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Federally Administered Tribal Areas

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan are areas outside the four provinces bordering Afghanistan, comprising a region of some 27,220 km² (10,507 sq mi). The other area of Pakistan also outside the provinces is Azad Kashmir.

Geography

The FATA are bordered by: Afghanistan to the west with the border marked by the Durand Line, the North-West Frontier Province and the Punjab to the east, and Balochistan to the south.

The total population of the FATA was estimated in 2000 to be about 3,341,070 people, or roughly 2% of Pakistan's population. Only 3.1% of the population resides in established townships. It is the most rural administrative unit in Pakistan.

The Tribal Areas comprise seven Agencies, namely Khyber, Kurram, Bajaur, Mohmand, Orakzai, North and South areas of Waziristan and six FRs (Frontier Regions) namely FR Peshawar, FR Kohat, FR Tank, FR Banuu, FR Lakki and FR Dera Ismail Khan. The main towns include Miranshah, Razmak, Bajaur, Darra Bazzar, Ghalanai as Head Quareters of Mohmand Agency and Wana .

The 7 tribal areas lie in a north-to-south strip that is adjacent to the west side of the 6 frontier regions, which also lie in a north-to-south strip. The areas within each of those 2 regions are geographically arranged in a sequence from north to south.

The geographical arrangement of the 7 tribal areas in order from north to south is: Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram, North Waziristan, South Waziristan. The geographical arrangement of the 6 frontier regions in order from north to south is: Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Tank, Dera Ismael Khan.

There are 20 legislators from FATA in the National Assembly and Senate of Pakistan. (12 MNAs & 8 Senators.)

Name of the current governor is Awais Ahmad Ghani

Governance

The region is only nominally controlled by the central government of Pakistan. In reality it is practically entirely controlled by the Pakistani Taleban. Notification, the region is controlled by tribal elders and not taliban insurgents.

The mainly Pashtun tribes that inhabit the areas are fiercely independent but, until friction following the fall of the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan, the tribes had friendly relations with Pakistan's central government. These Tribes are governed by the Frontier Crimes Regulation introduced under the British Raj. They are represented both in Pakistan's lower house and in its upper house of parliament. Previously, tribal candidates had no party affiliations and could contest as independents, because the Political Parties Act had not extended to the tribal areas. However, tribesmen were given right to vote in the 1997 general elections despite the absence of a Political Parties Act.

Historical populations
Census Population Urban

1951 1,332,005 -
1961 1,847,195 1.33%
1972 2,491,230 0.53%
1981 2,198,547 -
1998 3,176,331 2.69%

The head of each tribal Agency is the Political Agent. The Agent wields extensive powers. Each Agency, depending on its size, has about 2 to 3 Assistant Political Agents, about 3 to 4 Tehsildars and 4 to 9 Naib Tehsildars with the requisite supporting staff. Each FR is headed by the DC/DCO (for FR Peshawar, DC/DCO Peshawar and so on). Under his supervision there is one Assistant Political Agent and about 1 or 2 Tehsildars and Naib Tehsildars, as well as support staff. Each Agency has roughly 2 to 3 thousand Khasadars and levies and 5 to 9 Wings of FC for maintenance of law and order in the Agency and borders security.

About 30% of the FATA is inaccessible both politically and administratively.

"Tribal elders, local imams and governors known as political agents [...] are the on-the-ground arbiters of all decisions in many districts," according to a July 2007 report in The New York Times. "The political agents are widely considered corrupt."

FATA before independence

Ancient history

There are scant sources on the ancient history of the tribal belt, excepting tribal annals. Successive invaders have passed through this area or incorporated it within their empire. These included the Aryans (before 500 BC), thereafter the Achaemenian (as a result of Cyrus the Great's conquests), Graeco-Scythian invasions (324-320 BC) under Alexander the Great, Mauryans (313-232 BC), Greco-Bactrians (185-90 BC), and Sakas from 97 BC. During the first millennium CE, Parthians, Yue-chi (i.e. Kushans), Sassanians, White Huns and Turks followed in succession. They have the admixture of various warriors who passed through this area. For instance, the Afridis have "an admixture of Greek blood.

From 500 BCE to 200CE, Gandhara - the general area from Islamabad to Kabul - was influenced by the Achaemenians. For the following century, it was influenced by the Mauryans, and for the century after that it was influenced by Graeco-Bactrians. Thereafter, Saka nomadic invaders entered Gandhara. The Pashtun language, widely spoken in the region, is probably a Saka dialect introduced from the north.

The region which includes "Afghanistan and the North-West Frontier of Pakistan have seen perhaps more invasions in the course of history than any other country in Asia, or indeed in the world. During this period, when the plains had been dominated by great powers, the hill tracts and tribes continued to protect their independence.

Turko-Pashtun Era

The spread of Islam in the tribal belt dates back to the rise of the Turkish dynasty in Ghazni from about 960 AD. Mahmud of Ghazni conquered and incorporated areas of the subcontinent up to Lahore. Ghorid Sultan Muizzuddin Muhammad, with his headquarters in Ghor, subdued the north part of the subcontinent and was the founder of Muslim supremacy in Delhi in 1206. The fall of the Ghorids was followed by successive incursions of various forces from Central Asia. The most notable of these were those of conquerors Genghis Khan in 1221 and of Timur in 1398.

The tribesmen formed the "spearhead of the Muslim penetration and conquest of India, first as soldiers of fortune and later as powerful kings, even as sultans and emperors." "The Turks were a small band of chosen favourites; the soldiers, and later the rulers, were Ghaljis or Afghans." Apart from the Turks, i.e. Ghaznavids (1001-1186), Ghorids (1186-1290), and Tughlaqs (1321-1451), three Afghan dynasties, i.e., Khaljis (1290-1321), Lodis (1451-1526) and Suris (1539-55), had sat on the throne of Delhi. But their authority did not extend over the tribal belt. Babur, the conqueror of India and founder of the Mughal dynasty, wrote of the empire of Lodis that "its writ did not run effectively west of the Indus, and it had no control over the Afghan or Pashtun homelands from which its rulers had originally come."

The Afghan dynasties who ruled in India "attracted many frontiersmen to their banners." The firman (royal edict) of Bahlol Lodhi (1451-1489), the ruler of Delhi, encouraging frontier tribes of the northwest to take service in Delhi stated:

Hindustan can best be held by somebody who rules over a nation with tribes. Let every Afghan tribesman bring his relatives leading a life of indigence, let them come and take up estates in Hind, relieving themselves from straitened circumstances, and supporting the State against powerful enemies.

The declining flow of Pashtun(Afghan) warriors from the tribal belt may be one of the important causes of their downfall. The lack of support became obvious after the death of Sher Shah Suri in 1555.

Mughal Empire

Babur (1526-1530), a descendant of Timur, came down from Central Asia to Kabul in 1504. He was the founder of the Mughal dynasty (1526-1857) in the subcontinent. The support of the tribesmen helped him in his conquest of India. "In all these expeditions there is no doubt that Babur’s armies were greatly strengthened by tribal contingents supplied by the Yusufzais and other tribes". Not only Babur, but also the remaining Mughal rulers greatly "depended on Afghan mercenaries". At the same time Babur’s main adversaries were the tribesmen on their own home ground. These stood on the lines of communication which a prospective conqueror of Hindustan, who starts from Central Asia, must secure and maintain through the hill country intervening between Kabul and the Jihlam [Jhelum] River. Many years were to elapse before Babur could do this, and reading between the lines of his story, we can see very clearly that he was in a continual state of anxiety and annoyance over difficulties that in fact he was never able entirely to resolve. Later emperors of his line were no more successful in achieving enduring solutions."

Babur mentions the names of the local tribes in his autobiography, this is the first time they were recorded. The prominent ones mentioned by Babur are Yusufzais (Babur married a Yusufzai woman), Afridis, Orakzais, Bangash, Turis, Dilazaks, Mohmands, Gigianis, Muhammadzais, Lohanis, Niazis, Isa Khels, Ghaljis and Wazirs. The Afridis live in Khyber, the Yusufzais in Swat and the Samah, the Muhammadzis in Hashtnagar, the Bangashes around Hangu, the Lohanis in the Daman, the Ghaljis around Ghazni. The Khattaks, who are not mentioned by Babur with this name, live in the neighbourhood of Bannu.

Babur could not master the territory bounded on the north by the Koh-i-Sufaid down as far as Bannu, where Bangash, Turis, Wazirs live, as is clear from his comments:

The tribes of Bangash lie out of the way, and do not willingly pay taxes. Being occupied by many affairs of superior importance, such as the conquest of Kandahar, Balkh, Badakhshan and Hindustan, I never found leisure to apply myself to the settlement of Bangash. But if Almighty God prosper my wishes, my first moment of leisure shall be devoted to the settlement of that district, and of its plundering neighbours.

He writes in a similar tone about Wazirs, but his hope of dominating them was never fulfilled. Similarly, Akbar the Great (1556-1605) could not prevail "in any decisive fashion against any of the tribes except those who found it to their interest, in return for consideration, to guard the King’s highway." Thereafter "no serious endeavour was made by any of his successors, or indeed by the Durranis who followed to bring … any of the … mountain regions under administrative subjection…"

During the reigns of Jehangir (1608-1627) and Shah Jahan (1628-1658), the wars against the Yusufzais and hillmen continued. The Mughal rulers were also fighting for the possession of Kandahar. The struggle for Kandahar did not absolve the Mughals from the troubles in the tribal area. Jehangir in the third year of his reign, in 1607, visited Kabul. The most successful Mughal General Shah Beg who had taken possession of Kandahar some twelve years back was given governance over "the whole and troublous Sarkar of Kabul, Tirah, Bangash, Swat and Bajaur, with entire control over the Afghans of these regions, an assignment of their territories in jagir, and the title of Khan-i-Dauran (Chief of the Age)".

Shah Jahan appointed one brave general, Said Khan from Kohat, as governor of Kabul, and raised him to the rank of commander of 5000 cavalry. The North-West Frontier Province in general, especially Khattaks along with a number of other tribes, were under revolt against the last powerful Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707). Thereafter the Mughal emperors were too weak to think of an adventurous course of controlling the tribes.

Durrani Empire

When Nadir Shah, the King of Persia, invaded India in 1739, the Afghan/Pashtun contingent became the corps d’elite of his army, hence the name "pusht: ribs or bones structure". The Afghan/Pashtun corps of cavalry, numbering between 4000 and 16,000, was commanded by Nur Muhammad Khan, an Abdali of Alizai clan. They accompanied the king to India and "participated in all the dangers and successes of that campaign." Ahmad Khan was the commander of the Abdali contingent from Afghanistan. He was the bodyguard of King Nadir Shah of Iran. When Nadir Shah, after his successful invasion of India, was returning to Persia, the tribes had closed the defiles and besieged him. His forces could not win against them in spite of loyal support of Afghan Abdalis, and "had paid a heavy toll in cash to the mountaineers" to get a passage.

Nadir’s support to Abdalis led to the jealousies of other ethnic groups in Persia and he was murdered in 1747 by Muhammad Khan Qajar, the founder of Qajar dynasty who succeeded him on the throne of Persia. The commander of Abdali contingent Ahmed Khan, aged 24, forced his way to the royal tent only to find Nadir dead. Ahmed Khan finding his patron dead made his way to Kandhar and then to Kabul along with his Abdali contingent. He is the founder of the independent kingdom of Afghanistan in that year. He was a "born leader … he had himself crowned as Ahmad Shah in Kandhar. He assumed the title Durr-i-Durran, Pearl of Pearls… From that time his tribe, the Abdalis [which is a branch of Saddozai clan] have been known as the Durranis." Later he conquered and incorporated West Punjab and Kashmir in his empire and thus under him Afghanistan and most of the present day Pakistan were formed as one state.

Ahmad Shah Abdali (1747-1773) was the hero of the most important battle of Panipat north of Delhi in 1761, which he fought with the help of Pashtun tribesmen. He defeated the great army of the Maratha confederacy. It was "one of the decisive battles of the world", for it eliminated the prospects of Maratha domination over north India, it hastened the disintegration of the Mughal Empire, facilitated the rise of Sikhs in the Punjab, and finally paved the way for "the gradual extension of British authority to Delhi and later to the Panjab."

However, the tribal belt "remained a welter of warlike tribes … it was the inexhaustible spring from which mercenary armies could be drawn". Throughout history they have enjoyed independence or a semi-independent status. The powerful rulers tried to subdue them but eventually they had to compromise to give them a semi-independent status. Even the Pathan dynasties ruling over India depended on manpower from the tribal territories but their writ did not extend to these territories.

Sikh Rule

The Durrani ruler of Lahore, Shah Zaman (1793-1800), the grandson of Ahmad Shah under compulsion of infighting at Kabul withdrew from Lahore in 1799 and appointed a Sikh leader, Ranjit Singh as his viceroy. Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1799-1839) was an ambitious and capable ruler. He established Sikh rule in the Punjab. When he could not expand his empire towards east and south due to the presence of English, he decided to move towards the west. He was able to overrun the trans-Indus plains including Peshawar and Bannu.

When he decided to pass through the tribal belt and establish his rule in Jalalabad and Kabul, several battles were fought. Finally, the Sikhs were stopped in the hills around Jamrud where the tribes gave them fierce battle. The Sikhs were defeated and retreated in 1837. It was here that they lost their renowned general Hari Singh Nalwa, who had earlier captured Bala Hissar (the citadel of Peshawar) in 1834.

The Sikhs’ rule around Peshawar was not stable. They "possessed but little influence in the trans-Indus tracts, and what influence they had was confined to the plains. Even here they were obeyed only in the immediate vicinity of their forts which studded the country". The tribesmen checked the advance of Sikhs and safeguarded their independence as always in the past.

British Raj

During early 19th century, the British had established their supremacy over the subcontinent except Balochistan, Sindh and the northwest tribal belt. All of these areas are now part of Pakistan. These were practically independent but theoretically under Kabul. The NWFP west of the tribal belt and the Punjab had become independent of Kabul under Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh.

It was the period when Russia was advancing southwards in Central Asia. The British government in London was perturbed and thought it an "imminent peril to the security and tranquillity" of the Indian Empire and asked the government of India to checkmate them. Thus began British involvement with NWFP, its tribal belt and Afghanistan.

First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-42)

It was understood both in London and Calcutta, which was then the headquarters of the ruling East India Company, that the Emir of Afghanistan was entering into secret negotiations with Russia. Accordingly, in 1838, the Government of India declared war against Afghanistan. Since Ranjit Singh, the ruler of the Punjab, would not give passage to the East India Company's army through his territory, Lord Auckland, the British Governor-General of India (1838-42), decided to dispatch his forces through Sindh. Earlier, Governor-General Lord Minto (1807-13), as a precaution against the threat of French invasion, had concluded a treaty of "eternal friendship" with the Amir of Sindh in 1809. Now, Auckland forced the Amir to agree to give passage to the English army and to contribute money towards the Afghan war and threatened him with "power to crush and annihilate them," and that they "will not hesitate to call it into action, should it appear requisite, however remotely, for either the integrity or safety" of the British empire.

In 1839, the British-led Indian Army passed through Sindh and Balochistan and conquered Kandahar and Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan. The army of occupation decided to stay back in Kabul. During the winter of 1841-42, there was a mass uprising against foreign forces and the Indian army comprising twelve thousand soldiers left the city of Kabul along with their followers and marched eastward in the direction of Jalalabad for safety. The tribesmen gradually destroyed the entire Indian forces while on retreat. By January 1842, only one Dr Brydon was able to reach Jalalabad to narrate the tragic story of the massacre of their comrades. "A large British-led army had not been wiped out so completely in living memory."

Annexation of Sindh and the Punjab (1843-49)

As a consequence of the defeat in Afghanistan, to rehabilitate their prestige, the East India Company forced a war on Sindh, defeated the Baloch forces of the Talpurs at the battles of Miani and Dabo, and annexed the province of Sindh in 1843. After the death of Ranjit Singh, there were a series of revolutions in the Punjab. The English fought two wars in the Punjab against Sikhs in 1846 and 1848-49 and after successively defeating them annexed the province of the Punjab in 1849. Beyond the plains of Sindh and the Punjab which the Company forces had conquered, there lived the Pathan and Baloch tribes in the hills.

Sandeman system

The arrangement made by Sandeman is known as the Sandeman System. It rested on the occupation of central points in Kalat and tribal territory in considerable force, linking them together by fair-weather roads, and leaving the tribes to manage their own affairs according to their own customs and working through their chiefs and maliks. The maliks were required to enlist levies paid by government but regarded as tribal servants.

It is also known as the Khassadar system. For sometime there was no interference with the tribes. Sandeman adopted a policy in which he used the local tribes for purposes of policing the tribal area. He recruited tribesmen and formed khassadar Regiments. These Regiments took the place of the British Army in tribal area. Large subsidies were paid to the tribal maliks. These maliks had to perform certain difficult duties such as protecting merchants, keeping roads open and in case of trouble, finding out the troublemakers. The system of khassadars, or tribal police was somewhat successful in Balochistan. It was to give monetary benefits to the tribesmen under the supervision of maliks, in return for maintaining order in the tribe.

Since these areas nominally acknowledged the sovereignty of Kabul, the British according to a treaty with Amir Sher Ali, the King of Afghanistan, signed in 1879 took over Pishin and Sibi, apart from Kurram, and Khyber. Thus the British were able to reach Chaman, which is at a short distance from Kandahar in Afghanistan.

"Policy of Masterly Inactivity" or Close Border Policy

The Punjab Government under the overall direction of the British Government in India followed a policy that required guarding the frontier to minimize the tribal raids and, in case of raids, send military expeditions for reprisals. "Non-aggression on tribal territory and non-interference in tribal affairs" were the objectives of this policy. Following their defeat in the First Anglo-Afghan War (1838-42) the British had realized that the task of ruling over the tribal territory in NWFP and Afghanistan was beyond their resources in India. Thus they followed the policy of "masterly inactivity" or "close door policy" and their interest in the affairs of the tribal area in NWFP and Afghanistan remained minimal.

For purposes of defence, a paramilitary force under the Government of the Punjab called the Punjab Frontier Force was raised and later it was merged with the regular Indian Army in 1886. The defence was organized by creating a line of forts along the administrative boundary. Roads were built to connect these forts and facilitate inter-communication.

Simultaneously conciliatory measures were adopted. Agreements were concluded with the tribes to maintain peace and order for which they were paid monetary benefits in the shape of subsidies and allowances. The tribesmen were allowed to enter British administered territory for purposes of trade and commerce, but British officers were not allowed to enter the tribal territory. According to British sources the tribesmen broke the agreements very often. As a consequence the government had to stop allowances, impose fines, enforce blockades and if these did not work they had to resort to military operations. "Between 1849 and 1899, the Punjab Government undertook as many as sixty-two expeditions."

From the annexation of the Punjab in 1849 to the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Afghan War in 1878 the British followed the "so-called close-border policy" but abandoned it thereafter.

Forward Policy and Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-79)

There was a change in British policy after 1876, owing to the conquest of Sindh (1843) and the Punjab (1849), as well as to concern among British strategists in London about the advance of the Russian armies in Turkestan. The policy of Benjamin Disraeli, who became prime minister of Britain in 1874, was to build a strategic line of defence against Russian advance in Central Asia. It was felt that sooner or later the British and the Russian forces would confront each other in Central Asia. This thinking led the British to increase their sphere of influence in Afghanistan. In 1876 Lord Lytton, the Viceroy of India wrote to the Secretary of State for India that:
The more I think over the geographical facts of our position the stronger becomes my impression that the real key to it is at Kabul from Herat to the north-east extremity of Kashmir one great continuous watershed [of Hindu Kush mountain] seems to indicate the natural defensive bulwark of India. I am inclined to think that, if we took our stand along this line, with a sufficient margin north of it to leave us in command of the passes on both sides, our position would be a sufficiently strong one for all defensive purposes.

Amir Sher Ali of Afghanistan refused to allow a British envoy at Kabul. Following this, Lord Lytton declared war on 20 November 1878, and British troops invaded Afghanistan. Sher Ali ran away and later died. His son Mohammad Yaqub Khan concluded the Treaty of Gandamak on 26 May 1879 agreeing to British terms including ceding of Pishin and Sibi (now part of Balochistan), besides Khyber and Kurram, The war had encouraged the British formally to occupy most of the tribal belt. It included a permanent advance and control of the Khyber Pass, but the Kurram valley was occupied some years later.

Scientific Frontier and Durand Line (1893)

Lord Lytton (1876-80) put forward the idea of a scientific frontier. Military experts came to be divided into two groups – the forward and the backward. The backward group advocated that Indus should be the frontier line because the tribesmen were troublesome and fanatic and would not tolerate interference; it was difficult to fight in the mountains; and it was very expensive to have British Cantonments in the tribal territory.

The forward group advocated that the frontier should be from Kabul through Ghazni to Kandhar because unless the tribal country was occupied tribesmen would continue to give trouble; river frontier was not a frontier at all; tribal area could pay the expenses of military occupation if its mineral resources were developed; and even if the policy was expensive it must be adopted for the sake of India’s security.

For some time the British policy oscillated between the backward and the forward schools. In the time of Lord Lansdowne (1888-94) a compromise was arrived at. The boundary between Afghanistan and India was drawn on scientific lines keeping in view the requirements of defence. The dividing line came to be known as the Durand Line. Accordingly, in 1893, Sir Mortimer Durand concluded an agreement with Abdur Rahman Khan of Afghanistan fixing the boundary line from Wakhan in the north to the Iranian border in the south (i.e. the junction of Iran, Afghanistan and Balochistan). There was also some adjustment of territories. For instance, the British Government agreed to Amir of Afghanistan retaining Asmar and the Amir in turn agreed that "he will at no time exercise interference in Swat, Bajaur and Chitral". Similarly, the British Government agreed to leave to the Amir a portion of Waziristan (i.e. Birmal) and Amir relinquished his claim to the rest of the Waziristan. A clause in the agreement stated:

The Government of India will at no time exercise interference in the territories lying beyond this line on the side of Afghanistan, and His Highness the Amir will at no time exercise interference in the territories lying beyond this line on the side of India.

"Hit and Run" Policy and war with tribes (1897-98)

In the beginning the British had adopted an attitude of conciliation. Frontier duties were abolished, free trade was established, medical facilities were provided and tribesmen were recruited in the army and the police. Since this policy could not remove the basic cause of the trouble—the economic needs of the area–it failed. The tribesmen continued to plunder the British territory. To check this, the policy of reprisals—fines, blockades and expeditions—was adopted. These methods were used to force the tribesmen to come to terms. This was called the "Hit and Run Policy". It also did not succeed.

The policies and the intrusion of British forces, especially in Waziristan was seen by tribesmen as a "menace" to their independence. When in June 1897, the Political Agent had gone with a military escort to select a site for a levy post in Maizar, a Waziri village, in North Waziristan, they were "at first hospitably received, but suddenly attacked. All their officers [who were British] were killed or wounded…" This was followed by an attack by tribes of Malakand against the garrisons in the pass and in Chakdara. By August, Mohmands attacked at Shabqadr, and later Afridi and Orakzai attacked at Tirah and the Khybar post was lost by the British. The Samana forts were attacked and "the garrison in one case wiped out to a man." Later Khyber was reoccupied and Khyber Rifles were re-established and new roads and more forts were built.

This uprising involved bulk of the tribes: Darwesh Khel Waziris, the Swatis, the Mohmands, the Afridis and the Orakzais. The Mohmands did not rise in 1897.

Withdrawal and concentration policy

After the 1897-98 war with tribes, the controversy between the backward and the forward schools assumed a new meaning. Now the controversy was whether the tribal territory up to the Durand Line should be occupied or should the British fall back upon Indus. The tribes who had neither been consulted nor considered did not like this change and interference in their affairs. They resented the loss of their independence and uprisings continued.

To meet the situation, Lord Curzon (1899-1905) adopted a policy of "withdrawal and concentration" – withdrawal from the advanced posts, employment of the tribal forces for the defence of the tribal country, concentrations of British forces in British territory as the second line of defence and the improvement of the means of transport and communication. This policy continued up to 1919.

By January 1899, about 10,000 British troops had been stationed on the northwest frontier. Lord Curzon gradually withdrew large number of troops from certain areas including the Khyber Pass (except Jamrud) and the Kurram valley (except Thal) and Waziristan but concentrated troops in British lines and also deployed in lieu levies commanded by British officers and retained troops at Chakdara, Malakand and Dargai.

FATA after Independence

1947-1979

The year 1947 marked a turning point in the history of the Tribal Areas, as a new and independent state of Pakistan replaced the British raj. With the termination of British rule, all the agreements and treaties which bound the Tribal Areas with the British government in Delhi were abrogated under the Indian Independence Act 1947.

Constitutionally, the Tribal Areas became independent and it was up to the new state of Pakistan to enter into fresh agreements and treaties with the tribal chiefs. The tribal chiefs (Maliks) were also cognizant of the fact that they would have to enter into new arrangements with Pakistan under terms and conditions that would guarantee the rights and privileges they enjoyed under the British. For this purpose, the new state of Pakistan secured through its political agents in the tribal agencies an agreement with the maliks in 1947. Under this agreement the maliks declared the Tribal Areas a part of Pakistan and pledged to provide any help to the new country whenever the need arose. They also made a commitment "to be peaceful and law abiding and to maintain friendly relations with the people of the settled districts." In return and "on the foregoing conditions the Government of Pakistan pledged to continue the existing benefits." The Government of Pakistan also made a commitment to maintain the existing internal arrangements in the tribal areas. To provide a legal and constitutional cover to these agreements, the Governor General of Pakistan issued a series of orders and notifications. Under these orders and notifications, the Tribal Areas were declared part of Pakistan with effect from 15 August 1947. The Governor-General of Pakistan assumed direct jurisdiction of the tribal Areas.

In a subsequent development, the Government of Pakistan entered into revised agreements with the tribal chiefs in 1951-52 acquiring greater control and authority in the Tribal Areas. These agreements were concluded with the willing cooperation and the goodwill of the tribal people, and were meant to enlarge the scope of the existing agreements.

From 1947 till the formation of One Unit in 1955, the NWFP Governor acted as agent to the Governor-General of Pakistan in relation to the administration of the Tribal Areas, and exercised immediate authority in those areas. His Secretariat, known as the "Local Administration of NWFP", headed by the Chief Secretary, dealt with all matters in respect of the Tribal Areas. All policy directives from the Federal Government were communicated to the Chief Secretary, who furnished the compliance reports to the Federal Government. Since there were no Divisional Commissioners in those days, the Political Agents and the Deputy Commissioners used to correspond directly with the local administration.

On the formation of West Pakistan (One Unit) in 1955, the administration of the Tribal Areas was taken over by the Governor of West Pakistan; and the Federal Government was left only with policy control. Under new set up, the West Pakistan Governor, acted as Agent to the President of Pakistan. These arrangements continued till 1958.

In October 1958, the administrative set up of the Tribal Areas was reviewed; and it was considered imperative that the system of administration on the spot should have centripetal quality. Consequently, administration of all the Tribal Areas was vested in the Resident Commissioner from November 1959 to August 1960, thereafter, these areas continued to be administered directly by the West Pakistan Government. The post of Resident Commissioner, however, was abolished in 1960 as an economy measure, but evidently, the real cause of the change over was the dual control of the Resident Commissioner by the Federal Government and the Provincial Government.

Although the 1956 Constitution was based on the integration of West Pakistan into One Unit, the political parties with their support base in the former provinces, especially Sindh, NWFP and Balochistan did not accept the merger of these provinces into One Unit. They continued to demand the dissolution of One Unit and the revival of the former provinces. National Awami Party (NAP), which was supported by the Pashtun and Baloch nationalists, was in the forefront of the struggle for the revival of the former provinces. The mass movement against Ayub Khan, which forced Pakistan’s first military ruler to step down in 1969, had incorporated the dissolution of One Unit as one of the main items on its agenda. Thus, General Yahya Khan, who took over from General Ayub Khan, accepted the demand for the dissolution of One Unit. On July 1, 1970, One Unit was dissolved and the former provinces of West Pakistan, namely Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Balochistan were revived.

With the dissolution of One Unit, the Tribal Areas of Dir, Swat, Chitral, Malakand Protected Areas, and the Hazara Territory, were included in the NWFP. Similarly, the tribal Areas of Balochistan, namely the Districts of Zhob, Sibi, Loralai and Chagai were made part of Balochistan. The rest of the Tribal Areas, namely the Agencies of Mohmand, Kurram, Khyber, Bajaur, Orakzai, North Waziristan, South Waziristan, and the adjoining areas of Kohat, Peshawar, Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan Districts were declared as Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

1979-1991

Soviet invasion

The decade-long war in Afghanistan had a negative impact on the tribal areas and their infrastructure. With Pakistan becoming the frontline state in the war of resistance against the Soviet forces, the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan virtually ceased to exist. The tribal belt became the main supply route for the Mujahideen fighting the Soviets. The tribal areas provided a base for the Mujahideen, and weapons, supplies, and other war sustenance efforts were routed from these areas.

Large numbers of Afghan refugees arrived in the FATA, placing pressure on the local resources. In some cases, refugees outnumbered the local population. The war also brought a culture of guns and drugs. During this period, the economy of the tribal areas, which was already underdeveloped, suffered enormously.

The local administration, which already exercised only nominal control over the tribal population, was rendered totally ineffective under the impact of the ongoing war in Afghanistan. The result was that all kinds of illegal activity, like smuggling, drug trafficking and gun running, flourished in these areas.

Civil war

With the withdrawal of the Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989, there was a bloody war between the Soviet-installed Afghan regime and the Afghan Mujahideen groups. Because security and peace were lacking in Afghanistan, there was no question of the Afghan refugees returning to their country. The tribal areas, therefore, continued to be the home of millions of Afghan refugees.

Taliban rule in Afghanistan and its influence on the FATA

In 1996, Kabul fell to the student militia known as the Taliban. As a result of nearby Taliban, the writ of the government of Pakistan in the FATA became less effective. Some people of the FATA joined the Taliban in fighting against the Northern Alliance. Movement of men and material across the international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan was unregulated. Several aspects of the FATA's culture have been influenced, and in some cases the traditions of tribal people were affected by the more conservative interpretation of Islam favoured by the Taliban . A large number of people from different regions of Pakistan and the world entered Afghanistan to join what they claimed was jihad against the Northern Alliance.

2007 anti-militancy campaign

On June 4, 2007, the National Security Council of Pakistan met to decide the fate of Waziristan and take up a number of political and administrative decisions to control "Talibanization" of the area. The meeting was chaired by President Pervez Musharraf and it was attended by the Chief Ministers and Governors of all 4 provinces. They discussed the deteriorating law and order situation and the threat posed to state security. To crush the armed militancy in the Tribal regions and the NWFP, the government decided to intensify and reinforce law enforcement and military activity, take action against certain madrassahs, and jam illegal FM radio stations.

Extension of adult franchise to the FATA

Although Pakistan adopted universal adult suffrage as the basis of its electoral process immediately after independence in 1947, the people of FATA, due their autonomous status did not have this right for about fifty years. In the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan (1947-54) FATA were represented by one member; whereas 4 states of the region, namely Swat, Dir, Chitral and Amb had 3 seats in the Assembly in accordance with the formula worked out by the Cabinet Mission Plan (1946). Under 1973 Constitution, the maliks (numbering about 37000) constituted the Electoral College for the election to 8 seats of the National Assembly. Under the legal, political and constitutional reforms package of Musharraf regime, known as Legal Framework Order (LFO) the number of National Assembly Members (MNAs) to be elected from FATA have been increased to 12. In 1996 the federal government of Pakistan decided to introduce adult franchise in the Tribal Areas for the elections held in 1997.

The 1997 elections were the first held in the Tribal Areas on the basis of universal adult suffrage. According to the electoral rolls prepared for the 1997 elections, the total number of registered votes was 1.6 million, including 0.4 million female votes. The extension of adult franchise in FATA was a long-standing demand of the people of Tribal Areas. But the successive governments of Pakistan had been postponing this decision due to their policy of appeasement towards the tribal chiefs (Maliks), who feared the loss of their entrenched privileged positions in the areas in case method of direct elections was introduced.

A large number of candidates contested the 1997 elections and the turn out was considered high. A total of 298 candidates stood for the eight seats of the National Assembly The average turn out was 33.69 per cent. In some areas, like Bajaur Agency, the turn out was 65 per cent; but in South Waziristan, which is the center of Pakistan’s military operations against the suspected foreign militants, the turn out was reported to be as low as 19.64 per cent.

In the last elections held on 10 October 2002, the total number of registered votes was 1,289,274. The number of male registered votes was 814,921; while the number of registered female votes was slightly higher than in the 1997 elections (469,053). The average turn out was 25.48 per cent.

Despite the introduction of adult franchise, the people of the Tribal Areas do not yet enjoy political and legal rights as equal citizens of Pakistan as their transition from autonomous regions into full settled areas with representation with the government has often been slowed down by Local Maliks, who are gradually losing their traditional power. Article 25 of the 1973 Constitution declares that all citizens of Pakistan are equal before law; but this article is not applicable to FATA, although under Article 1 of the Constitution FATA is part of the territories of Pakistan, many in Pakistan and particularly in FATA want this changed. The two elections (1997 and 2002) following the introduction of adult franchise in FATA were held on non-party basis. Despite the persistent demands by the political parties and civil society organizations in the region, the political parties have not been allowed to extend their activities in the Tribal Areas. Under Article 247 of the Constitution, federal government enjoys absolute authority over the Tribal Areas. Under sub-section (7) of the same Article, High Courts and Supreme Court of Pakistan are barred from exercising jurisdiction over FATA. The draconian law known as Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) framed by the British in 1901 to keep the people of Tribal Areas under suppression is still the law of the Tribal Areas. Before 1956, FCR covered the whole of the NWFP; but through an amendment, the settled districts of the province were exempted from FCR. Similarly, FCR was abolished in 1973 in Balochistan. However, the people of FATA are still governed by FCR, which has been denounced by all the political parties as undemocratic, repressive and violation of human rights. With the increasing literacy rate and integration of the FATA with the rest of the country not to mention that many inhabitants of FATA have set up colonies, where 2nd and even 3rd generations can be found (In Panjab, Sindh), the local population is demanding greater representation and integration within the federation.

Economy

There is no banking system, and smuggling of opium and other contraband is routine, according to a July 2007 report in The New York Times.

Foreign aid to the region is a difficult proposition, according to Craig Cohen, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. Because security is difficult, local nongovernmental organizations are required to distribute aid, but NGOs tend not to trust the military and the military tends not to trust the tribal chiefs — who won't cooperate unless they, too, get a cut of the money, he said. Pakistani NGOs are often targets of violent attacks by Islamist militants in the FATA. There is so much hostility to any hint of foreign influence, that the American branch of Save the Children was distributing funding anonymously in the region as of July 2007.

Mining

The FATA contain proved commercially viable reserves of marble, copper, limestone and coal. However, in the current socio-political conditions, there is no chance of their exploitation in a profitable manner.

Industrialization

Industrialization of the FATA is another route or remedy proposed for a rapid breaking up of the tribal barriers and promoting the cause of integration. The process of industrialization through a policy of public / private partnership would not only provide employment opportunities and economic benefits but also assist in bringing the youth of the tribal area at par with those of the developed cities in the rest of the country.

Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs)

The concept of setting up ROZs in FATA and Afghanistan is an element in the United States Government's counter-terrorism and regional economic integration strategies.

Irrigation projects

Water is scarce in the FATA. When the British forces occupied Malakand they started work on the Amandara headworks to divert the water from the Swat River through a tunnel to irrigate the plains of Mardan and Charsadda. The aim was not to get more wheat or sugarcane, but to ‘tame the wild barbarian tribes’.

Education

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas literacy rate is 17.42%, which is below the 43.92% average in Pakistan. 29.51% of the males and only 3% of females receive education.

Health

There is one hospital bed for every 2,179 people in the FATA, compared to one in 1,341 in Pakistan as a whole. There is one doctor for every 7,670 people compared to one doctor per 1,226 people in Pakistan as a whole. 43% of FATA citizens have access to clean drinking water.

Much of the population is suspicious about modern medicine, and some militant groups are openly hostile to vaccinations. In June 2007, a Pakistani doctor was blown up in his car "after trying to counter the anti-vaccine propaganda of an imam in Bajaur", Pakistani officials told the New York Times.

For information about a hospital in Ghalanai, see Mohmand Agency.

See also

References

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