The Third Option: Analysis

Muhammad Zubair Khan

Muhammad Zubair Khan

The debate about the status of FATA has so far involved only two options: should FATA become part of KP or an independent province.

I have so far vehemently emphasized the importance of ‘the process of arriving at the decision’, and I have essentially argued that the ultimately decision should be taken by the people of FATA themselves.

Deferring to what the people of FATA finally decide, as a tribal Pashtun from South Waziristan, today I would also like to express my individual / personal opinion in the form of the third option.

What is THIRD OPTION: It is joining together of FATA, KP, PATA, and Pashtun areas of Baluchistan into one province. In other words, making a case for the re-drawing of provincial boundaries in such a way that the ethnic and territorial boundaries of the provinces coincide — with the result that Pashtuns, scattered in these artificial divisions / units, are united into one province. It would also result into ethnic homogeneity (as far as as possible) within the provinces and heterogeneity / diversity at Pakistan level. The Pashtun province will become an economic, political and constitutional power. Needless to say that historically the third option has been a nightmare for the Punjabi+Muhajir combine (the state elites) in the first decades of Pakistan. Read the debates in the second constituent assembly leading to the creation of One-Unit if you are interested to investigate this claim further. Since they looked at the Pashtun leadership with suspicion, they made sure to keep Pashtuns divided, for otherwise, in their eyes, Pashtunistan was an inevitability.

Now this third option should have been the very first option for Pashtun nationalist parties. After all, seeking unity amongst the ranks of Pashtun should naturally be on top of their political agenda. But unfortunately it is not. Why? Historically speaking PkMAP leadership in the past had been struggling for the merger of what was then called the British Baluchistan (Pashtun populated areas of Baluchistan) and the present KP. One can only wonder why, with that political stance in the past, the PkMAP would now argue the case of political division amongst Pashtuns by opposing the merger of FATA with KP. Similarly one can only wonder why ANP, while its leadership having successfully thwarted the discourse of the merger of Pashtun Baluchistan and KP in the past, would go half way and only demand merger of FATA and KP. Probably, it is the elite interest of the Pashtun nationalist parties — and not the interests of the common Pashtuns — that dictates their party policies. ANP is merely interested in extending the political base of Hashtnaghar / Charsadda to the far end of Durand Line (we the tribesmen from FATA know very well how much the ANP has cared for us in what happened to us during the last one and half decade). PkMAP, on the other hand, seeing that the proposed changed status of FATA is not going to increase the political strength of Gulistan, therefore it does not want FATA to become part of the KP. For it would make the ANP stronger. And both ANP and PkMAP do not want merger of Pashtun areas of Baluchistan and KP with one another because then Charsadda and Gulistan will not have their own separate governments, Governors, CMs, provincial assemblies etc. And thus the merger will force them to share with each other the limited power positions in one province that would obviously cut their existing share in the peanuts of power that they are sticking to.

So folks, please leave partisan position and give your thoughts to the third option. And if you are convinced — as I am — that it is the right option, then let us get above party politics and put pressure on our leadership to work for that goal. That is absolutely important for the protection of Pashtun and other minority groups interests within the federal framework. Under the exiting arrangements, where the Pashtuns have been deliberately kept divided, only strengthen the political, economic and constitutional hegemony of Punjab.

Writer: Muhammad Zubair Khan

The writer comes from Mahsud tribe of South Waziristan. He has taught law at the University of Peshawar for almost ten years as Assistant Professor. Currently, he is completing PhD from Maurer School of Law, Center of Constitutional Democracy, Indiana University USA. His areas of interest include nationalism, ethnicity, ethno-national conflicts and constitutional design for ethnically divided societies. He can be reached at


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