The ultimate FATA and PATA policy

Guest Blog by Insocuient

pakistan-FATA-area-federally-administered-tribal-areaMuch has been already written criticizing the performance of the government in FATA areas as Pakistan fights as the ‘major non-NATO ally’ of the U.S. in this so-called ‘war on terror’. Discussions have largely been focused on the growing resentment against collateral damage and the increasing extremism that is now engulfing other major cities in the country elsewhere. While one section of the society has been vocal against Talebanization condemning all the peace deals, the other segment is criticizing the policy of drones and for toeing the line of Washington by waging a war against ‘own people’. Very few have come up with a comprehensive solution to the problem that is now a direct threat to the viability of the state. The world is pointing fingers, and our adversaries are pushing to isolate us further. State of denial is not an option and the status quo is not working. It is imperative that we come with our own policy with a consensus and address the problem with an approach that is state-centric even if we have to make a few sacrifices abroad. Framing the policy

It has been 7 years now since Pakistan jumped on the U.S. bandwagon but no serious effort has been made to chalk out a popular transparent policy. The 3 D’s of Gillani is a nebulously farce notion. A lackadaisical effort was made last year when a resolution was passed by consensus in a joint in-camera session of the Parliament. Even though the Parliamentarians got sensitive briefing from the agencies, the resolution that came out of the Assembly hall was vague to say the least. Everybody enjoyed the privilege of their own interpretation which they exercised. Owais Ghani, the NWFP governor, recently revealed in a Private television interview, “the government has a FATA policy on paper but it is not a public document”. One wonders, what is the rationale behind keeping the population aloof from the policies of the government especially about those issues on which their survival is at stake. How do we know which think-tank was consulted for this policy? How much input from the intelligentsia was included in it? The Obama’s AfPak policy, even if it is largely criticized in the local sections, is something that clearly defines the goals and the means through which they will be pursued. We know the people like Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst, who supervised the policy formulation.

So there is a dire need of going back to the drawing boards. The intelligentsia should be invited from across the board irrespective of their affiliations with the political parties and they will help to formulate a draft which should be presented in the Parliament.

The American connection

Tying our gains in the FATA with the success of U.S. in Afghanistan will not work. Afghanistan is already becoming another Vietnam but Pakistan should not become another Cambodia. Talebans are proving Vietcong for the Americans right now. If history is any teacher, then Pakistan should act fast and independently, and also it should be seem to act independently. While there are similarities in fights on both sides of the borders, there are disparities as well which need to be highlighted. The fight in Afghanistan has a colour of national resistance in it. The Talebans who had been the previous rulers, have been kept away from the political process since after the Bonn conference 2002. The incumbent Karzai government in Afghainstan is not a representative one. With 40% population, the Pashtuns are the largest ethnicity in Afghanistan, yet by large they are not represented in the current government. Americans are not here to stay but we have nowhere else to go. Pakistan has immensely suffered in this ‘War on terror’ due to the anarchist elements which are fighting against the state, be it the talebans crossing the border or the indigenous elements fanning the sectarian conflict. There is another element as well, and that is the disillusioned local population who has sympathies with the militants. The reasons are historical deprivation. Few are siding with the militants as they consider them the only ‘armies of God’ fighting against the ‘Great Satan’ (U.S.). Morgenthau, the famous realist theorist, had once said, “People do not fight because they have arms. They have arms because they deem it necessary to fight.” It is important that the state should go down to the nitty-gritty without honking them all with the same stick of ‘Talebans’.

Sharia or no Sharia

The problem of Swat should be dealt in a separate paradigm keeping in view its historical separate legal position vis-a-vis the rest of the country. The claims of a ‘parallel judiciary’ being established as a direct result of the Nizam-e-Adl (which is still yet to be signed by Zardari) are unfounded. The parallel system has been present in Swat since 1975 when PATA civil and PATA criminal regulations were promulgated. These regulations combined judicial and executive powers in Deputy Commissioners and Commissioners, which was a direct negation of ‘Judiciary shall be separated from the executive’ clause. The residents had been fighting against the regulations in the courts and were finally able to get the verdict in their favour in a Supreme Court ruling in 1995 which declared the regulations null and void. But the damage had been done, the people were nostalgic about the swif justice in the Wali led Swat – although it was based more on tribal customs than the Islamic principles – and they found a new voice in the form of Sufi Muhammad. The present colour of brutal militancy of Fazlu-ullah is just another colour of the ailment. The Nifaz-e-Adl should be given a chance but certainly not at the stake of the writ of the government. With Qazi courts established and the relative peaceful situation there, the government should establish its writ by building the institutions and increasing the public spending on various welfare projects which is also the demand of the locals. A huge rally of thousands turned out in Swat today in the favour of the Peace agreement amidst the speculations that the government might be moving in to cancel the agreement after the flogging incident. In 1999, Nigeria had developed somewhat similar situation in Swat. In 25 out of its 36 provinces, the Sharia was implemented, and with the passage of time the radical elements lost appeal among the masses. The recent result of moderates in the Nigerian elections proves the point in this regard.

Setting our own house in order

The operation against militants in FATA and PATA areas should only be conducted with the Frontier Corps (FC). For this to be realized, the FC should be trained on the modern lines of anti-insurgency with handsome pay-packages. This will surely take some time but the dividends that it will bear will be plenty in the long run. The government can only persuade the locals not to host foreigners when it itself is seemed to be not toeing the U.S. line blindly when it comes to the tribal areas. For the radicals (most of those are misled by the religious clerics) who are caught, the emphasis should be made on making them useful in various de-radicalization programs instead of just discarding them to Bagram or some other foreign detention centers. Indonesia is a pertinent example here. After the Bali bombings of 2005, which were conducted by a radical organization named Jemiyah Islamiyah, many influential figures of the banned organization were caught but they were not sold to any foreign country. Instead, the Indonesians hit them back by recruiting them in various de-radicalizing programs in Jails. The young zealous Indonesians, who were earlier misled by the fiery literature and propaganda of Jemiyah Islamiah, were again brought back to their senses by the very same tool. Jemiyah Islamiah is now a dysfunctional and a nearly dead organization in Indonesia, and this much achieved after only 3 years.

There are more than 10,000 Madrassahs in the country presently. Musharraf started a Madrassah Reform Plan (MRP) which was aimed at registering all the Madrassahs and at bringing their syllabi under the eye of the Federal government. The plan has only been applied to 500 Madrassahs so far, and many religious seminaries in Southern Punjab are working outside its periphery. ISI has also been blamed on various accounts with its links with the Haqqani network and his Madrassahs.

U.S. and world aid is expected to start coming in shortly. The first thing to do is to ensure accountability and transparency in the whole process. The U.S. chamber of commerce claimed that out of $10 billion dollars given to Musharraf there is no accountability of the $5 billion. The government should announce all the sponsored projects not only to the donors but also to the public at large through the mass media. The progress in these projects should actively be gauged on the lines of the U.S stimulus plan. A commission should be formed which will head the disbursement of funds in the respective areas. For this it is imperative that the local people should be the stake holders in the entire process. Once this process starts it should be backed by the political and constitutional integration of such areas with the rest of the country.

The road to a peaceful progressive future may be long but it certainly will be defined by the steps that we take today



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