Overview on Pakistan’s FATA

A short, readable report on the constitutional status of FATA, and the injustice of subjecting the Pashtuns to the executive power of a single political agent (PA). Also goes into a little detail on the colonial legacy of the law, embodied in the Frontier Crimes Regulation of 1901.

Foreign Policy report here

The PA can also refer cases to tribal jirgas (council of elders), presided by maliks (male elders), who receive financial privileges in return for helping maintain social peace and suppress crime. Jirgas enforce customary law, which is often selective and discriminatory, particularly against women. Their decisions can be appealed to the PA but, again, not to any court of law.

As militancy spread in the region, insurgents murdered hundreds of maliks, attacked or took over jirgas, and intimidated political agents and their assistants. In a few moves, FATA’s governance was dismantled. Internationally-funded efforts now to win over FATA residents to the side of the government by bolstering the PA’s position, and reinforcing jirgas, are bound to fail, since these unaccountable institutions have themselves bred much public resentment towards the state. Nor are any major development projects likely to be sustained given the absence of regular laws, economic regulations, and the courts to enforce them.  Despite ample natural resources, therefore, FATA will almost certainly remain exceptionally underdeveloped and poor, providing just the breeding ground and space to operate that militant groups need.

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