Thursday, March 27, 2014

FATA under Draconian FCR - Why PTI & Imran Khan Silent?

By: Shah Zalmay Khan
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Akbar Khan is a tribesman from Cheenagai village of Tehsil Mamund in Bajaur Agency (FATA). He belongs to Inam Khwar section of Wara Mamund sub-tribe of the Mamund tribe. One morning he commits a murder. Bajaur Agency's Political administration orders the arrest of Akbar Khan but it is learnt that he has fled the area. Administration orders arrest of his father or brothers but it is learnt they have also fled the area. Administration orders arrest of his uncles and cousins but it is learnt that all of them have left the area. Now administration orders arrest of Akbar Khan's distant relatives belonging to the Inam Khwar section. However, it is learnt that nobody from the particular sub-tribe could be rounded up for some reason. Next the administration orders arrest of anybody from the Wara Mamund sub-tribe. Once that fails too, the administration rounds up anybody from the Mamund tribe (0.2 million people) for a crime committed by one man Akbar Khan.
Confused? Wondering how a random person can be arrested for a crime committed by someone the arrested person may not have even known? Sounds illogical? Insane? Inhumane? Violation of human rights? All of the above?

Well this is no folklore my dear friends - nor a distortion of law by some rogue cop. This is THE LAW. This is the bitter reality, for the past century or so, of the region we know as FATA - Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. This arbitrary arrest procedure is called 'Collective Responsibility' Principle and this insanity is 'legalized' by FCR, the notorious Frontier Crimes Regulationsdrafted by British colonialists in 1901 to further their interests in the borderland of Afghanistan and British India. Under this principle, whole tribes are deprived of their nationality rights (CNIC, Domicile, Passport etc); salaries of govt servants from a particular tribe are stopped; properties of whole tribes are confiscated or bulldozed - over the crime of a single person from the tribe.
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And you are mistaken if you think 'Collective responsibility' is the only instrument of oppression in FCR. Political administration has sweeping powers of arbitrary arrests and imprisonments of upto 3 years (without any crime/charge). The evil beauty is that the same administration plays the multiple roles of 'Cop Judge Jury Executioner'. How? Because the Political Agent heads the administration wing (role of DC/DCO); also heads the Tribal Police called 'Levies Force' (role of DPO/SSP); and at the same time heads the Judiciary (role of District Magistrate). And the Political Agent's decisions/verdicts can only be appealed in the FCR Tribunal - no High Court, no Supreme Court - as neither has jurisdiction in FATA, according to the much trumpeted '1973 ka Aayeen' (1973 Constitution). Even a cursory look at the draconian FCR tells us it is squarely in violation of the United Nation's 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights'. I don't know of a more perfect embodiment of 'Gotham City' in the world, other than FATA. This should not mean that tribesmen's misery begins and ends with FCR alone. FATA tribesmen, in many cases, are discriminated against and treated as 2nd-class Pakistanis.
(And when some journo or intellect-chawal shouts on a TV channel: "They don't accept our constitution" - I feel like breaking some jaws. First ask - "Is the constitution even applicable to FATA?").
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Now a question naturally arises in every sane mind: How on earth can such an illogical, insane, inhumane law violating basic human rights exist in this day and age? Nothing explains this except criminal indifference of the Pakistani state, politicians, judiciary, parliament, intelligentsia and to a great extent the media.
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Why am I writing this blog? To mourn the criminal silence of all the above cited segments of the society? Frankly NO. Because I have absolutely no hopes in them all.
What is the point of writing this blog then? Well it is for the person - of whom the FATA tribesmen had the highest hopes (I use 'had' because the hopes are getting dimmer with each passing day, sadly). Yes its about Imran Khan - and yes its about PTI.
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Why Imran Khan - some may ask. FATA is not under KPK (so PTI has no direct jurisdiction) as it is administered from Islamabad. Why ask Imran Khan and why the 'gila' from PTI?
The answer is: our 'gila' is based on the fact that Imran Khan and PTI have 'not tried enough' on the issue - even in the theatre they have some indirect jurisdiction over. PTI has a presence in National Assembly and Imran Khan's voice is too strong to be ignored - by the govt, the media and the intelligentsia. However, in the 10 months after elections, PTI has surprisingly been unable to use its NA presence positively for any political / administrative / legal reforms in FATA. And Imran Khan himself has not lent his voice - the way he should have - to the cause of political/legal reforms in FATA either. PTI must remember that this issue is no less grave than the issue of drone strikes or militancy because the puzzle of militancy is not complete without taking into account the big bits of political/social/administrative injustices borne by FATA tribesmen.

We especially had high expectations of the young PTI MNAs especially Ayesha Gulalai Wazir, Qaisar Jamal Afridi, Ali Muhammad Khan, Murad Saeed and some other energetic PTI leaders inside/outside the parliament. We expected them to come up with a political reform package for FATA - to help end the draconian laws that have been eating up the tribesmen's will to progress. However, they have not been able to introduce any legislation on the subject so far. Not even a hue & cry - forget about protest or dharna.
The performance of KPK assembly is not encouraging either when it comes to raising voice for these legitimate issues of FATA. PTI could have used KPK govt and assembly effectively to push the Federal govt and Parliament for FATA reforms - alas not happening.
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What is causing this seemingly lagging PTI attitude towards FATA reforms? I hope it is not because some in the old guard of PTI (especially Imran Khan's advisers on FATA affairs) may be confusing the continuation of Jirga system with continuation of FCR. Even if widely believed so, FCR does NOT support the tribal Jirga system - instead it has corrupted the Jirga system beyond recognition. Jirgas appointed under FCR have no real powers and basically serve as puppets in hands of the Political administration. So any notion that FCR is somehow acceptable to the tribes because they want to keep Jirga system intact - is at best unfounded.
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What is the way out? Fortunately enough for PTI - it is not too late, if the party starts taking this issue seriously. Many political and apolitical groups are working on FATA reform packages. Many positive recommendations for reforms have been made by various groups/parties on the subject. However, the whole effort needs a strong political backing and PTI can well be that harbinger of FATA reforms.
To put it in simple words: The tribesmen want Imran Khan's voice for FATA reforms to be as loud as his bold and consistent voice against drone strikes. I am sure thats not asking for too much. FATA deserves to be delivered from the curse that FCR is and for that task - the tribesmen are looking towards PTI.
Dear Imran Khan: PTI supporters from FATA, especially the educated ones are facing a very awkward scenario. Our educated friends and mates from other parties (and neutral ones too) taunt us over PTI's inaction on FCR affairs. We are facing 'Peghor' - they say: "Where is your MESSIAH - why he is silent on your 2nd-class citizenship status in Pakistan"? And 'Peghor', my dear Imran Khan, is perhaps more painful for a tribesman than a sword wound.
Dear IK: We have always stood by you and will continue to stand by you even if you don't hear the tribesmen's plea for FATA reforms - but with broken hearts :(
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The writer is a tribesman from Bajaur Agency (FATA) and tweets at @ZalmayX .
(No official association with PTI)

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Disclaimer: This blog is not an official PTI webpage and is run by a group of volunteers having no official position in PTI. All posts are personal opinions of the bloggers and should, in no way, be taken as official PTI word.
With Regards,
"Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf FATA Volunteers" Team.


6 comments:

  1. Excellent piece... heart touching.. this draconian law must be declared null n void with NO exception plzz.. Salute n fully support ur just cause... Rizwan@pti_craze

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  2. very infomative and heart touching ..infact for the first time i came to know bout FCR n all that... btw what is "peghor" ? what does tht mean ..is it a pushto word?

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    1. 'Peghor' is a Pashto word. Means 'taunting' (taa'na dena)

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    2. Complaining in a way that makes others to feel disgraceful.

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  3. Why don't FATA representatives raise voice about this in the assembly? Why has no one talked about this before? Its been 67 years. Our poor Tribesmen they have given alot and discrimnated the most. :(

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    1. Fata is having nugatory representation as they can not legislate for their own areas. The president contain all the powers along his subordinates like Governor and Political Agent. Secondly, whenever the members open their mouths they are threatened to shut and remain silent. And above all their incompetence also comes as a helping factor in the continuation of inhuman laws under FCR.

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