Fata and the FCR

Published: July 19, 2010
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The writer is a former ambassador and an expert on the tribal areas (ayaz.wazir@tribune.com.pk)

The writer is a former ambassador and an expert on the tribal areas ([email protected])

The draconian laws of the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) have kept Fata totally isolated from the outside world. It is unfortunate that after independence different governments decided to continue with the laws (if they can be called laws) imposed on us by the colonialist British, instead of scrapping them. The outside world has changed but that has hardly affected Fata. The area is still out of bounds for outsiders.

It is hard to believe that in this modern age where chains of slavery have been broken all over the world, we still have areas in Pakistan where people are denied their basic rights. They are governed under laws which have been declared unconstitutional and un-Islamic by the courts. Why parliament has not challenged these laws is beyond my comprehension.  The political agent of South Waziristan is reported to have demanded that the Wazir tribe immediately eject foreign militants from their areas or else face the consequences under the FCR. What he is demanding of them is something which even the state, with all the resources at its disposal, has been unable to do. I wish he would first secure roads and buildings belonging to the government and then look around for innocent people to punish. It is a known fact that the tribesmen are helpless and cannot eject those who came to the area and live there against their wishes. It is the job of the government to throw them out not that of the local residents.

It was reported on Samaa TV on July 8 that Major General Rizwan Akhtar  said that security personnel have “won the hearts and minds” (a hackneyed phrase used by the Americans in Afghanistan) of the Wazir tribe in South Waziristan. He seems to be unaware of the troubles that the tribesmen face and the resentment generated by restrictions imposed on them on travelling within the agency. They are treated like prisoners, not allowed to travel on roads they had been using for decades whilst civil and military officers travel in helicopters or under special escort and protocol not enjoyed even by the president. If this is what they call winning of hearts and minds then yes they have won everything, including the war on terror. But this is not the case. It will be a long time before the locals forget the burning of their buses on flimsy charges. This is not done even in the most uncivilised of societies. Not in a million years can they win hearts and minds in this way.

The civilian leadership that came into power after the elections of February 2008 should have taken bold decisions in accordance with the wishes of the public but it decided to continue with the dictator’s policies it had inherited, using force to conduct military operations. They live in the bunkered city of Islamabad and when unavoidable they travel in bullet-proof cars with heavy police escorts or in chartered aircrafts. They have not taken the trouble of visiting strife-torn areas to lend moral support to troops engaged in combat operations let alone acquaint themselves with the hell unleashed upon the locals living in those areas.

What has the government done to reverse the situation? Nothing except using brutal force, which is not the remedy. The remedy lies somewhere else. The government needs to shoulder its responsibilities if it is serious in eradicating the menace of militancy from the area. It needs to amend the FCR and extend the Political Parties Act to Fata without further loss of time. This will, in some way, rekindle hope and confidence in the minds of the tribesmen and bridge the wide trust deficit that currently exists.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Jul 20, 2010 - 3:21PM

    ayaz:

    well said

    every citizen should be covered by one set of lawsRecommend

  • Aziz Akhmad
    Jul 20, 2010 - 6:32PM

    Ayaz Wazir is right. The FCR must go — most of it. Among the many promises the prime minister made in his first speech to the National Assembly, abolition of FCR was one of them. FATA, if it is to be treated as part of Pakistan, must have the same laws, same facilities and same opportunities — for education, healthcare and employment. Tribals, essentially, are no different than the rest of us. They, too, love their children. And, yes, political parties should also be allowed to operate in FATA. Currently, the only message they hear is from the pulpit.Recommend

  • JAPAN NA YOU GHAREEB WAZIR
    Jul 21, 2010 - 1:44PM

    Dear and Honrable Ayaz Lala…
    We Waziristanies or Tribal People are like Orphons..We have no one to protact us except Allah and You
    You are our Nelson Mandella ..
    You are our Gandhi jee
    You are our Mother terresa
    You are our Iqbal…
    Thats All…
    Khudai They Jawandai Lara..
    Khudai They noor heemath diarka Da Permakhtag day poora
    They stha Kashar wroor Da Japan naRecommend

  • Nasir
    Jul 21, 2010 - 2:30PM

    Excellent comments by Mr. Wazir
    Each and every Pakistani should have the basic right to live his or her life according to the civilized laws. To win the hearts and minds, unbalanced laws within a country have to be balanced.
    Long Live Pakistan Recommend

  • Sadia Hussain
    Jul 21, 2010 - 2:34PM

    FCR laws are discriminatory, brutal and absurd. The inhabitants of FATA should be treated as equal citizens. Unless we address such issues of basic human rights then we cannot establish long lasting peace. We need to stop this carrot and stick policy with FATA. Recommend

  • Wazira
    Jul 21, 2010 - 9:15PM

    The people of FATA couldn’t have asked for a better person to represent them.

    We are proud of you Ayaz Sahib.
    God bless you, alwaysRecommend

  • Tariq Momand
    Jul 21, 2010 - 9:57PM

    Well Done Mr. Ayaz Wazir!!

    You have rightly pointed towards the problem faced by the people of FATA. FCR is the mother of all evils and must be scrapped and dumped in the Pacific Ocean. We need courageous writers to highlight, like Wazir has done, the plight of the tribesmen.

    I hope the government of the day considers seriously implementation of the suggestion made by Ayaz Wazir Recommend

  • Jul 22, 2010 - 2:52PM

    Well done sir . .

    I totally agreed what u have written in ur article . .

    Ambassador Ayaz Wazir is a true representative of South Waziristan FATA . .

    It is not the responsibility of the people to Recommend

  • WAQAS KHAN MAHSUD
    Jul 22, 2010 - 3:10PM

    Well done sir . .
    I totally agreed with what u have written in ur article . .
    It is the responsibility of the state not the people to eject foreign or local
    Militants from their areas . .
    The draconian law of FCR in FATA should be abolished on urgent basis thats’s
    What the PM has said in his first speech of Parliament . .
    There is no interaction with the local people of tribal areas not any of the
    Senior official from government visited the area including the President
    himself who is the incharge of FATA according to the constitution . .
    He must visit the area with some of his Ministers and announce an economic
    Package for the tribal people who have lost everything in 8 years of war . .
    If he wants to win the hearts and minds of tribal people . . . !Recommend

  • Ihsan Tipu Mehsud
    Jul 23, 2010 - 11:11AM

    Wonderful piece exposing the British imposed draconian law of FCR. Ironically, in past 62 years we the tribesmen have been kept aside from mainstream. While, the past seven years have proved hideous nightmare for us, seeing nothing but death and destruction. I think the time has come for our establishment to learn from its past blunders vis-à-vis FATA and pave way for socio-economic uplift of the area. It would certainly be in prime interest of Pakistan if it includes people from FATA in its decision making process. We are part and parcel of this country and wanna play our due role in nation’s building. The present government is receiving huge bulk of money from international donors in the name of FATA but failed to spend it on its development. Recommend

  • Saleem Afridi
    Jul 23, 2010 - 5:07PM

    Well said Mr. Wazir.

    This is the voice of the people of FATA. The President and Prim Minister oth have said it repeatedly (like others in the past) that FATA will be brought at par with the rest of the country. When are they going to do that? When will the people of FATA have the same rights as enjoyed by others in the country.Are they going to live for ever under FCR?Recommend

  • Umer Orakzai
    Jul 23, 2010 - 8:17PM

    FATA has long been deprived of almost every basic human right.
    We have suffered in silence for too long. Im proud to have such an honest and courageous person like Mr. Wazir to have highlighted our problems but it is now time for each and everyone one of us to do the same. The people of FATA have to unite, if not now, then when?Recommend

  • Jul 23, 2010 - 8:39PM

    I agree on many counts with Ayaz Wazir being a dweller from FATA.It is ironic that FATA has been used for all the good of the security of Pakistan, but abused for all the wrongs in rest of Pakistan. The abuses are many but major being the FCR ,a draconian law of the British era still being applied with much force and duress. It is strange that the so called representative of FATA in the parliament can vote and pass 18th amendment for the whole of Pakistan ,but can not do any legislation for the people of FATA.

    FATA has been used in the Cold War and has been instrumental in the demise of SOVIET UNION, but left to its fate in the lurking. It is again at the central stage at the world forum from the last seven years, but receiving nothing more from the Emperor than the drones and destruction. The people of FATA never deserve even a single shambolic visit of the president of Pakistan, be it a dictator or democrat to sympathize on their dead in lateral and collateral damages, Or console with the IDPs.After all president is the so –called god-father of FATA, so is the callous attitude. I have seen the grim and grave image in the eyes of the people and specially the youth of FATA.Let that image should not become the prism to emanate the colour of blood, just because of the neglect on the part of the few who are privileged to decide. It is the time to attend to their woes and legislate for a system to be at par with a province.Recommend

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