Facts about Pakistan’s federally administered tribal areas (FATA)

The Pashtuns are Pakistan’s largest ethnic minority. They speak Pashto and live according to Pashtunwali. A social code that values honor hospitality and revenge. Twenty percent of Pashtuns live in Pakistan’s federally administered tribal areas a strategic area on the border with Afghanistan known as Fata. Until this year, Fata was left outside of the Pakistani constitution and was governed by tribal laws.

In May Fata was merged into Pakistan and its residents became full citizens called the most dangerous place in the world by us and a lawless land by Pakistanis. Fata has been the target of many army operations to rid it of violent elements to understand. Why Pakistan is paying attention to Fata? Now let’s look at the region’s history and its geostrategic importance the mistreatment of tribal.

Pashtuns go back to the 19th century from British India onwards tribal. Pashtuns have been isolated from and dehumanized in mainstream society. Fatah was called the excluded areas and was cut off from the rest of British India on the one hand state law did not apply to the region on the other they were subject to a harsh set of special laws since 1876. These laws denied the tribe’s legal rights and imposed collective punishment this was all enforced by British appointed political agents with absolute power who paid off tribal elders to control them.

A supreme court justice from Pakistan described the true purpose of these laws the legal system imposed by the British was intended to rule the masses through a class of loyal from the area thus ostensibly depicting a policy of non-interference in their centuries-old system. Although in fact, the object was to keep them away from a universally recognized judicial system and instead give them a sugar-coated legal device and these laws stayed in place after the British left. 

During the partition of 1947, Pakistan and India became separate countries and this region became known as Fata. Pakistan spent most of its time and resources towards the Indian border and did not pay that much attention to the tribal areas as a result Fatah became the least developed area in Pakistan. It has a literacy rate of 33 percent and 60 percent of the population lives below the poverty line the existence of the tribal belt on the margins of Pakistan meant that the region was vulnerable to infiltration by smugglers and fighters. 

It wasn’t until the 1970s when Fatah’s unique location and legal status began to be exploited by external powers the 1979 soviet invasion of Afghanistan shone a spotlight on Fatah the US fearing Soviet expansion partnered with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to fund the Mujahideen fighters. Who would be used to push back the Soviets the Mujahideen began recruiting and training fighters in the tribal areas.

Although they defeated the Soviets. There were unintended consequences recently we have obtained hard evidence of the Pakistani militia’s involvement alongside the Taliban. They have committed serious incursions inside the Afghan territory and they have enabled the Taliban to move towards the capital the different factions began fighting for power in Afghanistan one of these factions was the Taliban backed by Pakistan while FATA was an asset during the Afghan war.

It would soon become a liability with the rise of Anti-Americanism our war on terror begins with al Qaeda but it does not end there it will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found stopped and defeated. Conditions worsened when the US launched the so-called war on terror and invaded Afghanistan in 2001 driving. The Taliban out to take refuge in Fata under US pressure.

Pakistan publicly abandoned support for the Taliban and allowed US forces into the tribal areas. However, the Taliban took advantage of Fata’s unregulated status and established safe havens along the border a prolonged period of conflict in Fatah began with fighting between the Pakistani military US forces and fighters loyal to various groups raging on. 

Meanwhile, the tribes were trapped in the fighting more than one thousand tribal elders were killed deteriorating the traditional tribal structure thousands of Pashtuns disappeared without a trace the conflict also displaced more than a million tribespeople and destroyed hundreds of local houses schools and businesses

Throughout, Pakistan viewed and justified the violence as a Pashtun problem but this view hides the true drivers behind the issue of the tribal. Pashtuns haven’t had any political influence access to media outlets or self-determination from the time. They were under the British era laws even when the Pakistani president made reforms in 2011 to protect the elderly and the youth the military reversed these changes security forces gave themselves the power to arrest any tribal Pashtun on the basis of suspicion or complaint do you believe that civil liberties in this country are being eroded in your hunt for the Taliban. I mean you have to go after a monster. 

Lawyers activists journalists and scholars demanded that parliament make reforms in Fatah but their calls were ignored until this year it was extraordinary when thousands of questions were organized to protest decades of killings disappearances and mistreatment by the state the peaceful grassroots protests were led by the new and young Pashtun protection movement which captures the demands and feelings of tribal Pashtuns to settle the unrest and to control the border. 

Pakistan merged Fata into the neighboring province though integration was a crucial step plenty of work remains to be done the tribesmen will have to think about their system about their self-rule about their legal system and about their share and participation in the men’s team will these steps improve life in FATA only if peace is restored first.

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