Stories about FATA

Mythbusting Peshawar: No longer a hotbed of drugs, AK-47s and terrorism

I recently had the honour of visiting the city of Peshawar in Pakistan, travelling through the panoramic mountains linked to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) border pathways which lead to Afghanistan. This was my first visit to the city and I must confess, I had various pre-conceived perceptions about the city and region. These preconceptions were largely fed by the British Foreign Office, which for many years had advised British citizens to be extremely cautious when visiting this region. There are various myths pertaining to Peshawar. Most people believe it to be a hotbed for terrorists and thus extremely unsafe to travel. This is ...

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Why 2018 will go down as an unforgettable year in Pakistan’s democratic history

This year can rightfully be termed the year of change for Pakistan. After all, the General Elections held this year saw the rise of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) into the power corridors. While the political temperature in Pakistan remains high despite the cold weather of December, the following are glimpses of the main political events that had an impact on Pakistan’s political dispensation this year.  January: US President Donald Trump lashed out at Pakistan in a tweet and withheld aid worth millions of dollars. February: Renowned human rights lawyer and activist Asma Jahangir passed away. March: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders Nihal Hashmi, Talal ...

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Apart from its economic policies, PTI’s manifesto reeks of banality

With elections around the corner, every party is looking to up the ante with rhetoric and political noise. It’s raining slogans and promises, not to mention accusations as well. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) seems like the only party with any traction at the moment, and I am shockingly surprised to see PTI as the only party making waves as far as election campaigning is concerned. Taking the opportunity to see what they were promising this year, I went through their manifesto ­– being professionally involved in both editorials and political writing for quite some time, it was more curiosity than anything ...

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Ali Begum: A symbol of grit and perseverance making history in a no woman’s land

While there is no denying the fact that the expertise and contributions of men and women alike are sine qua non (essential) for the establishment of a prosperous and progressive society, it is also a grim and acrimonious reality that women in the tribal areas of Pakistan are excluded from the decision-making and nation-building processes. This callous attitude towards women is leading us nowhere. Notwithstanding our patriarchal and ultra-conservative society where gender discrimination and a misogynistic mindset still prevail, there is a valiant and indomitable woman who is defying the stereotypes of a male-dominated tribal society. Ali Begum, a woman who not ...

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PTI’s 100-day agenda: No change without exchange

On May 20th, Imran Khan and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) brethren took to the stage in Islamabad to reveal a wide-ranging legislative agenda that the party hopes to focus on, if it is elected into office in the upcoming general elections over the summer. The agenda included ambitious agricultural and developmental reform, as well as plans for the bifurcation of the Punjab province, with detailed plans for the incorporation of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) into Pakistan’s legal jurisdiction. The conference ended with a few words from Pervaiz Khattak, perhaps the conference’s most important: “The media must not take this to ...

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The run for allegiance: Electables and political parties – a marriage of convenience

With only a few months to the next general elections, politicians are fast jumping ships to maximise their chances of getting re-elected. These career politicians, or “electables”, are the evergreen lot who choose to associate with the political party likeliest to win, as opposed to aligning with a certain ideology. If their allegiances are so fickle, and if they jump ship at the slightest hint of turbulence, why do political parties accept these mercurial characters in their folds? The answer lies in the dynamics of electoral politics. In order to win, any candidate relies on the sum of their personal ...

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Waging a war against the Taliban and then calling for peace talks – the US doesn’t know what it wants

A Pakistani foreign official (FO) recently disclosed that the US administration was secretly pushing Pakistan to bring the Haqqani network to the dialogue table. This revelation was shocking as the Donald Trump administration, following the footsteps of its predecessors, has constantly asked Islamabad to crack down against the anti-US and Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network allegedly operating out of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The FO official also revealed how there were no specific demands made by the Trump administration other than facilitating Washington on the reconciliation process with the Haqqanis. Such developments are coming at a critical juncture, with Afghanistan losing ground ...

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70 years of independence for Pakistan while FATA continues to be haunted by its colonial past

The government of Pakistan has finally decided to replace the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) with the Riwaj Act – a newly promulgated piece of legislation that will put an end to the century-old status quo in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA). This is a very bold and highly commendable move by the government of Pakistan, which will surely go a long way in bringing FATA at par with the rest of the country. Before highlighting the significance of this landmark decision, which will hopefully introduce much-needed reforms in FATA, let me present a historical snapshot regarding FCR to offer a clearer picture of ...

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Did Senator John McCain visit Pakistan to do some necessary damage control post the Modi-Trump meeting?

The American Republican Senator, John McCain, visited Pakistan with a bi-partisan delegation this week. It was conducted against the backdrop of a much talked about meeting between the American President, Donald Trump, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Senator McCain met the top civilian and military brass and parted on a note of positivity – Pakistan was an important ally, how Pakistan was imperative for stabilisation in the region, how the US was neutral as far as the Kashmir policy was concerned and so on and so forth. The trip itself was lumped together with a July 4th visit to the American troops stationed in Afghanistan. As useless and futile ...

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Will Operation Raddul Fasaad be effective?

February 17, 2017: Within hours of the Sehwan attack, terrorist hideouts are magically discovered all over the country and over a hundred “militants” are killed across Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the tribal belt. Yet another military operation, by the name of “Raddul Fasaad” (“elimination of discord/violence/mischief”) is announced. I don’t know about you but I’ll tell you what I’m feeling; it’s called deja vu, the feeling that this has all happened before. And that might just be because it has. Flashback to June 15, 2014: Following the attack on Jinnah International Airport, the military launched Operation “Zarb-e-Azb” (“cutting strike”). This operation targeted militant hideouts in North Waziristan and along the Afghan border. Within a week, ...

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