The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are governed through the 1901 Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), which was enacted by the British to promote their own interests. This system was once lauded as a success and liked by the tribesmen. However, at present the system is widely seen as authoritarian—both in its form and essence—resulting in socioeconomic and sociopolitical stagnation of the area. It has engendered serious problems relating to governance, social change, human rights and democratization.
After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, FATA’s special status was given constitutional protection and no serious efforts were made to allow for the organic growth of this important document. Hence the entire area remains outside the mainstream. The apathy of successive governments towards FATA could be blamed for the chaos that reigns there today. Although some modifications were made to the FCR, they did not seriously change its essence.
Since 1947, the FCR has been amended on 11 different occasions. However, all these amendments have been devoid of real substance. For instance, the word “commissioner” was substituted for “court of the commissioner” and the definition of the word “governor” was added to it in 1997. Likewise, in 1962, punishment by confiscation of property in case of conviction under sections 302 or 306 of the Pakistan Penal Code (XLV of 1860) was added to the FCR.