An independent think-tank

Building infrastructure and institutions is imperative to restore peace in FATA

ICPVTR Director Dr. Rohan Gunaratna and PIPS Director Muhammad Amir Rana presiding over the session.

The deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Pakistani tribal areas can be addressed by building infrastructure and institutions there.

This was stated by Syed Adnan Ali Shah, PhD fellow and in-charge South Asia Desk at ICPVTR, Singapore, while delivering his lecture on “An overview of militancy in FATA” at PIPS on January 23, 2009. Before his lecture Director International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) Dr. Rohan Gunaratna, who led his delegation to PIPS, appreciated the PIPS efforts to initiate research on conflict and security issues in Pakistan.Mr. Adnan explained how Taliban militants had targeted the local administrative system since their uprising. More than 600 Maliks, a key link between the government and the tribes in the decades-old administrative setup in FATA, had been killed by Taliban until now. He also elaborated the political/administrator structure of FATA and said a political agent is basically head of the agency; there are 7 agencies in FATA which work as districts. Political agent deals with the tribal elders and is answerable to the governor NWFP who is further answerable to the president.

The Maliks are the real link between political link and the tribes. One may say that they were the real beneficiaries of this political agent’s system. In post 9/11 scenario Taliban militants tried to eliminate the existing system and feeling Maliksmain hurdle in their way started targeting them. Eventually they have been successful in breaking the linkage between political agent and the tribes.

The volatile security situation in FATA is now forcing tribal people to migrate to other areas. There has been constant pattern of immigration from tribal areas particularly to Peshawar, Bannu, DI Khan, Rawalpindi-Islamabad and Karachi. Talking about education and infrastructure of FATA he said there is not even a single university there. There might be one [functional] degree college in one agency and approximately every agency has four hundred thousand populations.

While responding to a question why is this problem difficult for us to solve he explained that there are fifteen to sixteen million Pashtun in Afghanistan and twenty six to twenty seven million in Pakistan. So Pashtun in Pakistan are greater in numbers and despite the fact that these Pashtun are divided by Pak–Afghan border the links and the relation between them is there. The Pakistani Pashtun take it their responsibility to help their Afghan Pashtun brothers when the foreign forces have invaded them.

Describing types of Taliban he said that there are two types of Taliban, Afghani Taliban and the other is Pakistani Taliban. Afghani Taliban are organized and hierarchical in structure. They have good command and control system and are still operating in Afghanistan to liberate it from foreign occupation. On the other hand Pakistani Taliban are an indigenous phenomenon. We saw it in 2004.  Initially they were not organized, every tribe had its own Taliban and they had no coordination with each other. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was formed in December 2007 by Baitullah Mehsud to consolidate all these Taliban groups into one group with a 3-point agenda to:

1-Liberate Afghanistan;
2-Fight against Pakistani security forces;

But there are still some Taliban groups in FATA which don’t believe in fighting against Pakistani security forces and are just focusing on fighting in Afghanistan. At the end he proposed some solutions that are essential to bring peace in the region. He said that we have to improve infrastructure and build institutions in the region. Secondly we have to support tribal elders because they have always remained pro-government. The military operation should continue until the required objectives are achieved.

A question and answer session followed his lecture.