Stories about FATA

FATA? Is that where tribesmen are cannibals and women are slaves?

Over the years, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan (FATA) have been a hot topic of discussion, but for all the wrong reasons.   We, the tribal people, have been termed as ‘wild’ and are somehow depicted as sub-human. Our women are often at the receiving end of pity because they are believed to be subjected and persecuted. Where to start and where to begin here? Through this post, I would like to introduce you to the Fata I have spent my entire life in by busting some popular myths about this region. Myth 1: In Fata,women are to remain illiterate and house-bound Please do ...

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Standing up against militants of K-P: How my father died for Pakistan

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are in state of war. Everyone here, including the politicians, are bearing the brunt of state policies, in the makings of which they share no role. Amongst this lot of politicians was my father Muhammad Ali Khan Mohmand shaheed. A member of the provincial assembly (MPA) from Shabqadar, Charsadda, he was well known to K-P and Fata. However, few in Pakistan know of his heroic story. Muhammad Ali Khan Mohmand became an MPA from Shabqadar in 2008 on a Pakistan People’s Party-Sherpao (now Qaumi Watan Party) ticket. The victory delighted all ...

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Pakhtun women: Does WANA stand for ‘Women Are Not Allowed’?

Ayesha Gulalai Wazir is the youngest parliamentarian elected for the National Assembly on the reserved women’s seats on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s ticket. She belongs to the Wana subdivision of South Waziristan’s Ahmad Zai Wazir tribe. The Taliban commander, Naik Muhammad Wazir, also belonged to the same tribe known for having signed peace agreements with the government of Pakistan. Naik was killed in one of the first drone strikes to hit Pakistan. This was followed by deaths of other commanders, who were willing to sign similar peace agreements, such as Mulla Nazir or Waliur Rehman. A story was published about Ayesha Gulalai ...

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Drone strikes: For better or for worse?

Drones are effective; they kill the most-wanted militants, reduce operational costs, minimise collateral damage and President Obama calls them “legal”. So where is the problem? Why are they so widely condemned? Recently, a drone attack killed another militant, Waliur Rehman, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). He was supposedly the number two of the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) – the only organisation that Pakistan considers inimical to its interests. The TTP is a publicly stated enemy of Pakistan as it has mostly claimed ownership of suicide bombings and IED attacks which keep killing innocent Pakistanis. Waliur Rehman’s elimination, on the face of it, means Pakistan ...

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Will Imran Khan end corruption in K-P in 90 days?

With the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government formed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), a lot is expected from the political party. Successfully governing such a challenging region would be nothing less than a miracle! Directly or indirectly, the political administration of K-P also involves the critical management of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) affairs. The PTI’s electoral victory in the region shows the unparalleled confidence the people of the province have in them, but by spreading hype of fulfilling high expectations, the party is in for an uphill task. The PTI team needs to first understand and rationalise the existing problems and then formulate and implement feasible solutions ...

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Do you know about the people of Tirah valley?

Have you ever heard of the valley of Tirah? This is not some valley in distant country in a faraway continent; it is located in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), in the northwest of Pakistan. Recently, Tirah has fallen into the hands of the Taliban after a fierce couple of months of fighting. The main battle for control of Tirah was between the Ansarul Islam (AI) and the Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) backed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The news of this fight has been covered extensively by some of the leading daily newspapers of Pakistan, but unfortunately, the mainstream news channels of Pakistan have completely ...

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Badam Zari: The first Pakistani tribal woman to stand for elections

The much-vaunted democratic transition has taken place in Pakistan. Caretaker set-ups have settled in the centre and the provinces are to hold free and fair elections.  Similarly, candidates have also swung into motion, filing nomination papers, appearing before the Election Commission staff for pre-poll scrutiny and, most important of all, arranging funds for the election campaign. However, one event stands apart, amidst the din and uproar, of the initial phase of the election campaign: A female candidate has filed nomination papers to stand for NA-44 constituency, falling in Bajaur Agency. Badam Zari has made history by daring to move out of the confines of ...

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In memory of Malik Mumtaz Khan

I met Malik Mumtaz Khan, a tribal journalist from North Waziristan back in 2011 in Bannu. At the time, I was conducting a safety and security training for tribal journalists, arranged by the Intermedia, Pakistan. Malik came across as very cooperative and friendly, though not very talkative. He kept rather quiet during most of the workshop, except when it was necessary to say something. Like many things in life, Malik landed at my training session by chance – he tagged along with a few other journalists. Hence, it struck a particular chord, when on Wednesday blaring headlines announced 48-year-old Malik Mumtaz’s death ...

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Why I believe the jirga system should stay

We, as people, are very quick to jump to conclusions, form opinions, and criticise what we hear and see in the news. It may be something as trivial as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) holding talks with Tahirul Qadri, or the supposedly fake video that went viral showing the Taliban handing down 50 lashes to a girl in Swat who was found to be in violation of the Shariah law by the Taliban jirga. Very recently when a jirga in Balochistan declared 13 girls vani to settle a tribal feud, soon after television and social media were inundated with extreme views, some slammed the jirga system as ‘barbaric’, ‘medieval’ and an ...

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A woman in FATA must not speak

It was Ramazan and my best friend, Qaiser and I were passing though the main bazaar of the Kurram Agency discussing who the opener for the Pakistani cricket team should be. Just then, a fully covered tribal lady stopped and began to argue with a van driver who was wearing a dirty white cap. The argument was so loud that it became difficult for us to just mind our own business and walk away. Within no time a flood of people gathered around to see what all the commotion was about. According to the lady, the van driver was following her around ...

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