A thin wedge of the size of Belgium the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan is connecting Central Asia with South Asia. As per article 246 of the 1973 constitution of Pakistan, the FATA consists of a combination of seven agencies namely, Khyber, Mohmand, Kurram, Bajawar, Orakzai, North Waziristan, and South Waziristan. Moreover, six frontier regions are also included in FATA namely, FR Peshawar, FR Bannu, FR Kohat, FR Lakki Marwat, FR D I Khan, and FR Tank. The population of FATA is more than 3.7 million. A semi-arid mountainous region of 27000 square kilometers, located to the east of the Pak-Afghan border along the Durand Line, occupies a crucially important geo-strategic location.
Tribes of Fata
“Yousafzais, Mohmands, Afridis, Shinwaris, Orakzai, Turis, Bangash, Waziris, and Mehsuds” are the chief Pakhtun tribes of the FATA; sharethe famous tribal code of conduct, “Pakhtunwali”. Badal (revenge), Melmastia (hospitality), Nanawate (forgiving the accused, who surrenders), and Tega (truce) are the principle pillars of Pakhtunwali.
Religiously the inhabitants of the tribal areas of Pakistan are highly pious Muslims and feel pride in their history and culture.
Shedding light on the history shows the fact that the Greeks, Turks, Mughals, Afghans, Sikhs,and even the British, who invaded northern India at different points in time, failed to subdue them. Internally, independent but economically poor, the overwhelming majority of the tribals live on very meager resources.
Today in the FATA, some of the institutions and legacies of British rule are the “Moajib” (subsidy) to Maliks, the Khassadar system (tribal levies and tribals militias), forts, Pakistan Army’s Frontier Force Regiments, the creation of agencies, the Khyber Railway and the Frontier Crimes Regulations.
Historical Background of FATA
Genghis Khan’s Defeated by PATHANS:
The one who made minarets of skull, defeated with an iron hand by the tribes of FATA. When Genghis Khan was on conquering the world when he reached FATA, he was defeated very strongly by the Pathans of FATA. This was the first time that Genghis went back to Mongol Empire without victory.
British Leaders were unaware of the FATA’s history, regarding to Genghis Khan
From 1849 to 1947, the policy of British India towards tribal areas began with a conciliatory attitude and then a campaign of reprisal in the form of fines, blockades, expeditions hit and run tactics, therefore, called the butcher and bolt policy, and finally to the brokering of agreements. Then the British policy towards the tribal areas was dictated by the imperative of containing Russia beyond the frontiers of Afghanistan and its other buffer zones. A part from the perception of threat, which arose from Russian, advances toward Turkistan and Central Asia, recurring tribal uprisings, particularly by Wazirs, Mehsuds and Mohmandsfor almost two decades gave the British rulers of India chronic neuralgia.
Tribal Jirgas and Accession to Pakistan
In November 1947, in the wake of the Partition Plan of 3 June that same year, George Cunningham, the governor of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), negotiated fresh agreements with the tribal jirgas, who without exception declared their accession to Pakistan. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan, accepted the autonomous character of the tribal areas through the Instrument of Accession, which he signed at the Bannu Tribal Jirga in November 1948.
From 1947 to 1955 and from 1956 to 1958, the NWFP Governor acted as agent to the Governor-General and the President of Pakistan respectively for the administration of tribal areas. With the dissolution of one unit scheme on 1 July 1970, Dir, Swat, Chitral, and the Malakand, protected areas and the Hazara territory were included in the NWFP. Likewise, Zhob, Sibi, Loralai, and Chaghi were made part of Baluchistan. The remaining parts of tribal areas were declared as Federally Administrated Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Under the constitution of 1973, all “Maliks” from the tribal areas constitute the Electoral College, with the eight seats in Pakistan’s National Assembly, the lower house of Pakistani Parliament, for the whole of the FATA.
The 1997 elections in Pakistan saw, for the first time, the system of adult franchise introduced in the FATA for 1.6 million eligible voters. In them, 298 candidates contested eight reserved seats for the whole of FATA. Under the 17th Amendment, introduced to the constitution of Pakistan in 2002, the reserved seats of FATA were increased from eight to twelve. Apart from twelve seats in National Assembly, eight seats elected by direct vote are also reserved for the FATA in Senate, the upper house of Pakistani parliament.
The System of Administration in FATA
The FATA is one of the federal entities of Pakistan is administrated under the Frontier Crimes Regulations, which the British rulers of India has devised upon their occupation of Pakhtun areas in 1849. Its present form was implemented in 1901. The system of administration in the FATA is based on the principle of collective territorial responsibility of a tribe, which is executed through a body of elders called “Maliks”. The system requires the observance of the principle of inter se tribal equilibrium, called “Nikat”. Law of the soil is based on “Rivaj” and is implemented by “Jirga”or council of elder; appointed by political agent. The Political Agent is the chief executive of the agency. The recommendation of the council are enforced by “Khassadars” or corps levies, which are draw from amongst the tribes and which are supplemented by the Frontier Corps (FC) in times of need. The institutions of “Moajib”, “Maliki”, and “Khassadari” are synonymous with tribal administration in the FATA.
Effects of Soviet Invasion in Afghanistan on FATA
Weaponry of FATA
The Soviet invasion in Afghanistan in 1979 and influx of more than 3.5 million immigrants to Pakistan brought “Kalashnikov Culture” to the tribal areas as well as the settled areas of Pakistan. The supply of anti-aircraft missiles to the “Mujahideen” converted the FATA into a stronghold or sanctuary of the “Mujahideen”.
In the post 9/11 era, the collapse of Taliban government in Afghanistan was followed by resistance by Al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan and across the Durand Line. After the famous “Tora Bora” operation by the US and its allied forces in Afghanistan, the drift into “Talibanization” in the FATA began.
Pakistan Army started a strong campaign against the brutalities of terrorists in FATA and especially in North Waziristan. It was impossible to eliminate terrorists from such frontline area of the country but the Pakistan Army made it possible they proved that “whatever Pak Army wants to do for the safety of the nation, they just do it”. The operation would never succeed if the Pathans were not cooperated to Pak Army. The inhabitants cooperated, Pakistan Army in a well manner. As a result, the area became secure and now the people are living a happy life.
Future of FATA
The future of FATA is the future of Pakistan. Pakistan Army’s actions and operations in FATA during the war on terror have realized the world at large that the Durand Line is the permanent international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan and that maintenance of peace in the area is the sole responsibility of the government of Pakistan, as it is the integral part of Pakistan.
Amendments in The Favor of FATA
The recent amendments in the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) in 2011, is a right step in the right direction but its implementation and application would lessen up to a great extent the grievances of the inhabitants of FATA.
Economical strengthen of FATA
Bringing the FATA into mainstream of Pakistani society, uplifting the socio-economic standard of the people of FATA, and eliminating their sense of deprivation are prerequisites for national integration.
Good relations causes increase in stability
Political analysis are of the view that not only for peace in Pakistan and the world at large but for the friendly and good neighborly, Pak-Afghan relations and convincing the Central Asian States to use Pakistani seaports for their imports and exports as well. FATA deserves to be stabilized economically and politically within the ambit of the constitution of Pakistan.
Will FATA be merged into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa?
Nowadays the debate that whether FATA will be merged into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or it would become a separate province? It is the right of the people of FATA to decide about their future; whether they want to keep intact the existing status or they exercise any other option. The government of Pakistan will just facilitate them to determine their future within the ambit of constitution of Pakistan.