Archive for the ‘Federally Administered Tribal Areas’ Category

Muhammad Reports from Pakistan, March 31, 2008

March 30, 2008

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

During last few days I have missed you a lot. I hope you and your team at the Peace and Freedom will be alright. Some interesting developments have been taking place in Pakistan nowadays.

The most interesting event is the announcement of prime minister Gilani about the revoking of Frontier Crime Regulation.

The tribal areas are being governed through Frontier Crime Regulation.

The prime minister announcement has created legal vacuum in the tribal areas.

It is interesting to note that Taliban militants have welcomed the announcement as they think now the tribal areas will be handed over to them. A political observer in his comment stated that the authors of the prime minister’s speech to the National Assembly on Saturday probably had no understanding of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and the laws that govern it. Why else would Yusuf Raza Gilani announce the abolition of the Frontier Crimes Regulation without actually knowing what the 1901 British law is going to be replaced with and more importantly: what would be its implications?

Little wonder then that at least two of the PPP’s allies, both from the NWFP  the Awami National Party and the JUI (F) — came out with reservations.

The ANP acknowledged that while its leadership had been consulted about  “generalities”, it had not been consulted on the specifics of FCR, which, according to the ANP’s provincial president, Afrasiab Khattak, is the “most investigated and non-implemented law”.

The ANP, he said, would like to retain the FCR with some amendments, something that the JUI (F) and a vast majority of the tribesmen would also like to see.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman told Dawn he too was not consulted and warned that any such move would entail grave implications for Pakistan.

The FCR presently in vogue in the seven federally administered tribal regions and six Frontier Regions basically explains relationship between the state and the tribes on the one hand through an indirect form of governance; and on the other lays down procedure for dealing with inter-tribal matters.

But the British-era law has been coming in under a lot of criticism from human rights activists, the civil society as well as a section of the tribal people.

The very draconian nature of some sections of the law, chiefly the Frontier Crimes Regulation 40, a preventive law pertaining to good conduct that has been grossly misused by the political administration to keep people under detention for longer periods of time than the stipulated three years for peace-keeping it provides for on non-acceptance of sureties by the accused.

The other most controversial sections of the law pertain to collective responsibility and territorial responsibility.Section 21 (Collective Responsibility) empowers the administration to direct the confiscation of all or any member of a tribe and all or any property belonging to them or anyone of them, if the tribe, or any section or member of such a tribe, are found acting in a hostile manner towards the government or towards people in the country.

Section 22 (territorial responsibility) empowers the administration to impose a fine on an entire village if there appear to be good reasons to believe that the inhabitants of the village have connived with, or abetted in the commission of an offence or failed to render assistance in their power to discover the offender or to effect their arrest.

Article 246 and 247 of the Constitution deals with the tribal areas — both the federally administered as well as the provincially administered tribal areas. The Constitution also states that the parliament cannot legislate for the tribal regions unless the president so directs.

The irony is that legislators from Fata can take part in legislation for the whole country but not for their own regions. The power to repeal or introduce any regulation in the tribal regions thus rests with the president.Analysts warn that any move to repeal or introduce any regulation in the tribal regions would require delicate handling.

What happened in the provincially administered Malakand region following the Supreme Court’s verdict in 1995 that had declared PATA regulation as ultra vires of the Constitution is now for all to see.That decision created a legal vacuum in Malakand and led to an armed rebellion by Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat Muhammadi calling for the enforcement of shariah to replace the defunct PATA regulation  “a problem that continues to haunt the government in Swat.”

Analysts point out to Fata’s special status, its accession to Pakistan and the treaties that Pakistan inherited from the British Empire as a dominion state, an issue also highlighted by Maulana Fazlur Rehman in his speech to the National Assembly on Saturday.

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

It requires very delicate handling. Changes in the FCR are the need of the hour. But let’s not create a Malakand-like situation in Fata where the state authority has already been challenged by different militant groups.

Any drastic decision is a sure recipe for disaster, cautioned one senior government official with previous experience in the tribal region.

Dear Sir, situation in tribal areas is still tense as terrorists and security forces have been exchanging fire regularly. The areas are in the grip of terror and fear.

Thank you very much,

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas, Pakistan


Muhammad Reports from Pakistan Just Before Elections

February 17, 2008

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom,

Dear Sir,

I have felt a lot of happiness after seeing update Peace and Freedom blog. Thanks God you are alright.

Pakistan is going to election tomorrow, but situation in tribal areas and other parts of the country is still tense.

A Pakistan man rides his bicycle decorated with electoral posters ...
 Pakistan man rides his bicycle decorated with electoral posters in Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2008. Pakistani’s will go to the polls in parliamentary elections on Monday Feb. 18.
(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

I want to present thank and gratitude to you for your kindness with the people of tribal areas. It is due to your positive approach that now government of Pakistan has changed its attitude about terrorists to some extents. The people of tribal areas fully recognize your role in war against terrorism.

The time is not far away when the terrorists will be flush out of the tribal areas. You will be invited to Bajaur Agency, tribal areas for presenting you “Award from the Poor”. A lot of thanks.

Situation in Pakistan is still fluid. Pakistani media has been expressing apprehension about the elections. Daily Times, owner of which is the federal minister, in its editorial stated that shadows keep falling on the elections even in the last hours before the polling begins.

Pakistan's Election Commission staff sit in a van as they ...
 Pakistan’s Election Commission staff sit in a van as they carry election material for the upcoming parliamentary elections, in Peshawar February 17, 2008. Pakistan’s parliamentary elections will be held on February 18.

The attorney general is allegedly caught on tape telling someone that the government is going to rig the elections.

Ten terrorists linked to the Taliban are caught in Karachi ready to blow up several polling stations with massive amounts of explosive material.

A thousand people, all Afghans, are arrested in Peshawar and accused of “trouble-making”. Eighty thousand troops are deployed to protect the polling stations, one-third of which have been declared dangerous.

This is going to be a very different election from past ones. It is happening mostly on TV. It is mired in rumours of dhaandli or rigging whose evidence keeps popping up here and there.

The political parties, scared of being short-changed, are threatening rejection of polls and violent agitation, but with a clear subtext that it might hurt their interests.

Every party is claiming exaggerated gains at the polls since any modest assessment might make the voters turn away. The incumbent PMLQ began by claiming 150 seats in the National Assembly together with its allies, to come down to 110 on the eve of polls, till some unnamed PMLQ leaders are being quoted in the press as ready to accept the PPP and the PMLN government after the polls.

The real threat to the 2008 elections remains a low voters’ turnout.

The PPP has a sympathy wave welling up for it. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that it will sweep in rural Sindh, thus sharing the province with urban MQM. It is estimated to win 35-40 out of 61 National Assembly seats in Sindh. One analyst says it will also win 40-50 out of the 148 seats in Punjab, 10-15 of NWFP’s 35, 3 of Balochistan’s 19, to make up a total of 100-108. This is possible because the PPP is the only national party with votes in all the four provinces. With this kind of total it will certainly be the front-runner for putting together the government at the centre.

Significantly, the party’s mood is suitably conciliatory and it threatens no one, not even President Pervez Musharraf.

The PMLN is the comeback party in Punjab. If the PMLQ suffers it will do so because of the ability of the PMLN to bounce back, although to write off the incumbent PMLQ would be unwise since it is fielding some very strong candidates despite defections and its own policy to undercut some of its candidates — after giving them tickets — through independents.

The 53 seats in South Punjab are under threat from the PMLN which is also set to win handsomely in Lahore and Faisalabad, the second and third largest cities in the country. One feels that Mr Nawaz Sharif is reconciled to letting the PPP rule in Islamabad and handle President Musharraf while he gets Punjab on the basis of all the tools he will have handy in the National Assembly to play the kingmaker.

The rise of the ANP in the NWFP is bound to fill the vacuum left behind by a bickering MMA.

Out of all the parties, it is the ANP which is campaigning bravely after being fatally targeted twice by the terrorists. If the voters come out the party is sure to increase its presence in the provincial assembly as well as have enough numbers in the National Assembly to form meaningful alliances.

The PPP doesn’t have a good past record with the ANP, but the new orientation in both parties is to disembarrass themselves of their old identity markers and seek reconciliation.

Just as the PPP began making overtures to the MQM in Sindh right after the arrival of Ms Bhutto from exile, the big party is bound to ride together with the ANP and allow it to form the government in the NWFP.

The PPP was in the process of discussing power-sharing with the PMLN on Friday. Mr Nawaz Sharif has stiffened his rhetoric on the presumed basis of negotiations, but this could be mere electoral pyrotechnics to win votes.

He wants President Musharraf ousted and he wants the dismissed judges restored. (His wife has promised a gathering that her party would replace President Musharraf with Dr AQ Khan.)

No doubt the parties will have to develop the requisite measure of flexibility after the elections to work in double harness at the centre and in Punjab. There is evidence that they don’t want to revert to the cloak-and-dagger days of the 1988 assemblies when Punjab spies called Midnight Jackals had tried to topple the PPP at the centre.

At no time in the past have local and foreign observers been forced to keep their fingers crossed as now. There are far too many elements for comfort today who would wish to see the elections go wrong. Nor is the world too reassured of Pakistan’s real intentions after it returns to democracy.

It is ironic to note that women in the tribal areas have been barred from casting their votes. A report said that about 424,332 of the 1,524,284 registered women voters from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and frontier regions will be deprived of their right to vote following direct threats from local Taliban.

Local Taliban had also distributed pamphlets some weeks ago in the FR and Bajuar, Kurram and Mohmand agencies warning the tribesmen of bombing or “severe punishment” if they did not keep their women away from poling stations.

On Thursday, Lashkar-e-Islami chief Mangal Bagh said women would not be allowed to vote in two constituencies of Khyber Agency – NA-45 in Jamrud subdivision and NA-46 in Bara subdivision. Women’s participation in voting was against the tribal traditions, he said, and the families and tribes whose women would vote would be punished “in line with tribal traditions”.

Dear Sir, please remember that you are the hero of millions of tribesmen as you have done a lot for them. You have played a very positive role in liberating them from terrorists.

Again thank you very much,

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,
Tribal Areas Pakistan

What Next Pakistan? 

U.S. Frustrated by bin Laden, Musharraf in Pakistan Tribal Areas

September 7, 2007

By Bill Gertz
“Inside the Ring”
The Washington Times
September 7, 2007

Pentagon counterterrorism officials are growing more and more frustrated with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf over his continued refusal to allow U.S. forces and personnel to conduct military and paramilitary strikes against al Qaeda terrorists in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

The 10,507-square-mile region bordering Afghanistan is one place al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his key aides are thought to be hiding.

The Pakistani leader is refusing to permit U.S. attacks because of pressure from Islamists in his own government.

Read it all at: