FATA has been a semi-autonomous part of the country with its people non-autonomous from all sides: cultural, traditional, religious, demographic, economic, political, legal and administrative. Unfortunately, such exclusiveness has isolated it from the rest of country and the world and that has never been conducive to the socio-economic development of its people in such a globalized century. Since the war against terrorism in 2001, barbarism has ruled it and ruined its only good aspect of peace and worsening the human security at the same time.
Isolation promotes status-quo and that results in under-development and same has been in FATA, which should not be the case now and in future
The law of FATA, Frontier Crimes Regulation, commonly known as FCR was an implementation by the colonial authority to keep it as a buffer, being obsessed with the dead concept of ‘The Great Game’ and Pakistan after its independence, neither fenced its border with Afghanistan because of same families living across the Durand Line, nor went for border management with Afghan government amidst its many challenges in very early days.
Security and Development are very much interrelated, particularly after the globalization of the economy, and have a direct relation. In the previous century, FATA had a very peaceful environment as compared to the situations after Pakistan’s war against terrorism in the beginning of the twentieth century.
When the world has become economically much connected, FATA is not being linked even among its agencies nor with other parts of the country, in true sense and that is obvious from the fact that in some areas of FATA, there is no possibility to use mobile phone services till now in such a socially connected world.
Security and development are seen relevant in terms of mega-initiative of CPEC too, as business hates war and conflicts and opts a peaceful region for its economic activities. So, how can then one expect of the economic success of CPEC for Pakistan with prevailing security issues?
With insecure FATA or any part of Pakistan, is a tool to counter the economic growth and success of CPEC of the country.
Changing world order influences internal dynamics within a country and FATA can be a good pick amongst others, for the international proxies to oppose the evolving order and maintaining the brutal forces of status-quo. Leaving any space in FATA can stimulate a chance for the opportunists to exploit its situations, so, for lasting result-oriented military endeavors, there should be synergic coordination among other institutions to fill the remaining gaps.
Growing economy also provides soft security and indirectly tightens security measures and the development of FATA would also lead it towards permanent security and the stakes of business giants would reach to a limit that they would never compromise on its security, from which local people would likely be benefitted and the opportunities created will be enough to accommodate the local people and will help to prevent the locals of FATA from getting involved in black economy of militancy and other odds.
What is the basic need of FATA, is its peace more than its development and peace would also construct a way for its development, both infrastructural and economic.
But if FATA had become a separate province that used to be one of the slogans and could be listened even now, would it be capable to counter the evolving status-quo and meet the challenges of security, which is must do for its development? And that would have been impossible if FATA’s mainstreaming-led-merging had remained stopped due to any obstacle.
Indigenous people have suffered through terrorism, militancy and military operations a lot, compelling them to be displaced internally as need, so, the most important and immediate need becomes peace, which after countering-terrorism should be sustainable. After military operations and clearing FATA from militants, there is a need to transfer it to peacekeeping and development initiatives by the civilian institutions and for that purpose, provincial institutions of KP can be more efficient than those presently in FATA or in the separate province of Fata, as was preferred by some voices.
FATA used to be a buffer zone in so-called ‘Great Game’ in colonial rule and then proxy land, especially after 2003. Now, with the changing global politics if its issues are not resolved timely, its value as proxy land because of strategic location would prolong the miseries of people, who have already suffered a bleak decade of violence and that would also be a headache for the entire country.
FATA, being buffer zone and proxy land should no more remain same and the efforts and sacrifices of military operations should not be let, going in vain.