Monday, September 29, 2008

Pakistan's FATA Face Off Fears

"I've been to Waziristan. I can see how tough that terrain is. It's ruled by a handful of tribes", said Senator John S. McCain in a recent presidential debate referring to Waziristan "agency" in Pakistan's FATA region.

Often described in the world media as "lawless" and "a terrorists sanctuary", Pakistan's FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Area) region, particularly Waziristan, has been the topic of news, discussions and presidential debates in the United State this year. There are reports that President Bush has authorized US special ops covert strikes inside FATA. US presidential candidate Barack Obama has openly advocated US ground troops incursions and air strikes in FATA. While many Americans, including several prominent politicians and candidates for high offices, have heard about FATA, their knowledge appears to be very sketchy and completely inadequate for making potentially dangerous policy toward Pakistan. Even the "experts" and Washington think tanks do not fully understand or appreciate the consequences of FATA incursions by the US military. So what is FATA? What is its history? Who lives there? How is it governed or not governed? Can it turn into another Vietnam for the US troops? Let's try and discuss answers to these important questions.

What is FATA?

FATA is Pakistan's federally administrated tribal area. It is bordered by Afghanistan to the west with the border marked by the Durand Line, the North-West Frontier Province and the Punjab to the east, and Balochistan to the south. It is considered Pakistan's "wild west" where the inhabitants have always loved their guns and their freedom. The region, with its gun-loving culture, fierce independence and religious zealotry, was instrumental in Afghan Mujahedeen's successful resistance against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, and the region contributed to the defeat and eventual fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. It became home to millions of Afghan refugees in the 1980s, many of whom grew up there. The region's seminaries (also called madrassahs) are believed to have given birth to the Taliban (literally meaning "students") who ruled Afghanistan until the US invasion of 2001.

The total population of the FATA is estimated at 3m Pashto-speaking people (Pashtoons or Pathans), or roughly 2% of Pakistan's population. The people of the region share common language, culture and tribal traditions with their kin across the border in Afghanistan. Region's inhabitants' tribal ties are stronger than their national identities. In many cases, the Pakistan-Afghan border (called the Durand line, drawn by the British colonial officials) divides the tribes between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Only 3.1% of the population resides in established townships. It is the most rural administrative unit in Pakistan.

FATA consists of seven "agencies", each nominally managed by Pakistan government's "political agents". The agencies are named Khyber, Kurram, Bajaur, Mohmand, Orakzai, North and South areas of Waziristan and six FRs (Frontier Regions) namely FR Peshawar, FR Kohat, FR Tank, FR Banuu, FR Lakki and FR Dera Ismail Khan. The main towns include Miranshah, Razmak, Bajaur, Darra Bazzar, Ghalanai as Head Quareters of Mohmand Agency and Wana .

FATA Governance Model:

FATA is constitutionally part of Pakistan, but the Pakistani constitution says that the country's laws do not apply there- unless the president of Pakistan specifically decrees otherwise in certain circumstances. The tribes rule by the age-old jirga system that makes rules and dispenses justice. This governance model was developed by the British colonial government based on treaties with the Pushtoon tribes, and continued unchanged after Pakistan's independence. It relies on Political Agents (PAs), appointed by the governor of NWFP (North West Frontier Province) on behalf of Pakistan's president. The PAs are the highest officials of the state of Pakistan in tribal agencies. They do not directly rule or administer, but they work with the tribal chiefs (maliks) using carrots and sticks to influence the tribes' behavior. The PAs provide money, infrastructure support and other incentives to the maliks in exchange for cooperation. When such cooperation is not forthcoming, the PAs withhold funds, levy fines and, in rare circumstances, threaten the use of military force to bring them in line. The bottom line is that the system relies on the PAs cooperation with the maliks. Without it, the governance model falls apart. After repeatedly trying and failing to establish control, this system was codified by the British in Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) in 1901 and remains in force today. Like the colonial Britsh rulers of the past, no government in Pakistan has managed to take full control of FATA since the country's independence in 1947.

The American "Jihad" and FATA governance:

After the Soviet invasion in late 1970s and occupation of Afghanistan in 1980s, the US got heavily involved in Afghanistan and threw its support behind the Pashtoons resisting the Russian invaders. In fact, President Ronald Reagan invited some of the current Taliban leaders back in the 1980s to the White House and hailed them as "moral equivalents of America's founding fathers". Saudi Arabia also joined the efforts to evict the Russians from Afghanistan. According to Maximilian Forte, the Taliban expert Ahmad Rashid points out that the core and founding leadership of the current Taliban movement did indeed form part of the anti-Soviet mujahidin struggle.

In particular, the following Taliban names need special mention:

* Mullah Omar
* Mullah Mohammed Hassan Rehmani, the former Taliban Governor of Kandahar, “a founder member of the Taliban…considered to be number two in the movement to his old friend Mullah Omar”
* Mohammed Ghaus, former Foreign Minister of the Taliban
* Nuruddin Turabi, former Justice Minister
* Abdul Majid, former Mayor of Kabul
* and Jalaluddin Haqqani, much in the news lately.

That is only a partial list of the Taliban leadership which, with the exception of the last entry, was provided by Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist, author and an authority on the Taliban.

The joint American-Pakistani-Saudi inspired "Jihad" against the Soviet Union fundamentally altered the power structure and governance in FATA. During this period, two new groups emerged to subvert the the traditional model: Military commanders and Mullahs. The military commanders who led the fight against the Soviets became increasingly powerful and influential because of their leadership abilities and competence as fighters and organizers. The mullahs, who were marginalized and ridiculed before the "Jihad", rose in status and influence because of the religious inspiration they provided for "Jihad". The power of the commanders and the mullahs was also bolstered by the large amount of funding from US, Saudi and Pakistani sources that they received and controlled in this period. The PAs and the maliks are no longer unchallenged as the de facto power brokers in FATA. The power is now more diffused.

Historically, the army only entered FATA at the invitation of the tribal leaders. More recently, however, the traditional tribal power structure has suffered powerful blows as the Pakistani military forcibly entered the tribal areas upon the urging of the Americans. These operations by Pakistani military have had very limited success at the cost of more than two thousand Pakistani soldiers' lives. The FATA tribesmen, familiar with the difficult terrain (rough and barren jagged hills, deep valleys, thousands of caves and mazes of tunnels) and having been well trained and equipped by the US and Pakistani special ops in the 1980s, have demonstrated their upper hand repeatedly in many encounters with Pakistani and US military along the Pakistan-Afghan border. According to various investigators and the press, most of the "militant" casualties claimed by US and Pakistani militaries have turned out to be non-combatants, often women and children, further fueling the anger and resentment of the locals.

US and Pakistani Options:

Clearly, the situation in FATA and Afghanistan must be dealt with to stop the Talibanization of the entire region with all its terrible consequences for the world. But the available options are not good. The use of raw, naked military power will not work. Turning this into a war between the US and Pakistan will only help Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Though long-term and difficult, the only viable and durable option for US and Pakistan is to try and restore the traditional role of the PAs and the maliks by strengthening their power and authority over their respective regions. This option will require a combination of lots of carrots and a few big sticks, with tremendous patience to achieve a lasting solution to one of the most difficult problems in the world. The FATA problems have developed in over two decades as unintended consequence of US-Pak-Saudi intervention in the Afghan "Jihad" of the 1980s. Quick and dirty solutions relying on powerful military force alone will quickly make the situation a lot worse than it is now.

Full-Scale US-Pakistan War:

Initially brief missions by US commandos in FATA will turn into a full-scale US invasion and war with Pakistan, leading to the US getting bogged down in a situation worse than Vietnam. Although it is a remote possibility, resort to tactical nuclear weapons by either Pakistan or the US or both sides can not be completely ruled out if the war gets very protracted and frustrating for all parties involved. Indian or Chinese intervention is also possible, even probable, if a large number of refugees start to pour out of Afghanistan and Pakistan into India and China. The law of unintended consequences will prevail, unless we learn from our past mistakes.

Plea for Sanity:

With Pakistani and US media scrutinizing every US incursion into Pakistani territory, this dangerous game can easily unleash pent-up anger on both sides. For the sake of world peace and security in South Asia, I hope and pray that sanity will prevail in Washington and Islamabad before the US goes too far with its limited, covert commando raids into FATA.

Related Links:

Origins of the Taliban

Violence, Governance and Islam in Pakistan by Jochen Hippler

Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan

McCain-Obama Debate Pakistan Policy

Radicals Target FATA Tribal Elders


Colin said...

This is excellent -- highly informative. Thank you.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting report in Pak Observer about ISI Chief's confrontation with CIA chief in Pakistan:

After my four hour long informal interaction with Admiral Mike Mullen, the most powerful man in uniform and Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, the multi-barrel gun directed at Afghanistan and Pakistan, at the residence of US Ambassador on the rainy evening of April 6, 2009, I had in my comments mentioned that now the ISI was the immediate target of the US Establishment. This was no “breaking news” at all as every one who keeps an eye on the ongoing war on terror knew well that US was hell-bent on (i) getting the Pakistan Army sucked in the domestic turmoil in Swat, FATA and beyond Waziristan, and (ii) reining in what the US calls “rogue elements” in the ISI.

There are confirmed reports that to achieve its objectives the CIA hired the services of at least a dozen Afghan warlords inside Afghanistan and provided through them arms and finances to militants in FATA and Swat to carry out murders and devastations in the country. It was like a double-edged sword not only to get the Army launch attacks against Taliban on Pakistani side of the border but also to give a message to the ISI that the CIA can use the Pakistani Taliban against their own security forces. It was in this background that after a long, long tolerance the prime intelligence agency of the country ultimately confronted the CIA Director Leon E. Panetta with some highly classified and irrefutable evidence. Panetta was startled when DG, ISI General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, a no-nonsense General, placed the facts before him in Islamabad on November 20, 2009. The “deliberate leaks” after the meeting of the spy chiefs of the two countries, spoke of the mind of the ISI and the armed forces of Pakistan. General Pasha had earlier conveyed the facts about the interference of CIA in acts of terrorism in Pakistan to the Government but on realizing that either the message was not strongly conveyed to the Americans or it had no desired impact on them, finally put his foot down and expressed serious concerns over the CIA's crude interference in the country's internal matters. The proof about instances of covert US support to some hardened militant outfits and terrorist activities they carried out over the past few weeks and months, was presented to Panetta. It was indeed a startling revelation for the top US spy and a bold manoeuvre of Pakistan Army. General Pasha's tactical move baffled Panetta when he was told in categorical terms that Pakistan had incriminating evidence about the CIA officials' involvement in providing assistance to perpetrators of some terrorist activities within Pakistan, which had negative impact on Pakistan's efforts towards war on terror and that the CIA must shun such activities. The clarity with which the information was conveyed sent a loud message to Capitol Hills that if it wanted Pakistan's cooperation in the war on terror, it must give up playing double games. It is a known fact that the Indian intelligence agency RAW is operating in Afghanistan with the active backing of CIA and not only is it involved in acts of terrorism in the NWFP but also in Balochistan. The Indians cannot undertake such wide-scale activities in this region without the tacit approval and backing of the CIA. The question arises how come India has developed a huge presence in Kabul.

Riaz Haq said...

According to a PBS news report, the UNODC estimates that the Taliban earned $90 million to $160 million per year from taxing the production and smuggling of opium and heroin between 2005 and 2009, as much as double the amount they earned while in power nearly a decade ago, reported the Agence France-Presse.

"The Taliban's direct involvement in the opium trade allows them to fund a war machine that is becoming technologically more complex and increasingly widespread," Antonio Maria Costa said.

He called the Afghanistan-Pakistan border "the world's largest free-trade zone in anything and everything that is illicit -- drugs of course, but also weapons, bomb-making equipment, chemical precursors, drug money, even people and migrants."

Less than 2 percent of the opium and heroin is seized by authorities before it leaves Afghanistan, with 40 percent of the heroin trafficked out of the country through Pakistan, 30 percent into Iran and about 25 percent through Central Asia, Reuters reported.

Central Asian nations intercept just 5 percent of the drugs flowing into their countries, as opposed to 20 percent in Iran and 17 percent in Pakistan, the report says, according to the AFP.

Worldwide, only 20 percent of Afghan opiates are intercepted before reaching addicts, while twice as much cocaine from South America is seized, the study said.

Of the 15.4 million opiate users worldwide, 11.3 million use heroin, while the rest use opium, the thick paste from poppies that is used to make heroin, reported Reuters.

Nearly half the world's heroin is consumed in Europe and Russia, and 42 percent of the world's opium users are in Iran.

Heroin and opium cause up to 100,000 deaths a year. Opiates are also helping spread HIV at an unprecedented rate through users sharing needles, the report said.

It should be recalled that the Taliban had completely eradicated poppy from Afghanistan when they ruled in 2000-2001.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some impressions of the Waziri tribes described by retired Pakistani Brigadier Marghoob Qadir as published in Daily Times:

The people belonging to the tribal belt that girdles Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the west live with an inexplicable mix of chivalry, banditry, personal liberty and tribal customs. It was 1985, I was commanding a unit in Kohat and we were travelling from Thal to Miranshah. I had ordered the regulation armed escort to stay put in Thal Fort. I knew it was irregular and quite risky also, but I had always regarded that such escorts, being cumbersome, normally impede speed and are at risk themselves. We were travelling through wild Waziristan practically bare handed. However, I had quietly slipped a service revolver into the jeep’s dashboard just in case. A few miles out of Thal, we saw a man sitting under a distant tree pointing his Kalashnikov at something directly above. As we got closer, he fired and whatever was left of a poor sparrow floated lifelessly to the ground below. Satisfied with his marksmanship he rolled his sheet, placed it under his head and lay down for a leisurely catnap.
We were negotiating a narrow and hilly tract of road short of Miranshah, when a rifle shot rang out from very close range. Then the second shot and a piece of rock scattered into bits as the bullet hit the rock face inches above the jeep bonnet. I told the driver to stop, climbed out of the jeep and looked straight into the barrel of a rifle pointed at me by a young Waziri a few yards up the opposite slope. There was a short verbal exchange in Pashto between the two of us and then we resumed our journey to Miranshah. It transpired that by firing those ‘near miss’ shots, the Wiziri youngster wanted to find out if we were afraid or not. Admittedly, I countered him by saying that he would also be scared if the same weapon were aimed at him without a fair chance. The boy understood and gave up further confirmation of my valour or fear.

En route, we had stopped for a cup of tea in a sprawling fort manned by scouts. It was a treat in old style hospitality and was altogether overwhelming. The scouts in that fort observed a strange water collection ritual every day at a given time. They had shared the only water spring some distance outside the fort with a neighbouring Waziri village ever since the fort was built in British times. The water filled up in a large but open ground level cemented water tank. Under a treaty concluded between the Waziri villagers and the British, the Waziris were conceded the right to collect water in the early part of the day. The scouts would do so in the afternoon. Fearing treachery, the British thought of a brilliantly inexpensive and simple test. A pair of white swans is officially kept and trained by the fort scouts. As the fort door opens for the water collection party, this pair of swans marches out towards the water tank, leading. Dipping their beaks in the water tank they drink till their pouches fill. The scouts’ party commander would observe them keenly for a few minutes for any signs of poisoning. If found in good health, the party would collect water in their containers and march back into the fort with the swans leading. Proper funds were allocated for the maintenance of this pair of swans, we were told.
They hold their privacy, which has to be understood in the broadest possible terms as being very dear to them. An actual or perceived trespass can have grave consequences. Their concept of privacy roughly corresponds to the modern day notion of sovereignty. For example, to pass through a Waziri village in a high-strung military truck is to trespass. To chance upon a female water-filling point is a serious infringement and so on. It may be understood that the Waziri concept of privacy is actually a function of perception more than the action.

Mayraj said...

"In case you haven’t been following the news: last year’s parliamentary election was so chaotic and flawed that it resulted in the near-total disenfranchisement of Afghanistan’s Pashtun ethnic minority, which makes up a healthy 40 percent of the population. Many Pashtuns either didn’t vote, because of sympathy or support for the Taliban and dislike of the Afghan government, or couldn’t vote, because of Taliban threats and violence. As a result, in some provinces in the south and east where Pashtuns dominate, not a single Pashtun was elected to parliament. For Karzai, that was a disaster, especially since he’s trying to reach out to his Pashtun base as part of his search for a deal with the Taliban and its allies. Earlier this year, a special court appointed by Karzai ruled that sixty-two members of parliament, mostly non-Pashtuns, were elected fraudulently, a step toward installing Pashtun members in their place. Not surprisingly, Karzai’s opponents in parliament, especially Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras who oppose Karzai’s outreach to the Taliban, cried foul, challenged the constitutionality of the court, and demanded the impeachment of Karzai.
If the war in Afghanistan ever made any sense at all, this stuff makes it clear that it's close to hopeless."

Government in Afghanistan Nears Collapse

Roland said...

A truly rare, historic short film shot by the narrator, an RAF officer posted in Waziristan in the 1930's.

Not much has really changed since including the Americans and NATO forces now re-learning the same lessons
the British did starting over a 100 years ago.

The article, despite similar content, is also worth a read.

This is a BBC interview with Group Captain Robert Lister, recorded in 1980, about his experiences as a junior officer in 20 Squadron on the North-West Frontier. He transferred there in 1935, and flew Audaxes in air control operations against Waziri tribespeople, sometimes in support of the Army, sometimes independently. He candidly notes that the 250-lb bombs were the ones which would be used against villages, but also that leaflets were invariably dropped beforehand, warning of an imminent attack.

But the clip isn't just Lister talking; it's Lister talking over his own cinefilm footage from 1935! Both from the ground and from the air, bombing and strafing Waziri villages. Also to be seen are the detonation of an improvised explosive device planted in the landing strip by the rebels, and one of the goolie chits affixed to the side of every Audax, to be used in the event of a forced landing. Fascinating stuff.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Army documentary Glorious Resolve wins international award, according to PakistanToday:

Rawalpindi - Inter Services Public Relations documentary has won the first prize in the recently held International Film Festival “Eserciti-e-Popoli” (Army and People) held at Bracciano, Rome (Italy). The festival saw the participation of NATO and 24 Countries with 60 films grouped into several categories: from institutional training information to environmental protection to humanitarian missions for peace. The films, produced by renowned film makers were evaluated an qualified and experienced jury. The Pakistan Army’s documentary “Glorious Resolve” received the Jury’s Special award from the President of the Italian Senate with the citation “A technically outstanding and emotionally powerful dramatisation of the story of the courageous soldiers under fire in a dire combat situation”. The award given by Gen. Giancarlo Fortuna, the President of the International Jury was received by a representative of the Pakistani Embassy in Rome. ‘Glorious Resolve’ was a joint venture of ISPR and Mindworks Media. Brigadier Syed Azmat Ali was Executive Producer whereas Brig Syed Mujtaba Tirmizi was Executive Director of the film.
Lieutenant Colonel Irfan Aziz was project director and the writer of this film which was directed by Sarosh Kayani. Mindworks Media Dr Hassan Waqas Rana was the producer whereas Bilal Lashari was Director of Photography. Based on a true operational account, Glorious Resolve highlights the tale of infantry soldiers, who fought when 1,500 militants raided a section-level outpost of an Infantry Battalion in South Waziristan Agency on the night of 29 May 2009. The documentary focuses on the sacrifices and achievements of the Pakistan Army in its resolve to end terrorism in Pakistan. It shows how 43 Punjab Regiment soldiers were killed and two stood ground till reinforcements arrived.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Nation report on Pak Army's work in FATA:

The corps commander said that Pakistan Army has conducted more than 300 major and 760 minor operations in militancy-hit areas in the last few years, most of them in the year 2009-10. He added that peace has been restored in entire north of Pakistan and road accesses to majority of Fata have been established.

From the year 2008 to 2012, writ of government has been established in 91 per cent of Fata while eight per cent remain in contested control. Army is working on the sustainable development plan in order to improve the livelihood condition of ordinary people in Fata, he added.

The Commander mentioned 52 ongoing educational projects under Pak Army especially the establishment of Cadet College in South Waziristan Agency, Khyber Institute of Technical Education and Waziristan Institute of Technical education as a major development in improving skill and quality education among people of Fata.

Gen Rabbani categorically stated that no army in the world can win war without the support of its countrymen.

He described political ownership of military operation and operation within tribal system as the way forward in achieving long lasting peace in Pakistani militancy hit areas.

He termed gradual mainstreaming of Fata and its infrastructure development as key towards its socio economic development.

Replying to a question raised by a student, Rabbani said that army remains in a particular area for attaining pace on requisition of the federal government.

He also rejected the perception that army consumes eighty percent of the budget, and explained that all the three forces i.e. Army, Air force and Navy consume 17 per cent of the total budget, in which army share is 8.7 per cent. He stressed the need for perception management of the country and described Pakistani media as key partner in achieving it.

The seminar is a sign of solidarity with our army who are sacrificing their lives for peace within the country, said Prof Dr AZ Hilali, Chairman Department of Political Science. He said that department of political science has been arranging series of national and international seminars on core issues confronting the country and the region for capacity building of the students.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a Reuters' blog on "US War in FATA":

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is using increasingly forthright terms to describe the spillover of the war in Afghanistan into Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in its campaign of drone strikes. “We are fighting a war in the FATA, we are fighting a war against terrorism,” he said during a visit to India. The idea that the United States is at war inside Pakistan, albeit in its tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, is not new. But the use of language is significant, requiring as Spencer Ackerman noted at Danger Room, “a war-weary (US) public to get used to fighting what’s effectively a third war in a decade, even if this one relies far more on remote controlled robots than ground troops”.

Panetta’s choice of words (and venue for delivering them) may not go down too well with Pakistani authorities in Islamabad/Rawalpindi. It is not particularly promising for the people of FATA either, who find themselves caught in the middle of a shadow war between the United States and Pakistan. But in one respect, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Rarely has the United States fought a war in a place about which it knows so little. If Panetta’s comments force people to learn about FATA, it might even lift us out of what until now has been a polemical debate between supporters and opponents of drone strikes, with little attention paid to the voices of people who actually live there.
This week I unearthed a book I had borrowed in order to return it – a 1938 edition of the British ”Handbooks for the Indian Army” dealing with “Pathans”. Coming from a generation who grew up learning to be ashamed of colonialism, I expected it to appal me. What I found was a tract which was sympathetic and respectful. It cautioned against using stereotypes about the Pathans, as the British used to call the Pashtun. It admired their history and poetry, commended them as soldiers; noted their respect for democracy and justice and insisted on paying attention quickly to their grievances. Avoiding the trap of
thinking that all people of FATA are the same, it described in detail the different tribes – their lifestyles often influenced by availability of arable land. The British liked to study and classify their imperial subjects all the better to control them - rather as a collector pins rare butterflies to a wall – so let’s not get carried away with the supposed benevolence.

But consider what it said about the need for political reform. “Pathans have often been stimatized as combining some of the worst traits of human character,” it noted, when describing their violent lifestyle and endless blood feuds. “But it is difficult to perceive in what other manner the tribesman is to protect himself, and his property and family, unless there is a complete social change of the conditions under which he lives; and as long as there is no settled government, and the principle of might being right prevails, this cannot occur.”

Remember that was 1938 and the British had already acknowledged the need for “settled government” even if they did not implement it. By now, one would have thought we would have become more aware. If nothing else, in the long years since the Sept 11 attacks on New York and Washington we might have studied the region where the United States is, as Panetta said, “at war”. Yet we know less about FATA now than the British did more than 70 years ago. These are the “tribal badlands”, the terms of their isolation defined by us rather than them, a place we choose not to know. Rather than knowledge we have polemics on drones. What have we become?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story on Pak and US efforts to develop FATA:

Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani inaugurated a US-funded road project in South Waziristan Agency on Monday — a move that may indicate easing of tensions between the estranged allies.

The development is being seen as a significant one as the army chief has recently distanced himself from being associated with the Americans. Furthermore, Kayani inaugurated the Tank-Gomal-Wana Road amid reports that Washington had shown willingness to accept some of Islamabad’s demands, including an apology for last year’s Salala air strikes.

A Pakistani official described the development as ‘positive’ saying despite recent hiccups in relations between the two countries, the US continued to fund important projects in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

“The US is proud to partner with the government of Pakistan in rebuilding key roads and infrastructure in Fata,” said Karen Freeman, acting director of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission in Pakistan.

“We believe our joint efforts will bring commerce, jobs, trade and long-term security to this important region of Pakistan,” Freeman added.

The road connects to the US-funded 110 kilometre Tank-Makin Road, which was completed earlier this year at Kaur. The road will provide the people of Murtaza Kot, Nilikatch, Gomal Zam, Tanai, Tiarza and Wana in the South Waziristan Agency access to Tank, DI Khan and other parts of Pakistan, a statement issued by the US Embassy said.

USAID has contributed over $260 million for roads and other key infrastructure projects in Fata.

Meanwhile, the army chief attempted to strike a delicate balance when he suggested the military was compelled to launch an operation against militants in Waziristan.

However, after flushing out terrorists in the area, the army’s focus has now become centered on maintaining peace in the area by concentrating on rehabilitation and reconstruction activities, the army chief pointed out.

In a meeting with tribal elders, Kayani insisted that no army wanted to fight within its own borders.

“The army is concentrating on health and education facilities,” he added.

He also inaugurated Spinkai Ragzai Cadet College and reviewed the security situation besides ongoing developmental work in South Waziristan.

According to APP, Kayani said the army was deployed in the area on the demand of locals and would stay till the completion of development projects.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn story on US AID projects in FATA:

The United States Agency for International Development will construct 200-kilometre roads in South and North Waziristan agencies in addition to undertaking longer term interventions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s education and health sectors.

Andrew Sisson, the agency’s mission director in Pakistan, told Dawn that the USAID had already constructed over 200km roads in South Waziristan and it was planning construction of additional 200km roads primarily in North Waziristan Agency and some in South Waziristan Agency.

“It (road construction) is an excellent investment in opening the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in terms of economy and business to the rest of the country,” he said.

The US agency, he said, had provided $201 million for roads linking North Waziristan and South Waziristan to the rest of Pakistan. He said that USAID was also planning to provide more resources for roads directly to the Fata Civil Secretariat later this year.

Similarly, the USAID signed an agreement in October last year for disbursing funds for the construction of irrigation network downstream Gomal Zam dam that, he said, would irrigate 120,000 cultivable acres, benefiting thousands of farm families. Some $9 million for construction irrigation network, he said, had been released to the Water and Power Development Authority in December last.

Mr Sisson said that investment in this part of Pakistan (KP and Fata), especially for education, health, infrastructure, community level activities, irrigation and business development, remained ‘a very high priority’ of the US government.

“We are budgeting for the future..we are hopeful that the funds would come after approval by our Congress,” said Mr Sisson, adding that the Obama administration was committed to maintaining high level of aid to Pakistan even during this rocky period (of relationship).

“Despite our relations, our aid levels are high,” he said, adding that his organisation would continue building schools in Fata and KP, which was a very important part of the bilateral relationship.

He said that their assistance to Pakistan was in the interest of the people of both the countries and that it had been achieving great results. The USAID-funded projects, according to him, put 400MW to the grid last year, some 500MW would be added to the system next year, and one million children went to schools constructed by the agency over the past few years.

“We want Pakistan to succeed, to be more stable and have a more prosperous economy,” he said, adding that their interest in Pakistan would continue no matter who was in power in the US.

He said that apart from funding five major interventions in the energy sector the US was looking into making other investments to help Pakistan overcome its energy sector. “We are in discussion with the government for carrying out feasibility studies for Diamer-Bhasha dam,” said the USAID director.

He said that the USAID was also assisting the Fata secretariat and the KP to help build their capabilities. Justifying delays in the execution of infrastructure projects in the KP and Fata, Mr Sisson said “Even in the United States complicated infrastructure projects don’t go on schedule and that’s very true in Pakistan (as well).”

He said that some of the infrastructure projects were being carried out in tough regions where security formed a major impediment to the on time completion of projects.

About corruption-free use of USAID funds, he said that except for two cases in which the USAID Office of Inspector General had collaborated with National Accountability Bureau, a majority of the projects had seen apt and honest use of funds.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Bloomberg Op Ed titled "No More Bullying Pakistan" written by former State Dept official Vali Nasr:

It took eight months, but the U.S. has finally apologized for killing 24 Pakistani soldiers in a firefight on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

With that, the U.S. military is again able to use routes through Pakistan to supply its forces in Afghanistan without paying exorbitant fees. Plus the threat that Pakistan will bar U.S. drone strikes is for now moot.
However, the main implication of the apology, a triumph of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over both the White House and the Pentagon, is that it ends the experiment of the U.S. trying to bully Pakistan into submission.

The clash in November between U.S. and Pakistani forces was a mess, with miscommunication on both sides but fatalities on only one. Pakistan, still seething over the U.S. breach of its sovereignty in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, closed U.S. military supply routes to Afghanistan when the U.S. initially refused to apologize. The U.S., in turn, froze $700 million in military assistance and shut down all engagement on economic and development issues. In a further deterioration of ties, the Pakistani Parliament voted to ban all U.S. drone attacks from or on Pakistani territory.
No Sympathy

The Pakistanis held firm in their insistence on an apology. Officials at the Pentagon thought the case didn’t merit one. Many had no sympathy for the Pakistanis, whom they regarded as double-dealers for stoking the insurgency in Afghanistan and providing haven to the notorious extremists of the Haqqani Network. The White House feared that an apology would invite Republican criticism. Throughout the crisis, Clinton and her senior staff argued that the U.S. should apologize. She supported re-engaging with Pakistan to protect a critical relationship while also holding Pakistan accountable for fighting the Taliban and other extremists, a point she has raised in each of her conversations with Pakistani leaders.

Clinton’s recommendations were contrary to the policy the Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency put in place in early 2011. Relations had soured when the Pakistanis held CIA operative Raymond Davis after he shot two Pakistanis. Frustrated with Pakistan’s foot-dragging on counterterrorism, the two agencies successfully lobbied for a strategy to reduce high-level contacts with Pakistan, shame Pakistan in the news media, and threaten more military and intelligence operations on Pakistani soil like the bin Laden assassination. It was a policy of direct confrontation on all fronts, aimed at bending Pakistan’s will.

It failed. Pakistan stood its ground. Far from changing course, Pakistan reduced cooperation with the U.S. and began to apply its own pressure by threatening to end the drone program, one of the Obama administration’s proudest achievements.
The conclusion: Open conflict with Pakistan was not an option. It was time to roll back the pressure.

The apology is just a first step in repairing ties deeply bruised by the past year’s confrontations. The U.S. should adopt a long-term strategy that would balance U.S. security requirements with Pakistan’s development needs. Managing relations with Pakistan requires a deft policy -- neither the blind coddling of the George W. Bush era nor the blunt pressure of the past year, but a careful balance between pressure and positive engagement. This was Clinton’s strategy from 2009 to 2011, when U.S. security demands were paired with a strategic dialogue that Pakistan coveted. That is still the best strategy for dealing with this prickly ally.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a DW report on Pakistan introducing local self-government in FATA:

On Tuesday, the Pakistani government, in a bid to extend its control to insurgency-marred FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), announced that it was introducing a local self-government system to the region.

President Asif Ali Zardari announced this landmark decision on the 65th anniversary of Pakistan's day of independence (August 14) and said the new law was "in accordance with the wishes of the tribal people and (also) in accordance with their customs and traditions."

The new system would replace the centuries-old Frontier Crime Regulation Act (FCR), through which the former British colonial rulers governed these lawless areas.

The FATA includes seven tribal districts, or agencies, which Islamabad currently administers through a "political agent" - usually an influential tribal leader.

However, it is not the federal government but the Islamist militants - which include the Taliban and al Qaeda-linked terrorists - who control most parts of the FATA and use them to launch attacks on foreign troops and civilians in neighboring Afghanistan.

President Zardari lauded

Pakistani civil society, which for a long time had been demanding the introduction of a local self-government system in the FATA, has hailed President Zardari's announcement.

Mahnaz Rahman, a veteran civil society activist in Karachi, told DW that President Zardari was known to have made quite a few pro-democracy and people-friendly decisions.

"It is a good step and we should appreciate it. It is a pity that President Zardari's government is not being hailed for its progressive legislations and other such acts," Rahman said, adding that the Pakistani media tended to highlight the negative side of the Pakistan People's Party's civilian government.

"We believe that the local government system promotes good governance. It decentralizes power. We have long been demanding that the FATA be brought into the mainstream and not be treated as a colony," Rahman said....
"The decision looks good on paper," said Ayaz Amir, a columnist and member of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. "Because of the ongoing insurgency, the government is unable to exercise its authority in these areas. There are military operations going on in several FATA agencies. Now we hear that there might be a military operation in North Waziristan against the Haqqanis. In these circumstances, I don't think this can be implemented."

Amir said the old tribal structure, which once worked very well for the FATA, had "completely collapsed."

"There are 'political agents' in the seven agencies but they no longer have the power they used to have. The government should first focus on curbing the insurgency and then think of instituting civilian reforms in the FATA," Amir said.

But Rahman was hopeful that these reforms can be implemented in tribal areas.

"I think the government can implement this system if it really wants to. The tribal people want their problems to be solved and they will welcome a system which is run by their own people," she said.

"Not everyone is militant in these areas, and I am sure people want change," Rahman added.,,16167261,00.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of The News story about Parachinar in Kurram Agency in FATA:

The government and local administration would take affective steps to maintain peace and for this purpose elders were also being taken into confidence, he added.

During interaction with the elders and other segments of the society, Governor Masood Kausar said the government could not maintain peace and stability without the cooperation of local population.

He said the government was serious to build schools and roads and provide better health and education facilities for which peace was a must and that could not be maintained without sincere support of all tribes. “Kurram Agency should be a role model for the rest of tribal agencies in Fata and it cannot be achieved without support of local people,” he said and warned that troublemakers would not be provided space to derail peace process in the area.

During his visit to Parachinar Public School, Degree College for Women and Sports Complex, he said no efforts would be spared to impart quality education to the future builders of the nation and healthy activities like games would be encouraged.

He announced provision of computers to the college and laboratory equipment to the school. He was informed that about 1,244 girls were enrolled in the college and 961 were studying at the school.

However, the institutions were short of teaching staff which the governor promised to overcome. The girl students asked the governor to fill all vacant posts in the college and regularise contract teachers. He also laid foundation-stone for construction of a Polytechnic Institute and inspected its site and directed that work on the project be accelerated.

The governor also inaugurated the new building of Parachinar Press Club and administered oath to its newly elected office-bearers. He was generous enough to announce Rs200,000 for the Press Club, Rs50,000 each for the winner and runner-up cricket teams at the sports complex and thousands more for the schoolchildren presenting PT show and other performances. The governor also held an open Katcheri to listen to the grievances of the people.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BR story on Munda dam in Mehmend agency of FATA:

LAHORE: The European Union (EU) has provided 1.2 million Euros as grant to conduct climate change impact assessment study in Swat basin for Munda Dam multipurpose project, located in Mohmand Agency of the Federally Administered Areas (FATA).

A joint venture comprising two renowned firms namely AHT of Germany and NESPAK of Pakistan has also been appointed as consultants to carry out the studies, said Raghib Shah, Chairman of Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) here Sunday.

He said Munda Dam project was of immense importance for socio-economic development and poverty alleviation, as it would ensure water for irrigated agriculture, control floods and generate low-cost hydel electricity.

Thanking the EU for its support, he said, the grant would help implement this vital project.

At present, detailed engineering design and the tender documents of Munda Dam project were being prepared, for which French development agency AFD had committed to provide 11 million Euros to WAPDA, he maintained.

Underlining the need of foreign assistance for completion of the projects, he hoped that the EU would also provide financial support for construction phase of Munda Dam project.

The Chairman said that Munda Dam Project would store 1.29 million acre feet (MAF) of water for irrigation, while power generation capacity stands at 740 mega watt (MW), contributing about 2.4 billion units of electricity to the national grid every year.

Benefits of the project have been estimated at Rs. 20.2 billion per annum, he added.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn story on recent book about FATA and drones:

American University Professor Dr. Akbar Ahmed’s latest book “The Thistle and the Drone“, published by Washington-based Brookings Institution, has finally given voice to how the ‘War on Terror’ is being viewed as a war against Muslim tribal societies. The tribal regions, such as Waziristan in Pakistan, had historically enjoyed either remarkable internal autonomy or widespread poverty and underdevelopment. Today, the tribesmen believe drone strikes have made “every day like 9/11” for them. In wake of the Predator attacks, the tribes feel collectively terrorised, humiliated and displaced from their native lands.

Dr. Ahmed, who had previously served as a Political Agent, the highest official administrative post, in Waziristan, passionately endeavors to educate his readers with firsthand experiences on how tribal societies function and what their traditions and values mean to them.

He opens The Thistle and the Drone with a comparison of the United States’ search for Osama bin Laden, which cost trillions of dollars, and the search for Safar Khan, a notorious criminal back in the day when the author was the political agent as the agent of the tribal region:

“It was not Bush but his successor, Barack Obama, who located and killed bin Laden. But it would take a decade of war costing trillions of dollars, with hundreds of thousands of lives lost and millions displaced. Entire nations would be thrown into turmoil and the world put on high alert. I got my man alive without a single shot being fired. The writ of the government was established, justice served and the guilty man brought to book. The difference was that I worked entirely within the tribal framework and traditional social structure.”

Dr. Ahmed attributes the failure of the United States and Pakistan to deal with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other tribal worries to their ignorance of tribal lifestyles and patterns of behavior.

The author goes on to add: “Today all major decisions and initiatives in this area are being made by military officials, whereas the entire operation to get Safar Khan was led by the civilian administration in close cooperation with tribal elders and win the regions’ larger tribal networks that crossed several borders.”

But The Thistle and the Drone is not just a book about drones. It discusses how the ‘War on Terror’ has increased tensions between the central governments and the Muslim tribes living on the periphery. In addition, it also talks about the relationship between the tribes and the centre in countries where drone warfare has not yet been encountered.

It is probably the first extensive research of its kind which examines at least forty case studies spread in three continents. The core studies focus on the Pakhtun of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal regions, the Somali, the Yamenis, the Asir and Najran regions of Saudi Arabia and the Kurds of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.

In all these case studies, Dr. Ahmed talks about tribal regions in the Muslim world where “the centre is failing to protect its citizens on the periphery and is not giving them their due rights and privileges according to the principles of modern statehood…wherever the tribes have lived and however fierce their resistance, the intensity and scale of the onslaught from the centre has created the same results: massive internal disruption in the periphery which has consequence for the centre.”

The Thistle and the Drone will hopefully initiate an earnest debate about tribal people whose lives have been shaken simultaneously by drone attacks, belligerent federal governments and armed insurgent groups like the TTP. In the discourse on the global ‘War on Terror’ the voices of the tribes were barely heard for one decade – and now The Thistle and the Drone has given them a remarkable voice.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's excerpt of an NBC report on Waziristan agency of FATA in Pakistan:

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan — It's been called the most dangerous place in the most dangerous region on the planet.

A rugged swathe of tribal territory nestled between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Waziristan is ground zero for some of the region's most notorious militant groups and warlords, including the Pakistani Taliban and Haqqani network.

North and South Waziristan are hit by more U.S. drone attacks than anywhere else in the world.

NBC News obtained rare access to South Waziristan and last week became the first foreign team of journalists to report from North Waziristan.
At the heart of the army's plans to rebuild the area is a 370-mile road — funded in large part by USAID money. The road, half of which is complete, will connect the isolated and insular tribal communities to each other, as well as the rest of mainstream Pakistan and to trading routes across the border in Afghanistan.

When finished, the roadway will offer a third link from Pakistan to Afghanistan, and the army hopes, will encourage business development along its path through Waziristan.

In addition to the road project, the army has taken on development projects far outside its traditional roles.

Along with the markets, two military schools, known here as Cadet Colleges, were built in South Waziristan to offer young men a rigorous education and boarding-school environment, unlike any educational opportunity available in the region before.

Col. Zahid Naseem Akbar, principal of the Cadet College, Spinkai, said he hopes the school will gives boys in the area the same opportunities as those elsewhere in the country.

"They have the same potential as any other citizen of this country has," Akbar said. "And I think we owe it to them that we provide them the opportunity to join the mainstream."

The army is overseeing the rebuilding to schools demolished by the Taliban and building schools for the first time in some areas, including for girls. The military established the Waziristan Institute for Technical Education -- a vocational school to train young men who missed their early education during Taliban rule.

And the army is restoring water supplies and electrical systems and funding what they call "livelihood projects," training and empowering local small businesses in everything from honey bee farming and fruit orchards, to auto repair and transport services.

"The strategy that the Pakistan army has adopted is a people-centric strategy," Hayat said. "So the more areas you've able to clear, the more infrastructure you're able to build, the more people you are able to bring back and sustain. Provide them economic opportunities. That is the measure of success."

Ideal habitat for Taliban
Frontline commanders all say the battle for Waziristan will not be won with hearts and minds alone. Security operations continue, gradually increasing what they call their "elbow space" in the region.

Both North and South Waziristan feature snow-capped peaks, deep valleys, hidden caverns, and daunting mountain ranges which provide natural cover. It's the ideal habitat for the Taliban and other groups seeking refuge and covert routes for travel between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Asia Times on a woman candidate defying tribal traditions in Pakistan's FATA region:

BAJAUR AGENCY, Pakistan - "My sole motive is to serve my people, especially women who have had no role in politics so far. I feel we can make progress only by bringing in women into mainstream politics." These are the words of Badam Zari, 40, who has filed her nomination papers with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Zari is contesting from the militancy-hit Bajaur Agency, one of the seven districts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) near the Afghanistan border.

Zari's tiny but lush green house in Arang village is buzzing with activity as women from the neighborhood come in droves to congratulate her for the exemplary courage she has shown in standing for elections.

Forget standing for election, women in FATA do not vote. It was only in 1997 that the federal government gave the six million residents of FATA the right of adult franchise. Before that, only a few government-nominated elders called Maliks were entitled to cast votes or stand in election.

In January this year, the Election Commission of Pakistan proposed an amendment to the Representation of People Act, 1976, making it compulsory for every polling station to have at least 10% of its total votes cast by women. It went so far as to suggest that results from polling stations not be taken into account till that provision was met. The government, however, paid no heed to the suggestion.

"I am extremely worried about tribal women, most of who stay in their houses, which has prevented them from making any progress," Zari told IPS. "My only ambition is to struggle for the improvement of women's conditions in Bajaur Agency. Women here are suffering as none of the lawmakers in FATA have ever worked towards their development."

Her action, she is sure, will motivate women to come to the polling booths on polling day and vote in her favor....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Gulf News report on new tech training center in FATA's Bajaur agency in Pakistan:

Islamabad: In keeping with the directives of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to provide assistance to the people of Pakistan and to support technical and vocational educational there, the UAE Project to Assist Pakistan (UPAP) has announced completion of the project to build a technical college at Bajaur in Pakistan at a total cost of $3.4 million (Dh12.4 million). The project was delivered to the local government in Bajaur following completion.

The official inauguration of the college was attended by Chief of Pakistan Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, UAE Ambassador to Pakistan Eisa Abdullah Al Basha Al Nuaimi, Abdullah Khalifa Al Gafli, Director of the UPAP, and senior Pakistani officials.

The college is built on a 34,000 square foot area. It will provide diploma-level technical education for up to 450 students in various disciplines of engineering such as electrical, mechanical, civil and mining.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET story on education in Waziristan:

A quiet and peaceful revolution is taking place in South Waziristan. Girls, with the support and protection of the tribal elders and the community, are going to school. The Chaghmalai Government Girls High School is about to open its doors to welcome its first 269 students.
After staying several years in internally displaced persons’ camps or with host families elsewhere, locals are returning to South Waziristan. Due to extensive destruction during the conflict, starting again has been tough, especially for the poorest and the most vulnerable. Despite these hardships, a positive development has emerged — communities are passionate to educate their children, both boys and girls.
Since returning, the elders have held numerous jirgas with the army to discuss how to achieve lasting peace and a sustainable economic future. Perhaps, the exodus to other parts of Pakistan created a better understanding among the communities of the value of education and its role in achieving a better life. In a region where literacy rates for males is 29 per cent and for females just three per cent, this is a big step forward.
There are so many positive signs of change. During a visit in March, I attended the rehearsals for a Pakistan Day school concert in Spinkai Raghzai, one of the poorest villages. Like children all over the country, preparing for a national day celebration, the children in Spinkai Raghzai were just as excited, though a little nervous about performing in front of their peers and guests.
The theme was peace and education, developed around the quotes of the Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal. But what made this little pageant so special was the setting. This is a post-conflict environment where children and their families have suffered terror, tragedy and great loss. In the past, the Taliban ran suicide-training camps in Spinkai and it has been the scene of unimaginable horror. Even now, the children there suffer anxiety that the militants might return.
It was hard not to be emotional. Only hard-hearted cynics could fail to be touched by the sense of occasion, or how remarkable this was in a now-peaceful village with so dark a recent history, or to mock the children’s hopes and enthusiasm for a peaceful future. I was reminded of a quote from Arundhati Roy’s, The God of Small Things, “That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.”...

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a PakistanToday report on Pakistan Army's support for education in FATA:

Peshawar Corps Commander Lieutenant General Khalid Rabbani on Thursday said the Pakistan Army attaches immense importance to the development of education sector and is actively involved in nation building projects in areas cleared by the army.

He was addressing the inauguration ceremony of Model School Wana constructed by the Pakistan Army in South Waziristan Agency, said a press release by ISPR.

Lieutenant General Khalid Rabbani said that concerted and dedicated efforts were being made to improve literacy rate in the tribal areas. The Pakistan Army set up schools and cadet colleges where students are groomed to incorporate qualities of good and productive human beings.

Most of these schools and colleges were being constructed in the remote and far-flung areas to improve the standard of education of the so far underprivileged tribal people, he elaborated.

The corps commander praised the efforts of the army engineers and political administration for facilitating the local community in spreading rays of knowledge in the area.

Earlier on his arrival, he was received by Major General Akhtar Jamil Rao and Major General Nadeem Raza and was briefed about the ongoing developmental projects.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on life returning to normal in South Waziristan after 2009 military operation:

Since the Pakistani military's 2009 offensive in South Waziristan largely drove out the Taliban, the region has seen development and trade. But peace talks in neighbouring North Waziristan is creating uncertainty over its future stability, as BBC Urdu's Shumaila Jaffrey reports after visiting the region with the army.

Irfan Khan is 18. He left his home in the Chagmalai area of tribal South Waziristan and migrated to Karachi to escape the war when he was only eight.

One of the lucky few who have made it back home, he is now thriving.

Irfan works in a football stitching unit built by the military in his village, earning around $150 (£90) every month.

"During the war it was hard to live here, so we went to Karachi," he says.

"I started my school there but couldn't continue it; then the military called us back to Chagmalai and put me in this football unit. It has given me a decent living, I am very happy now."

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

The road has made our life easier”

Hazrat Ali
Truck driver
Avenues of trade
A few years ago the concept of a peaceful and settled life was completely alien to the people in South Waziristan. They had never thought of getting roads, schools, hospitals and employment schemes.

Since the Pakistani military recaptured the territory from the Taliban, it has brought a lot of development in the area.

But the development didn't come easily. More than 640 soldiers have lost their lives during and after the operation; 31 of them were killed during the construction of roads.

Aklas Khan, known as Baba South Waziristan, was once a staunch supporter and facilitator of the Taliban, but when he saw the bloodshed and misery inflicted by them on the local people, he disassociated himself from the militants.

"Earlier all the men used to carry guns in our area, but now it's banned. People cannot keep and display weapons [without a license].

"There are hardly any incidents of murders, kidnappings and robberies in our area, we want to live peacefully now".

The military has constructed 800km (500 miles) of road that connects South Waziristan to Afghanistan. The road has opened new avenues of trade between the two countries.

Hazrat Ali is a truck driver. He takes vegetables, fruits and other day-to-day items from Pakistan to Afghanistan. He used to make one trip a month, but since the road has been constructed, he takes two trips in a week.

"The road has made our life easier," he says.

"There are dozens of check posts on the road, the military is patrolling round the clock, trade through Angoor Adda border has increased manifold."

Threat to peace
The military has created a strong defensive shield around the area.

Every person who wants to enter South Waziristan has to register at a military checkpoint.

There is a long list of people displayed at the checkpoint; these are the people that the military consider to be a potential threat to the peace of the area.

The list includes the names of members of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Many believe that peace in South Waziristan is linked to the future developments in North Waziristan.

During the army action, the Taliban were forced to retreat to North Waziristan, and over the years it has become a safe haven for militants from the Taliban and al-Qaeda as well as other jihadist organisations.

Their presence in the north is a constant threat to the peace and stability in South Waziristan....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Christian Science Monitor report on teaching of science at a major madrassa in Pakistan's FATA region:

Anwarul Haq, a frail, bespectacled cleric, sits before a class of attentive students in Darul Uloom Haqqania, one of Pakistan’s many madrassas, or Islamic seminaries. His class of 1,400 students is the most senior of 4,000 enrollees at Darul Uloom, an hour's drive from Peshawar.

The students follow a 500-year-old curriculum adopted across South Asia. The oversized book used in Mr. Haq's class, a collection of ahadith, or sayings attributed to the prophet Muhammad, is centuries old and written in Arabic. Commentary written in Urdu in present-day India fills the margins.

“This country was built on Islam, the idea of following God's teachings. Here we are learning how to do that,” says Haq.

RECOMMENDED: How much do you know about Pakistan? Take this quiz.

What students learn, and don’t learn, in thousands of such private seminaries is a matter of concern for Pakistan’s government. Under a national security policy unveiled last month, Pakistan aims to bring madrassas under tighter state control, update their curricula to tone down extremist views, and introduce subjects like mathematics and science. The goal is to turn out graduates capable of getting decent jobs who won’t be tempted to join the Taliban or other militant groups.

“Graduates stand in between two worlds,” says Nafisa Shah, a lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League. When they don't get jobs, she says, “they become vulnerable [to recruitment by militants].”

Pakistan currently has a tenuous ceasefire with homegrown Taliban militants and has released scores of suspected militants and accomplices in confidence-building measures. Still, terrorist attacks have continued by splinter groups the Taliban claim not to control. On Apr. 9, 21 people were killed in a blast at a fruit market in Islamabad.

Advanced degrees

Fears that Pakistan’s madrassas are breeding grounds for extremism are nothing new. After 9/11, the US government funded a $100 million madrassa reform program that met widespread hostility and failed to make much headway.

Clerics have scoffed at the government’s new security policy and point out that they’ve already instituted the kind of reforms the government advocates. Darul Uloom offers advanced specializations in Islamic law that Pakistan’s universities accept as Master's degrees, and runs computer labs for students.

Other madrassas have also upgraded their curriculum so that students, who spend much of their time memorizing the Quran, get a broader secular education. Most pupils are from poor backgrounds: madrassas offer free education, housing, and food.

Moreover, experts say the threat of militancy comes mostly from what students learn in their spare time, especially in hundreds of underground madrassas that are beyond the reach of both the clerics and the state. ...

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a PakistanToday story on a poll on secular education in madrasas:

Majority of Pakistanis believe an Imam should be aware of other subjects including science, technology, English etc besides his religious knowledge.

According to a Gilani Research Foundation Survey carried out by GallupPakistan, 72 per cent Pakistanis found it compulsory for Imam of mosques to gain knowledge of other subjects other than religious education.

A nationally representative sample of adult men and women, from across the four provinces was asked “Should the Imam be aware of subjects like science and technology, English language etc. besides his religious knowledge or not?” Responding to this, 72 percent said yes while only 28 per cent rejected this idea.

Riaz Haq said...

Seven months after Pakistan’s army launched a massive operation to oust militants from the country’s loosely regulated tribal areas, it is preparing to allow more than 1 million displaced residents to return home.

But it is telling them there may be one condition: Giving up some of their weapons.

For generations, the Pashtun tribesmen who populate the area say they have considered carrying a weapon outside as important as wearing sandals — and Pakistan’s government has made little effort to stop them. Unlike in most of Pakistan, where there are gun licensing requirements, the tribal belt is semiautonomous, and residents say that has given them a right to keep an array of weapons.
Now, though, the army vows it will keep the area clear of militants and bring more order to the famously unruly region.

Whether Pakistani security forces succeed will be a key test of the government’s long-term strategy for curbing terrorist attacks. Many analysts are skeptical that anything close to true order can ever be established in North Waziristan and Khyber Agency, and the tribesmen say that is why they are not likely to disarm.

“We have been keeping arms to protect our tribes, protect our people,” said Shah Jahan, a 50-year-old tribal elder from Khyber Agency. “But the government is asking us to go back without arms. How could we protect our honor and our dignity?”

Here in northwestern Pakistan, the culture of gun ownership can be traced to what the mostly Pashtun tribesmen call their “warrior instinct” combined with fact they rarely had to look far to find a weapon. Over the decades, both Pakistan and foreign governments, including the United States, have dumped arms into the area to try to influence the near continual war in neighboring Afghanistan.

As a result, it is common for men in the region common to own not only assault rifles but also rocket launchers and grenades. Some tribesmen even claim to possess antiaircraft weapons.

Those men say going home without a gun would be like going home without their wives. Many doubt Pakistan’s army can provide protection against Islamist militants, drug-runners and other criminals.

Riaz Haq said...

UAE opens Dh19.8m cadet college in Wana, South Waziristan, #FATA #Pakistan … via @TheNationalUAE

The UAE has completed construction of a military college in Pakistan, at a cost of US$5.4 million (Dh19.8m), the UAE Project to Assist Pakistan (UAEPAP) said on Saturday.

Cadet College Wana is the largest educational project in the South Waziristan region, the organisation said.

It was built under the directives of President Sheikh Khalifa, as part of UAEPAP’s continuing mission to provide humanitarian and developmental aid to Pakistan, and to support its educational sector.

State news agency Wam said the opening ceremony of the college was attended by General Raheel Sharif, Pakistan’s army chief of staff; Isa Al Basha Al Nuaimi, UAE ambassador to Pakistan; Abdullah Al Ghafli, director of UAEPAP; and UAE embassy staff, Pakistan army commanders and other officials.

Gen Sharif, Mr Al Nuaimi and Mr Al Ghafli unveiled a memorial plaque.

The officials also toured the college, whose facilities include technical and scientific laboratories.

Gen Sharif expressed his gratitude to Sheikh Khalifa for his support to Pakistan and for the UAE’s humanitarian initiatives, particularly during natural disasters and crises, as well as backing for development projects.

The UAE has provided a significant amount of assistance in tribal areas in Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Gen Sharif said. He praised the college as an important project in the development of South Waziristan’s education sector.

Mr Al Nuaimi said that under the wise leadership of Sheikh Khalifa, the UAE had supported the establishment of several humanitarian, educational, health and infrastructural projects through UAEPAP.

He also underscored the importance of the projects in lifting people’s living standards, as well as provision of services in the health, education and social sectors.

Waziristan is a mountainous area in north-west Pakistan. In 2013, UAE and Pakistani officials opened a US$38m road there, named after Sheikh Khalifa.

Riaz Haq said...

#FATA make it to #Pakistan's first-class #cricket tournament …

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have qualified for the main round of Pakistan's premier first-class tournament, the Quaid-e-Azam trophy. FATA, a rural part of the country, was given full regional status only in 2013 by the then PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf, making their qualification very significant.

They won their three qualifying matches, by significant margins of nine wickets against Abbottabad, 10 wickets against Faisalabad and, today, by 81 runs against Karachi Blues, to confirm their berth in the main round.

The PCB recently revamped the format of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, from last season's 26-team tournament to a new structure that comprises 16 teams - eight regional and eight departmental sides. Of the 16 teams, 12 - six regional and six departmental - gain automatic qualification on the basis of their performance last season. The last four places are filled through a qualifying round - two regional and two departmental teams - from which FATA made their way into the top competition. Lahore Blues are the other regional team promoted into the first-class competition.

"FATA's promotion to Grade I showed it was producing some splendid players and that reflected in their performances with both bat and ball," PCB chairman, Shaharyar Khan, said. "FATA's defeating Abbottabad, Faisalabad and now Karachi so convincingly is reflective of talent as well as the hard work of the players, coaching staff and management of the region. On our first circuit, the FATA Region's cricketers would get greater opportunities to express themselves while playing against the more accomplished outfits on our domestic circuit."

FATA includes 10 districts and tribal agencies including the North and South Waziristan. It borders provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and, a major chunk, with Afghanistan. The region qualified after managing to pick up players from their own region and not from any other part of the country, despite the game being much less developed here than in the rest of the country. The main tournament in the region before this was an annual inter-district cricket tournament.

Riaz Haq said...

I attended Silicon Valley book launch of Pakistani-American Saqib Mausoof's "The Warehouse".

The Warehouse is set in Pakistan's federally administered tribal area (FATA) that has seen a powerful Taliban insurgency since the US invasion of Afghanistan.

The author's novel's protagonist is Cash (Syed Qais Ali), an insurance company adjustor from Karachi who ends up in Waziristan to survey damage in a warehouse fire.

During discussion at the launch event at PACC last Saturday, Sept 10, 2016, Mausoof said he saw many FATA women attending Namal University in MIanwali that was founded by PTI Chief Imran Khan.

Namal University is located close to Pakistan's tribal areas where women have traditionally not benefited from higher education.

Mausoof saw several women from FATA wearing veils using computers and developing software in information technology classes at Namal.

Fyza Parviz, originally from Peshawar but currently in SF Bay Area, confirmed that she too is seeing many veil or hijab wearing Pashtun women from KP's rural areas attending colleges and universities.

Fyza Parviz originally hails from Peshawar Pakistan and has been living in the Bay Area for 14 years. She is a Software & Electrical Engineer by profession and loves to read, write, attend events, and create literary experiences. She is also the Web Producer for the Annual Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley. She is currently developing an engaging Online Social Platform for writers and readers. Her short stories, essays, and reviews have been published in PaperCuts Magazine and LitSeen.

Here's a news story from last year's graduation ceremony that feaured Imran Khan as keynote speaker at Namal:

Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan on Sunday attended the convocation ceremony of Namal University at Mianwali.

Imran Khan, while addressing the ceremony gathering, welcomed the Parents of the students hailing from Waziristan and also extended his congratulations to the parents whose children earned Bradford degree.

Imran Khan, in his message to the students, said that those people had never failed, who stuck to their aim, adding that unfortunately quality education in Pakistan was not accessible to poor’s segment of the society.

Riaz Haq said...

#UAE-funded 100-bed $5.5 million Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed #Hospital opens in #Swat #Pakistan #KP

A 100-bed state-of-the-art Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Hospital in Saidu Sharif, Swat District in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, has been inaugurated at a cost of more than $5.5 million (Dh20.18 million).
It was implemented on the directives of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and the follow up of Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, to support the health sector of Pakistan.
Essa Abdullah Al Basha Al Nuaimi, UAE Ambassador to Pakistan, Abdullah Khalifa Al Gafli, Director of UAE Project to Assist Pakistan (UAEPAP), toured different wards and sections and were briefed about latest health equipment installed in the hospital.
Speaking on the occasion, Gen. Sharif extended thanks and appreciation to the Shaikh Khalifa and Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed, for their continuous support to Pakistan and their generous humanitarian initiatives.
He said the Emirati political leadership and people have provided significant support to the people of this area through establishing a number of humanitarian and development projects, which contributed to developing the infrastructure in the various sectors.

He added that Shaikh Khalifa Hospital is one of the most important health projects completed in the northwestern province of Pakistan.
In his speech, Al Nuaimi hailed the UAE’s humanitarian approach that supports fraternal and friendly peoples under the wise leadership of Shaikh Khalifa.
Under the UAEPAP programme many projects have been carried out in humanitarian, educational, health and infrastructural development including construction of bridges and provision of clean drinking water.
Shaikh Khalifa hospital is built on 5,430 square metres and has latest diagnosis, treatment, laboratory and medical equipment. The hospital has 3 surgery rooms, 3 admission wards, emergency and other departments.

Riaz Haq said...

#FATA Development Top Priority: #Pakistan COAS Opens #Bannu-#Miranshah-GhulamKhan Rd. #Afghanistan- via @PKKHTweet

General Raheel Sharif, Chief of Army Staff on Sunday inaugurated an important section of upcoming Central Trade Corridor (CTC) alongwith the largest bridge on this road in South Waziristan Agency. CTC is a strategic road link to facilitate trade not only between Pakistan and Afghanistan but it will also directly and indirectly help revive local economy of FATA and KP. An international standard, 705 KM long road network through southern KP & FATA, CTC is being built by Army Engineers and funded by friendly countries.

The 76 KM long Shakai – Makeen road funded through USAID is an important lateral along the CTC which connects the two main axes of Trade Corridor i.e., Road Bannu – Miranshah – Ghulam Khan and Road Wana – Aangor Ada. Apart from other economic, security and strategic advantages, the newly constructed roads have reduced travelling times considerably.

The COAS said, development of FATA is a priority task being undertaken by the Army as a well considered strategy. Pakistan Army has undertaken 178 x projects so far in social sector take communication infrastructure and power sector in FATA and Malakand areas. These projects are aimed to improve the quality of life in tribal areas and address the problem of militancy on long term basis.

While addressing the tribal elders, COAS appreciated their support in combating terrorism and acknowledged their sacrifices in war against terrorism. He reiterated Army’s resolve to bring peace and stability to the affected areas.

Referring to operation Zarb-e-azb the Gen. Raheel Sharif said that the operation is progressing successfully as per plan. He said while focusing on early completion, the army will continue with rehabilitation and reconstruction activities. A comprehensive plan in this regard has been chalked out in consultation with the government.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan: #Education rekindles hope in minds of displaced #FATA children. #Waziristan #Taliban … via @reliefweb

Schools are being established across Fata, encouraging conflict stricken children to continue learning


As the sun sets behind the mountains, young boys ranging from nine to 16 sit on the floor of an empty classroom in Bara tehsil, some of them adorning a scarf and hat to keep warm.

“My mind does not grasp what is being taught in class,” says Asif Khan a student and resident of Bara Khyber Agency, expressing his disappointment at the time spent out of school.

Although he is not shy about reading aloud in front of his classmates, Asif says at times the pace of the lecture feels as if it’s in “slow motion.”

“The golden time for learning has almost passed,” he says, referring to the years long interval in his studies due to the conflict in his hometown.

Several children have recently enrolled in Alternative Learning Schools (ALS). The project is part of the ‘Literacy for All’ campaign under the Annual Development Program (ADP) which has been initiated to bring education to militancy-hit Fata.

Among them is 13-year-old Khalid Khan. A resident of Bara, Khalid is sitting at a Hujra (council of elders) now turned into a school. Much like other official buildings and gatherings in the community, the Hujra designates a minimum of two rooms which can be used as makeshift classrooms.

Before enrolling at his school, Khalid and many other children relocated to safer ground due to a rise in militancy and subsequent security operation. He now attends classes at a school a few meters away from what was previously a militant base.

“I had left my home due to their [Lashkar-e-Islam's] influence. During the military operation mortar shells were fired by unknown miscreants causing a lot of displacement,” he recounted. From 2009 to 2014 Khalid and his family took refuge in Zakha Khel in Landi Kotal.

After returning home, Khalid enrolled in an ALS school, established by the Fata Education Foundation (FEF) aiming to enhance enrollment of children who were displaced during military operations.

Despite being a progressive initiative, Asif feels that the school lacks facilities. “We need a bathroom, dustbin, furniture, big black board and other facilities so as to continue learning,” he says.

Laying the groundwork

Javed Iqbal, Manager Planning and Development of FEF, says arrangements have been made for the provision of desks and stationary. He claims they will “arrive over the next couple of months.” Iqbal also adds that checks will be conducted on each school via the Village Education Committees (VEC) before and during their operating hours of 2pm to 6pm..

According to FEF more than 76 schools for boys and 61 for girls have been established across tribal regions.


This delights parents like Mumtaz Afridi, whose children do not have to travel great distances to attend a government school. Expressing his joy on their proximity, he hopes the children getting educated here “will become doctors, engineers, teachers and other professionals in the future.”

Having established a total of 137 out of a planned 175 schools along the militancy affected tribal belt, FEF also hope to trigger employment opportunities.

Due to a dearth in educators FEF and ALS encourage young local community members to come teach at their schools. Young locals like Zara Jan, who is busy taking courses during the day, has been teaching in an ALS school since its establishment.

This initiative helps teachers achieve employment and their students gain 5th grade certificates that will be acceptable at private and government schools.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan approves landmark reforms to mainstream #FATA tribal areas, merger with #KP province @AJENews

Pakistan's cabinet has approved a plan to introduce widespread political and administrative reforms to its tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan, bringing landmark changes to an area that has long been a sanctuary for armed groups.

The changes, which include the extension of fundamental constitutional rights to citizens, will see Pakistan's constitution and penal code extended to the seven semi-autonomous tribal "agencies" for the first time since the country gained independence from the British in 1947.

"The time has now come for [the people of the tribal areas] to also be brought into the ambit of being Pakistani, to end the ongoing deprivation of their areas," said a statement issued by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's office on Thursday, following the cabinet meeting that approved the reforms.

The laws will give citizens access to fundamental rights and the ability to vote for representatives in provincial and local council elections, among other benefits.

Currently, the northwestern region is governed under the British-era Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), a draconian law dating back to colonial times which leaves citizens with no recourse to formal courts and open to collective punishment for the crimes of members of their tribes.

The lack of formal law and writ of the state in the tribal areas made them a haven for armed groups, including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and al-Qaeda, for decades.

Pakistan's military regained control of North Waziristan - the last of the tribal areas still under Taliban control - after an offensive launched in mid-2014 that lasted until the end of 2016.

Since then, violence has dropped across the country, but sporadic high-profile attacks, such as the bombing of a shrine last month that killed 88 people, remain common.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan: Cabinet Approves 5-Year Plan To Merge Tribal Areas With Neighboring Province

Pakistan's Cabinet approved on March 2 a five-year plan to merge the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in western Pakistan with the neighboring province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dawn reported. The plan includes proposals to repeal the colonial-era Frontier Crimes Regulations laws and to extend the authority of the country's supreme court into the region. Approving the plan represents a key development in Pakistan's bid to reform a region that has long been the epicenter of militancy. Still, the government has only approved the proposal in principle, and there will undoubtedly be complications surrounding the plan, including concerns some hold about the sovereignty of the tribes in the region. Deadlines to watch include the goal of repatriating all internally displacing persons in the tribal areas by April 30 and completing construction in war-torn parts of the areas by 2018. The process also includes a plan to send representatives from the tribal areas to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly in provincial elections in 2018. The history of the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas is one of resistance, underdevelopment and exploitation at the hands of foreign powers.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan army fights tribal zone insurgency with needles and thread. #FATA #Taliban #skills … via @TheNationalUAE

MIRANSHAH, NORTH WAZIRISTAN // Major General Hassan Azhar Hayat makes an unlikely trailblazer for women’s liberation.

A battled-hardened commander in the Pakistani army, he has spent the last eight years in the rugged tribal zone of North Waziristan, a notorious stronghold of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

From his base in the main town of Miranshah, he speaks about how more than 800 of his men have died in the two-year operation to bring peace to the region.

But as he hops into his car for a guided tour around town, his war-weary tone lightens up as he talks about his new counter-insurgency tactic. It doesn’t involve guns or tanks, but needles, thread and mixing bowls. And the opening salvo will take place at a newly-built school, which will soon be running embroidery and cooking classes.

"We’re hoping to get women to enrol so that they can go on to set up their own boutiques and maybe even cafes," beams Gen Hassan. "Women didn’t used to run businesses in this part of the world – we’re trying to change that."

Whether any local menfolk will try to enrol in the classes remains to be seen. Gun-loving and religiously conservative, North Waziristan’s tribesmen are not known for their interest in sewing, much less for sharing classrooms with women.

All that, though, may now be about to change.

For by introducing these remote corners of Pakistan to the values of the 21st century, the army hopes to challenge the very culture that gave the militants a foothold in the first place.

North Waziristan, a region of jagged, lunar mountains on the Afghan border, is a case in point. It lies in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas – or Fata, the government’s acronym for the vast chunk of north-west Pakistan that has never submitted to their rule, or anyone else’s.

The origins of the Fata stretch back to the 19th century, when even the British Empire found the local Pashtun tribes too fierce to control. Ever since, they have been largely self-governing, with tribal jirgas, or courts, replacing the law of the land.

But when Taliban and Al Qaeda militants flooded over the Afghan border after the US-led invasion in 2001, that hands-off approach helped North Waziristan become a terrorist safe haven. Not only did locals respect the militants’ piety and fighting prowess, their ancient tribal hospitality code forbade them to hand them over to anyone else.

"In the old days, this town was 50 per cent dependent on smuggling and 20 per cent dependent on terror," says Gen Hassan. "People would rent their houses to the jihadists, who’d pay well in dollars from their foreign backers. We want to get people back to humanity again, by making them useful members of society."

Thousands of families suspected of harbouring extremists are also being put through deradicalisation programmes, where religious scholars teach "the true meaning of Islam".

Riaz Haq said...

Federally Administered Tribal Area (Fata) Development Authority has completed seven small dams and 13 small irrigation schemes since 2004 to till date.

Official source told APP here today that as a result of completion of these projects a huge land has been brought under cultivation.

As some of these completed projects are multi-purpose, therefore, a huge population is also benefited by using clean drinking water.

Moreover, the power generation projects have been initiated by Fata Development Authority which will play key role in reducing the energy crisis after their completion.

So far, Fata DA has completed these projects including Dargai Pal Small Dam, SWA, Dandy Small Dam, NWA, Moto Shah Small Dam Mohmand Agency, Sheen Kach Small Dam FR Tank, Zao Small Dam, Khyber Agency,Kand Small Dam, NWA, Ping Small Dam, FR Bannu, Sheen Warsak Irrigation Scheme, SWA, Musa Nikka Irrigation Scheme, SWA, Zeera Letta Irrigation Scheme, SWA, Sadda Weir Lower Kurram, Agency, Walai Killi Bazar Zakha Khel Irrigation Scheme, Khyber Agency,Pir Qayum Drinking Water, Kurram Agency, Makha Zai Irrigation Scheme, Kurram Agency, Zarwam Irrigation Scheme, FR Bannu, Jallandar Irrigation Scheme, Kurram Agency, Shahbaz Sum Irrigation Scheme, Kurram Agency, Shawa Irrigation Scheme, NWA, Maula Khan Sarai Irrigation Scheme, SWA.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan #ImranKhanPrimeMinister announces 10-year mega plan for former #FATA. People in the #tribal area will see unprecedented development over the course of 10 years as Rs100 billion is spent annually on tribal districts.

Taking to Twitter on Monday to announce the plan, Imran said that as per their commitment, a three-week consultative process on a 10-year development plan for the tribal area is being initiated.

He added that people in the tribal area will see unprecedented development over the course of 10 years as Rs100 billion is spent annually on tribal districts.

Earlier, in 2018, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly approved the KP-FATA merger bill with a two-thirds majority.

The landmark bill paved the way to bring tribal borderlands, comprising seven agencies and six Frontier regions into the mainstream.

Tribal people will get representation in the KP Assembly.

The Pakistani PM won the general elections in 2018, under the mandate of eradicating corruption in the country and development of human capital.

Since then he has announced many ambitious projects including a five million homes project that aims to generate six million jobs in five years.

He recently tweeted his futuristic vision for Pakistan's 'vertical cities' - and a law to allow the building of tall and safe building of international standards.

Riaz Haq said...

Around 35,000 security personnel including #PakistanArmy deployed to maintain law and order during first-ever #historic #elections for 16 general seats of #KPK provincial assembly for merged areas of ex #FATA #tribal areas on July 20, 2019. #Pakistan

Officials in KP Government told APP on Friday that a foolproof security plan has been chalked for election and army services were hired to avoid any untoward incident during election process besides provide safe environment to voters.

He said a total of 34,497 security personnel including Army, Khasadar, Levy, police, Frontier Corps and Frontier Constabulary have been deployed in the election areas.

The security personnel would be deployed inside and outside of most sensitive polling stations in all sixteen Constituencies in seven tribal districts including the lone frontier regions.

CCTV Cameras have been installed in every polling station to ward of any eventuality.

Carrying of arms and ammunition besides mobile phones and cameras inside polling stations were banned.

Aviation Surveillance would be made available on Election Day and quick response force and Bomb Disposal Squad Unit to also remain active. The health department staff would also available in hospitals for any emergency situation.

The official said army, civil administration, election commission and other law enforcing agencies are fully prepared for peaceful holding of polling process and maintaining law & order situation.

Strict action would be taken against elements involved in aerial firing on occasion of wining of a candidate.

Riaz Haq said...

Independents grab most seats in #Pakistan's merged #tribal districts’ #elections. Independents swept the elections winning seven seats. The #PTI won five, #JUI-F two and #JI and #ANP won one each. #fataelections

eople in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s newly merged districts cast their votes to elect provincial representatives on Saturday for the first time in history. The unofficial and unverified results have started pouring in.

Independents swept the elections winning seven seats. The PTI won five, JUI-F two and JI and ANP won one each.

Sixteen seats are being contested in seven districts. Of the 285 candidates standing for the election, 202 are independent candidates. There are over 2.8 million registered voters in the area, of which 1.13 million are women.

At 16, the PTI has the most candidates contesting the election from a political party. The JUI-F has 15 candidates, ANP has 14, PPP and JI both have 13 and the PML-N has five candidates. Two women are also contesting the election – the ANP’s Naheed Afridi in PK-106 Khyber and JI’s Malasa Bibi in PK-108 Kurram.

A total of 1,897 polling stations have been set up across the merged districts. Of these, 482 have been reserved for men, 376 for women, and 1,049 are combined. Pakistan Army, police and Frontier Constabulary personnel have been deployed at polling stations across the seven districts.