrendered wholeheartedly to Pakistan’s changed policy after 9/11 in the longer interest of the country.

    It is irony that the area is still called as tribal area in this 21st century. People of FATA are being ruled through the centuries old Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) imposed by the then colonial power “Britishers” to punish the tribal people for their crime of not accepting the British rule and subjugation. Except the few steps taken by the PPP government like introducing adult franchise and extending political parties act, the consecutive governments have failed miserably to mainstream FATA during the last seventy years history of Pakistan. People in Tribal Area have no basic facilities of life and no political rights. There is not a single university and standard hospital in the area. They are being treated as secondary citizens; harassed and insulted in the name of security while entering the settled areas. Over a period of time, FATA has been transformed into an Army garrison where one can find dozens of Army check posts on a single road, DI Khan - Wana road is a glaring example.

    In the absence of strong government writ, FATA remained a nursery of religious extremism for long, producing militants in the name of Islam. After their escape from Afghanistan in the wake of US bombing, various militant groups took refuge and established training centers in FATA, attracting militant trainees and finances from across the globe. Terrorism in the name of Taliban continued emanating from the area over the last one decade. It is still going on as witnessed by the 13 February suicide blast in Lahore and will never stop until proper system is introduced in FATA. In the latest blast, we have lost 13 precious lives including DIG Traffic Capt (R) Ahmad Mubeen and SSP Operation Zahid Gondal while 87 more got injured. Thousands of elders and ordinary citizens were killed in the Tribal Belt during the decade long war on terror.

    A one day seminar “Governance Reforms in FATA - A People’s Perspective” was arranged by FATA Research Centre (FRC) Islamabad on 1st Feb, 2017 at Marriott Hotel Islamabad. The Chief Guest of the seminar Miss Anisa Zeb Tahir Kheli said that the tribal people have lost hundreds of thousands of near and dear ones, their property was damaged, their business disappeared and people were made homeles but government has remained unmoved. The sitting government has not been able to stabilize upon the gains of military operation “Zarb-e-Azab” and failed to reestablish the writ of the government in most of the areas where militsnts are still hiding and running the show. They have replaced the old system of governance “FCR” with their Shuras. She also disclosed that mainstreaming FATA is not a difficult decision for the government but delaying tactics are being used due to unknown reasons. Article 20 of the Constitution of Pakistan empowers the President of Pakistan to convert any area into settled area with just a stroke of pen.

    The speakers and the audience showed their dissatisfaction with the present political, judicial and security system of Khasadar and Levies, 34 % were totally and 21 % were partially dissatisfied, whereas 16 % were fully and 25 % were partially satisfied with the present system. On the question of replacing them with police system, 37 % fully and 29 % partially agreed whereas 16 % totally and 11 % partially disagreed. They all were of the view that proper law of the landed be extended to FATA. If FCR is a good system then it may be introduced in the whole country and if not then why it has been imposed on the people of Tribal Area. They demanded that FCR should immediately be replaced and FATA people may be given all the political, legal and administrative powers and the area may be brought at par with rest of the country.

    As a student of Political Science, it looks very awkward and unfortunate that both Maulana Fazlurehman and Mehmood Khan Achakzai are Pashtuns allies who never raised any objection to PML-N agenda but blocked the FATA Reforms Committee report on baseless and impracticable demands. It is cannot be their own agenda. It is viewed that they have been launched either by the Prime Minister or by the vested interests to delay the process of mainstreaming FATA. No doubt, PML N government has proved to be anti-Pashtun and ignored the collective voice of the people of FATA. Through fallacious arguments, they have misled the people and created useless controversies. By demanding a separate province, how they can preserve tribal traditions and jirgas? They are asking for a referendum to determine the fate of FATA. However, these demands are unfeasible, illogical and unconstitutional? It is a Pandora box which the government would never like to open.

    The existing consensus on merger with FATA is unprecedented. The Fata Reforms Committee headed by Sartaj Aziz have visited almost all the Agencies and procured the people view point. Almost all the segments of society are on a single page. The Jirgas representing all the political parties, tribal elders and religious groups were consulted. The committee claims that the report, finalized after consulting all the relevant stakeholders, proposes merger of FATA with KP through a roadmap that is to be completed within five years. In the interim period, 3% of funds from the divisible pool have been proposed by the Committee to be utilized for the development of FATA. Accepting the proposals, the people of FATA, their representatives and all major political parties like the PML-N, PTI, PPP, ANP and JI are asking for the immediate merger of FATA with KP.

    It is a very important issue which may become complicated with the passage of time. Any untoward incident in the upcoming sit-in may enrage the tribesmen. Government has to come out of its own cheap strategy; getting political mileage while taking it closer to the next general elections in 2018 and insistence only on 1% share from the divisible pool against the 3% share, proposed by the FATA Reforms Committee. There is a need to resolve the issue at priority and implement the National Action Plan (NAP) in letter and spirit which speaks for the early mainstreaming of FATA and. Else, FATA will remain like an open field and the hostile forces may exploit it to their advantage with the aim to keep the western belt burning. The issues of Pashtunistan and Durand Line may resurface which might have lasting impact on Pakistan’s national security.

    The writer is based at Islamabad and holds Master degree in Political science and War studies. He is considered an authority on defense matters, political studies, constitution, philosophy and foreign relations. He writes frequently on Pakistan's security issues, Afghanistan, Kashmir, India, Bangladesh, foreign relations and internal issues.

     
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  2. Imad.Khan

    Imad.Khan SENIOR MEMBER

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    The author forgot to mention that the people of FATA even repulsed the attack by Afghanistan in 1960
     
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  3. Mudassar Jalil

    Mudassar Jalil FULL MEMBER

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    People of Pakistan wanted that Fata should be merged with KPK or it should be new province of Pakistan, but after that decision people of FATA has to follow the rules and regulation of Pakistan, the tribal system cannot run parallel with constitution of Pakistan, you cannot enjoy NCP cars, you have to pay taxes, you cannot support any tribe which is against pakistan, you have to issue yourself weapon licenses, obey the decisions of courts instead of jirga etc etc. These complications are not piece of cake or soo easy to solve.
    if FATA is merge with KPK or be a new province there will also be too many advantages like business, government bodies, govt jobs for young people of FATA, prosperity in area like roads, colleges, universities, judical system.
    Well there will be new era in FATA after it. But like our too many tribes which are supporting TTP will always be an issue in this matter because they could not get benefits in democratic system.
     
  4. SBD-3

    SBD-3 ELITE MEMBER

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    How can you be so sure of that? KPK's large diaspora in other parts of the country is primarily because of lack of opportunities in the province. KPK administration's interest in acquiring FATA owes a lot to the fact that if FATA merges in KPK, it would enhance the part of KPK in federal pool of funds which is now earmarked for FATA separately. But would KPK administration ensure a judicious allocation, too early to say at this point.
     
  5. BHarwana

    BHarwana SENIOR MEMBER

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    If you impose all that at a sudden you will disturb the entire province economic system. It would be better to make it a separate province educate the general public and slowly introduce the laws and then merge it in KPK.
     
  6. Mudassar Jalil

    Mudassar Jalil FULL MEMBER

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    Even I am favor of making 3 new provinces Gilgit baltistan, FATA and south Punjab.
     
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