Several perspectives on the FCR and FATA reform


It might be worthwhile to read two differing perspectives on the FCR and the FATA reform in order to come to an informed conclusion on a complicated issue that the government is likely to be dealing with in the near future. The various opinions on reforming governance in FATA can be divided into two broad groups – the first group favours very incremental reform in order to prevent unrest and further disruption of an already extremly fragile situation. Their opinion is in keeping with the policy of the Government of Pakistan since 1948 of agreeing to maintain the existing contract between the tribes of FATA and the British colonial government. The second group believes that the policies of the first group have failed and have contributed directly to the insurgency in FATA and the complete collapse of governance that we see today. In addition this group believes that the system of governance in FATA violates basic human rights and must be drastically reformed as soon as possible.

Below are several articles that represent each of the two perspectives.

Perspective I – incremental reform:

Reforms in FATA, by Mahmood Shah (retired brigadier and former secretary Fata and home-secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)

THERE is a dire need for changes in the system of governance in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) but given a highly conservative society, they cannot be achieved in any radical manner. Read the full article

FATA should not be made a province, by Asad Munir (former head of the ISI and MI for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata):

The FCR as a whole is not a ‘black law’ as propagated by some elements which are clearly not familiar with these regulations. There are, however, some clauses which require amendments.[...]To bring Fata into the mainstream and change its status, a tribal consensus will be required. In all probability, they would never opt for a change in the present system. They are enjoying almost all the facilities of an average Pakistani village. Read the full article

Implications of repealing FCR – by Ismail Khan:

Even if any decision has to be taken, argue these analysts, the tribal people would have to be involved and consulted while introducing any law to govern their way of life. Opinion is divided over the FCR and system of administration in Fata, but most analysts agree that FCR should be retained with some amendments, particularly by making it appealable before a special bench of the High Court.Read the full article

Perspective 2 – more comprehensive reform

Make FATA a province, too – by Ayaz Wazir(former ambassador to Qatar):

The people of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) have suffered for more than a century from the harsh and inhuman laws of the Frontier Crime Regulations (FCR). The British Raj imposed it on the areas to divide the tribes. What the British did to protect their imperial interests in a colony can be understood but what we are doing to our own country defies comprehension. Read the full article

Province for FATA, let the people decide – by Farhat Taj (The writer is currently writing a book, Taliban and Anti-Taliban):

In Fata, there are three opinions in terms of its integration with the rest of the country. The first says that it should be made a separate province, the second that it should merge with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the third that it should stay as it is and that the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) should be purged of their more anti-people provisions. In my view, the eventual route for Fata should be determined by the people of the region themselves without any pressure from outside. We always argue that the Kashmir issue must be resolved according to the wishes of the people of the area. So it would be hypocritical for us to support the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination and deny the same to the people of Fata. Read the full article

International Crisis Group Report – Countering militancy in FATA (October 2009)

On 14 August 2009 President Asif Ali Zardari announced a reform package lifting restrictions on political party activity; curtailing the bureaucracy’s arbitrary powers of arrest and detention; excluding women and minors from collective responsibility under the law; establishing an appellate tribunal; and envisaging audits of funds received and disbursed by the auditor general. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government has described this reform package as the first step towards mainstreaming FATA, and much remains to be done. It must now swiftly implement these measures and, more importantly, take steps to fully incorporate the tribal areas into the federal constitutional framework, with provincial representation, legal protections under the Criminal Procedure Code and the national and provincial courts. Read the full report

Amnesty International Report – The human rights crisis in Northwest Pakistan (June 2010):

The Pakistani government must thoroughly reform or abandon the FCR, allow the areas’ residents to participate without discrimination in the country’s political life, and ensure that the human rights of all the areas’ residents are fully protected. Read the full report

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