FATA Research & Development Centre
The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are generally perceived to have an uncanny tendency for courting strife. Conjuring up romantic images of tribesmen living on the edge, FATA has never failed to find mention in the words of writers and travellers in awe of its freedom-loving people. Historically, the tribal areas have been and continue to be both, an enigma and a dilemma. Throughout it remained a strategic and tactical conundrum till the final moments of British’s departure from the sub-continent. Geographically FATA is a vast stretch of rugged mountains starting from Bajaur Agency in the northwest and terminating in South Waziristan Agency in the south. Of the size of Belgium, it is approximately 27,220 sq kms, with a porous border of 450 kms with Afghanistan. Besides being one of the most important areas of the country mainly owing to its strategic location; it is also one of “the most sensitive areas in Pakistan and indeed in South Asia.” On departure of Soviet forces from Afghanistan, FATA lost its importance temporarily only to re-emerge on global scene after 9/11. FATA, today, has come into international focus with the worldwide phenomenon of terrorism being the principal concern of the most powerful nation on earth, the United State of America, which sees this area as the main heaven for international terrorists.
The strife that keeps FATA simmering has various dimensions but its roots lie in the government’s hands-off policy towards the tribal areas. FATA is not an ungovernable territory but the state has elected to govern it through local proxies and draconian colonial-era administrative structures and laws, depriving locals of constitutionally guaranteed civil and political rights and protection of the courts. Traditionally, the interst of decision makers has been limited to maintaining the status quo in the volatile tribal agencies. Failure to come up with a clear vision for integrated development in FATA, as a sustainable solution to all that troubles region, has kept the people marginalised and improvished. In this oppertunity-vacuum, tribesmen have been left to their own devices, vulnerable to exploitation at the hands of criminal and extremist elements from within and outside. Short-sighted and piecemeal development plans, benefiting select tribal elites rather than the common man, have failed to integrate FATA into the national mainstream. There exists a gaping development lag in the tribal agencies that keeps these areas in a perpetual state of poverty, conflict and isolation. Deceision makers can, however, no longer afford to remain indifferent to the development of the area. An integrated and sustainable development startegy is badly needed to put FATA on the path to peace and prosperity along with the rest of the country. The tribes especially the youth and educated classes are no longer prepared to accept their said plight as a fait accompli and be treated as red Indians. There is strong desire in the enlightened elements of FATA to reform the system.
FATA Research & Development Centre
FATA has been described as a mysterious borderland for historians, writers, travellers and journalists. Much written about it is based on misconceptions. When bad things happen, the Frontier fascinates the world. When wars are won, for example the Soviets vanquished, then attention falls elsewhere. The goal here is to remove the mystery and avoid misunderstandings. Part of our theme is that the Pakhtun are not a quaint and isolated people; they have been and are related to the historical currents of the region and the world and, importantly, they are both a rural and an urban people with Peshawar, Quetta, and Karachi being their major cities. We will make the argument that it is the Pakhtun who have been the buffer between empires and not Afghanistan.
The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), are semi-autonomous and have never been fully integrated into Pakistan’s administrative and economic system. They are governed under a system inherited from British colonialists, with government-appointed political agents ruling through the tribes that observe their centuries-old codes, not Pakistani laws. The restive border region largely neglected since Pakistan was created in 1947.
It is only now, after sixty years, that Pakistan has tried to understand the Tribal Areas. Before, nobody in Islamabad knew about the region.They have heard many empty promises of roads, jobs, schools and hospitals before. But pacifying the region will take time and lots of investment to erase the conditions that fuel militancy, such as poverty and unemployment.
FATA Research & Development Center is in the business of training and developing local experts so that eventually Pakhtun can solve their own problems.After of decades of war, FATA Center is fully aware that many talented Pakhtuns do not have educational backgrounds or career histories commensurate with their natural talent and abilities.
We at FATA Center believe that the best way the international community can help us now is to help us develop our domestic capability. By employing Pakhtun researchers and consultants to formulate policies and develop strategies, you can help Pakhtun improve the skills they will need to have when the international community goes home.
The Center welcomes researchers and staff in all of our research areas. If you are interested in working for FATA Center, please submit a letter explaining why and what you would like to do along with a brief summary of your background and requirements.
Ten years after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, peace and security continue to elude FATA.
The Tribal history have convinced us that domestic conflict management is critical.
Only by coming together Tribesmen can create economic opportunities and infrastructure and build the kind of state everyone dreams of having.
Tribal experts have not been sufficiently utilized. Their commitment to defeating crisis has been underappreciated.
Pashtuns understand why terrorism is an unacceptable political strategy. They have seen first hand the devastation it causes. It will require great effort to get rid of this scourge.
FATA Center designs innovative security solutions to maximize the use of local talent.
1. Democratic Institution Building
FATA is a country where most people live in remote areas. To date, no central government has been able to deliver these remote Tribesmen the benefits of modern statehood.
Tribesmen need to recognize that creating genuinely democratic institutions is not a betrayal of their faith but is the most efficient path to the fair and just society that Muslims are commanded to create.
Democracy – the process of choosing the most capable leader and then holding him accountable -is the system of government that can free Pakhtun from corruption, tyranny, and oppression.
• Find ways to build institutions that enhance our culture, tradition, and values.
• Create programs to encourage grassroots support.
• Try and find ways to protect the rights of all citizens of FATA & KPK.
2. Economic Development
FATA Center for Research & Development provides consultancy and research services to businesses investing in FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).This is another way the Center helps to build domestic capacity in FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).
The international community has been helpful and generous in helping Tribesmen emerge from decades of Extrimism and oppression. But Tribesmen have to fend for themselves in this domain too.
Tribesmen need to be developing the economic opportunities on which their future and that of their children and grandchildren depend.
Being a frontline province in Pakistan’s war against terrorism in line with its commitments with the International Community, industries and businesses of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had suffered huge losses.
When the economy prospers, mindsets change. When there is opportunity for business and commercial activities, people focus on that and less on violence.
• Identify investment opportunities.
• Create economic indexes to enable informed investment.
• Provide business planning and consulting services.
• Match investors with companies.
3. Social Cohesion , Democracy and Governance Research Program
Social cohesion, democracy and governance are significant features of overall programs of FRDC. Ensuring political participation for both women and men is part of FRDC’s future plans. For FRDC good governance means all the actors (government, civil society and Politicians) to demonstrate accountability, transparency, performance management and predictability in focused poverty reduction programs as guided by Millennium Development Goals that are delivered effectively and efficiently.
Community participation in decision making is done through creating community pressure groups and their affectivity is ensured through the community based organizations network.
Mass meetings, seminars and dialogues are key expertise of FRDC. Conflict resolution through dialogue has been effective tool used in the most conflict areas of NWFP and FATA. People of the community trust FRDC for its credibility and rapport it has in the areas it work, so it is easier for the organization to reach in all the spheres of the community.
Social cohesion is another important element that is covered by FRDC. Minorities, women groups, disabled people are given equal opportunity in all the programs of FRDC.
Other Important Issues/ Areas of Research
Remoteness and neglect of the tribal areas
• Unfortunately, the exclusivity, remoteness and neglect of the tribal areas have taken their heavy toll. “To deny people civil and political rights by saying that this is a “tribal way” of life is convenient, but it does not pay in the long run, says a political analyst. It is important that the region should be renamed from appellations of “Ilaqa Ghair,” “tribal belt,” “unsettled areas” or even FATA. The litmus test of Pakistan state’s sovereignty lies in bringing them into the ambit of its legal jurisdiction and law as soon as possible41 or risk negative repercussions.
The tribal people are as civilized people
• The tribal people are as civilized people as others but for the last 130 years they have been facing the cruelty of FCRs. These rules have ceased their human and basic rights. It is very astonishing that our government has a strong objection on POTO rules imposed by the Indian Government in Occupied Kashmir but the Government has no objection on FCRs that are already imposed in FATA since long time, which is many fold harsher than POTO.35 Through POTO the Indian Government has a right to arrest the relative of the accused but through FCR the Government has a right of not only to arrest the relatives of the accused but also destroy the houses and shops of the accused as well as his relatives, which is unjustified. There is no right to appeal in the higher judiciary except a revision appeal to the same bureaucracy. Therefore, it is suggested that FCR should immediately be replaced.
Political parties and political leadership
• Political parties and political leadership are an integral part of the modern democratic set up and play an important role in the life of nations. They, on one hand organize and educate people to defend and secure their rights and fight back the negative tendencies and retrogressive forces while competing for power and popular support they cultivate and make flourish a culture of political tolerance, judgment, awareness and progressiveness which in turn accelerates the process of socio-economic development in the country. Political process generates the spirit of pluralism, broadens the horizons of thinking, which is a base to replace the obsolete values and change of mind and ideas that ultimately lead toward cultural change and overall development. Unfortunately the people of FATA have been deprived of this basic democratic right without which one cannot think of human rights, rule of law, social justice and democracy. Until 1996, the people elected from FATA on the basis of limited franchise but at last on 15 December 1996, the Government gave the right of adult franchise and the first ever election held on the basis of adult franchise in February 3, 1997, had undoubtedly given a new boost to the struggle of pukhtoons of this backward area to overcome the political and administrative apartheid imposed on them by the British colonial rule and to join the main stream. Haji Mohammad writes in The Frontier post on October 9, 1998:
“The inhabitants of FATA may be backward, ignorant but not so much as our top brass and bureaucrats think. At least we are able to differentiate between the fresh and rotten bread. The injustices on the part of Government toward us are intolerable. The people of FATA are as much Pukhtoon as living in other parts of NWFP. If they can live under the existing laws of the country and enjoy all kinds of political rights, why cannot we? We demand political rights, because, all other rights without political rights are meaningless.”
• The government of Pakistan has not only failed to educate the public in general and women in particular about rights and freedoms laid down in the constitution and state law, it has also failed to remove widespread misperceptions that Islam sanctions crimes of honour.
Education Curricula that teach non-violence, conflict resolution, human rights and gender issues should be included in elementary and secondary schools, universities, professional colleges, and other training settings. Violence against women can be prevented and eliminated only when the underlying causes of violence are addressed and cultural norms and attitudes are challenged. Curriculum reform that works towards eliminating the gender stereotyping in schools (teaching about women’s contributions in history class, eliminating sexstereotypes in textbooks, promoting girls’ participation in sports) are important steps in achieving gender equality. A more fundamental problem – that of girls’ enrolment in schools – has to be addressed by governments alongside curriculum reform.
• The media plays a pivotal role in both influencing and changing social norms and behaviour. Repeated exposure to violence in the media has been associated with increased incidence of aggression, especially in children. In the area of domestic violence, media campaigns can help to reverse social attitudes that tolerate violence against women by questioning patterns of violent behaviour accepted by families and societies.63 Collaboration with the media needs to focus on creating new messages and new responses to reduce domestic violence. Hence a conscious effort to make media professionals aware of the issues can play an important role in addressing violence against women. Alternative media channels such as theatre groups, puppeteers, community radio stations, musicians and performers of all sorts have a role to play in raising public awareness of the issue, and creating role models for men and young people in the community.
In the modern world, the press is one of the most important and influential institutions of a country and today is rightly considered as the fourth pillar of a state after legislature, executive and judiciary, rather more powerful than they are, as it keeps check on other three institutions. If any of these pillars gets weakened, the entire edifice collapses. Although FCR has no provision regarding press but it all depends on the whims of the political administration, which is very powerful because of the FCR and the decision of the administration cannot be challenged in any court of law. It is therefore essentials for every society that it should have strong and free press- a real thereat to the prevailiong corrupt system.
Academia And Research Organizations
• Academia and Research Organizations should address the chronic lack of statistics on domestic violence that acts as a barrier to policy change on this issue. The lack of adequate data and documentation about violence against women, and domestic violence in particular, reinforces governments’ silence. In the absence of concrete data, governments have been able to deny the fact of, and their responsibility to address, such violence.
In the area of research, there are several priorities. Reliable data on the magnitude, consequences, and the economic and health costs of gender-based violence will help to place the issue on the policymakers’ radar screen. Researchers need to identify best practices in prevention and treatment, and evaluate them for effectiveness and replicability. Greater collaboration is required between research and academic institutes, women’s organizations, NGOs, and service providers when conducting qualitative research to deepen understanding of the causes of domestic violence, and its physical and psychological impact on women. Such research needs to be fed back to the community so that it can lead to awareness and transformation.
• NWFP is home to 22 million people of whom 35% are living on or below the poverty line today. The bad security situation in the province is mainly the result of years war in Afghanistan since 1979 as well as the presence of thousands of refugees who have destroyed forests, rangeland and water resources in the province. Aggravating the situation has been the scaling down of economic development that has increased unemployment. It is thus not incorrect to state that the main cause of the rise of radicalism and the raging insurgency in NWFP as well as the tribal areas, (where a worse situation prevails), is due to adverse economic conditions which has badly affected livelihoods, employment, social sector and infrastructure outcomes. Many join the Taliban for employment and influence. Creating opportunities for employment will reduce the lure of working for the Taliban. The only problem is that with a worsening security situation investment will not be forthcoming to create employment.
• There are as many Pakistani children going to Madrassas in the country as there are in public schools. The number and the quality of the latter must improve if this alarming trend is to be reversed. Reacting to the anti-American hatred fostered by 10,000 Madrassas in Pakistan, the former American Ambassador to Pakistan, Wendy Chamberlin had very wisely said: “the future of American security depends on the quality of education in Pakistan.” One could only add that the future of nuclear Pakistan also depends on the quality of education in Pakistan. It is high time that the Madrassahs are brought under state control and their curricular revised to make them progressive so that they provide students with employable skills also.
System of local government
• The system of local government should be extended to FATA as alternative to the present system. The so-called agency council that is totally powerless and unrepresentative cannot be an alternative to the proper local government system. It is interesting to note that under the present agency council system women are absolutely excluded from the elections and functioning of the system. Constituencies of jirgas for the nomination of agency council member were not based on territory but were clan based. This retrogressive measure was aimed at pushing back FATA society to clannish basis where it was emerging to some extent from the tribal identity to territorial identity.
Judiciary must be separated from the executive
• The judiciary must be separated from the executive. About the peculiarity of the tribal judicial system Yahya Bakhtiar a renowned lawyer has rightly said, “ There is no Wakeel (legal counsel) no Daleel (no argument) and no Appeal.” The jurisdiction of High Court and Supreme Court should be extended so that the fundamental rights become justiciable in FATA. In the tribal area “ Rule of Law” should be established and “Rule of Man” should be abolished. The milestone of slavery around their necks, the cruel and callous system of political administration riddled with the absurd anomalies must be replaced by a new framework ensuring equality, liberty and justice to end distrust and hostility before it explode with a vengeance.
Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR)
• Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) should be comprehensively amended by taking out all draconian, arbitrary and anti human rights provisions from it to provide a civilized law to FATA.
Roads, piped water, schools and dispensaries
• Roads, piped water, schools and dispensaries are the crying needs of the tribal people and should they be improved it would make a palpable change in their lives. As they cannot afford to remain hermetically sealed from the outside world, the innate urge for reform and uplift their conditions will put pressures on their representatives and ipso facto the Pakistani state.