Mainstreaming of FATA is inevitable and the plans for which it was kept as a buffer zone are no more practicable
After a rigorous emphasis on mainstreaming FATA in national action plan followed by a consensus amongst the FATA parliamentarians on the integration of FATA in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the change should have been made inevitable. The state apparently had no reason left to carry on with the status quo and dishonor the will of the people, but unfortunately, they don’t seem to be breaking the status quo. Instead of going for a debate on parliament on the proposed 22nd amendment bill, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif like the previous practices constituted a committee having no representation from FATA to peruse the matter. The committee has visited various agencies of FATA and had meetings with the Jirga’s having members pin pointed by the political agent.
The masses of FATA are still facing the wrath of FCR. In a very short span of time, we have witnessed a series of events showing the unaccountable and absurd use of the black law. A youth activist from the Youth of Waziristan, an organization of youth activists was detained by the political agent of North Waziristan for posting corruption allegations against the latter on social media. In another event, the political administration of South Waziristan agency arrested 22 tribal men under the collective responsibility clause of the frontier crimes regulations. Their arrest was made after some official of FATA Development Authority were kidnapped during their visit to an under construction Dam in Dwa Thoi. After the operation Rah-e-Nijat started in 2009 against the terrorists in South Waziristan Agency, the locals have also been barred from carrying weapons by the security agencies and nobody is allowed to carry a weapon publicly which used to be a routine practice in the past. Now in the presence of militants in the area expecting the unarmed tribesmen to ensure law and order situation and charging them under collective responsibility clause on failure is simply a shameful act. The social structure of FATA has been badly destabilized during the turmoil of militancy in the last fifteen years. They are in no position to ensure the law and order of the area in the presence of militants from all over the world. The irony is that the state is expecting a job from the people of FATA, which they are unable to perform in the last fifteen years.
The bureaucracy who apparently is the biggest beneficiary of the current status of FATA is in full swing of misusing their unaccountable authority against the people of FATA. The perfect example of that was portrayed in a video, which went viral on the social media a few days ago. It shows the political agent of Bajaur Agency arrogantly threatening a gathering of the tribal elders. He is threatening the gathering that “if someone criticized the government officials and the security agencies on social media! The FCR is there, and he knows how to use it”. The threatening words of the PA were highly condemned on the social media and was also reported by the international news agencies but the state authorities have yet to be bothered by the degrading remarks of the political agent and take any action against him. In another such kind of case the political administration has arrested a class 10th student in Kurram Agency under the collective responsibility section 21 of FCR. Though after amendment’s made in FCR through the executive order of president on August 2011, citizens above 65 and children below 16 were exempted to be charged with collective responsibility, thus the political administration has overruled the FCR also.
Along the inhuman treatments under FCR, the displaced status of most of the people of FATA increased their miseries. Though the return of IDP’s to their areas has been started at a very slow pace but there are some weird requirements the administration is asking the IDP’s to fulfill before their return. All the IDP’s going back to their areas are required to re-register themselves and make a “Watan Card” before going back. A person without a Watan Card is not allowed to enter their hometown. One cannot understand the reason behind registering with this new identity in the presence of the already existing national identity card. The issue of shops destroyed and bulldozed in Mir Ali and Miranshah Bazars are also yet to be resolved. There were about four thousand shops in Mir Ali and more than seven thousand shops in Miranshah Bazar and the owners are yet to get any clear working plan about the compensation and rehabilitation of their property. The locals have also raised serious concerns over the newly made market by Pak-Army in “Gora Qabristan” near Miranshah Bazar. Residents of the area are claiming that the market has been made on our land and we have not been taken into confidence and have requested the people to not take part in the auction of the shops announced by political administration.
Agonies of the people of FATA have an unending list and the dilemma is that they have no forum available to seek justice. Mainstreaming of FATA is inevitable and the plans for which it was kept as a buffer zone are no more practicable. The regional peace talks are about to begin again and to ensure our sincerity and seriousness, we have to take some tangible steps. FATA has to be mainstreamed and the difference between the good and bad militants has to be brought to an end. The region has got some very rich plans to explore in their hands. China is planning to explore new business routes to Central Asia, Europe and the rest of the world through CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) and by reviving the old silk route. The geographical location of FATA has made it an essential part of all theses plans. The current status of FATA and CPEC cannot go together. Unfortunately, FATA is the epicenter of terrorism and is hitting upon the nerves of our state but it seems that the benefits of a few individuals of grade 22 are more sacred than the priorities of the state, therefore, we are far away from our goals of being prosperous and peaceful. Our state has now to decide whether they had to still hanged in their policies of strategic depth or they need to be a vital player in the regional power. The stigma of duplicity in the state policies has led the nation to a state of confusion between the two paradox of being a theocratic or progressive state which can only produce nothing but clones of apes.
Writer: Mohsin Dawar