This speech was delivered at a workshop in Area Studies Centre, Peshawar on 12th March 2008.

Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen the topic for this Workshop i.e The role of peace and democracy in FATA is an interesting and well thought out subject under the present environments. The ill thought out invasion of Afghanistan by the forces of erstwhile USSR in 1979 pushed this region into a phase of destabilization which is still continuing. Pakistan after suffering some setbacks initially remained largely stabilized. However with the complex situation now developing in Afghanistan the fall out into Pakistan is far greater than in any previous situations. The threat of Extremism and Terrorism beside its Worldwide Effects has started threatening the State of Pakistan. Since the first fall out effects from situation in Afghanistan are felt in FATA because of its Geographic contiguity with that country therefore discussion of Subject of this Workshop is indeed a very pertinent enterprise and we should all be very grateful to Peshawar Area Study Centre for having arranged this Workshop and for having selected this subject.

 In order to have useful discussion one could follow any methodology according to ones understanding of the problem. The one I have followed is as shown:-
·       Analysis of the Role of Peace and Democracy in FATA
·       The Present Setup in FATA
·       Desirability and Achievability of  the Objective
·       The Way Forward
 Analysis of Role of Peace and Democracy in FATA

FATA is a unique area with a unique system of administration wound around local customs and traditions. They have seen many large armies passing through their areas and they have stood for their traditions and have never been over awed by these super powers passing through their areas. They have always engaged these powers both in combat and negotiations. Pakistan and for that matter its Army is presently engaged in some such efforts. This struggle is now shaping into a threat to the whole Federation of Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan has only to blame itself for having failed to reform this area for last sixty years. If  we look at last sixty years history of this area we will find that the people of this area have made tremendous sacrifices for the people of Pakistan and in return what have they got is more poverty for the poor people and few individuals have become richer in the garb of Smugglers, Drug Barons or Criminal Gang Leaders. The common man has definitely not benefited from the present system. On the other hand if we look at the Government side it is a fact that the Government of Pakistan cannot discharge its International obligations under the present system. Hence it is in the interest of both i.e. the people of the area and the Government of Pakistan to look for ways to bring peace and democracy in the tribal areas of Pakistan. However it is here that the most vexing question arises that whether democracy is really compatible with the value system prevalent in tribal area where the gun culture is part of local traditions and where decisions are made through the barrel of gun. This is the question which needs to be debated in this forum.

The Present System in FATA
The present system in FATA is based on the then requirement of Imperial British to keep their Lines of Communications open through the tribal areas to Afghanistan for their colonial ambitions and at the same time dovetailing the requirement of the local tribes who wanted to keep their own system of administration based on their local traditions. This suited both the tribes and the Imperial British. The Imperial British with the consent of the tribes codified this into a system called the FCR. The Government of Pakistan has no extra territorial ambitions towards Afghanistan     therefore this system does not suit Pakistan’s national interests. The aims and objectives of Government of Pakistan should be to bring this area in to the mainstream of Pakistan and to develop this area  like the rest of Pakistan After all the tribal people are own people and we owe it to them to bring them in to the main stream. Dovetailing their requirements with our requirements should not be such an uphill task. We have simply wasted our time. We have simply been sleeping over this problem for last sixty years and now when this area has come in to World Focus we are running helter and skelter to change the system over night. Bringing Peace and Democracy in FATA is a long and overdue requirement but it can not be achieved over night.
 Desirability and Achievability of Desired Objective
There is no difference of opinion on the desirability of having peace and democracy in the tribal area because that is the only way forward in today’s world. However people do have reservations about the achievability of this objective in the present environments of FATA. Such people argue that Peace and Democracy basically are not compatible with a society which is based on gun culture. The basic structure and traditions of the area are based on use of force and threat of use of force and that these people are not prepared to change their traditions so where is the space for peace and democracy in such a society. These people further argue that democracy is always based on tolerance which they think is lacking in tribal areas. These people neglect to see that Pushtun society is individualist in nature and the hold of Maliks in this society is not as strong as the Waderas of Sind or Choudhrys of Punjab and Sardars of Baluchistan and the institutional hold of elders in this society would rather help in bringing peace and democratic values in the society rather than opposing it. The example of NWFP will falsify these presumptions. This Province was governed through the same FCR. People have the same cultural and ethnic background including the gun culture. Yet the province was ready for governance through a democratic system as early as 1920 but it was delayed till 1931 on such pretexts. The real motive was that the Congress Party that was dominating at the Central Scene was worried about the interests of small percentage of Hindus living in this province. Today we are faced with the same situation and vested interest groups and various mafias are frightening the government and preventing the government from introducing reforms that can bring peace and democracy to tribal areas.

The Way Forward
The only way forward to bring peace and prosperity to tribal areas is to introduce democracy in the tribal area. Of course this can not be done without working an alternative system of administration which incorporates the local traditions and at the same time has sufficient checks and balances and enforcement mechanism to implement a democratic dispensation. The tribes as per present agreement have acceded to the State of Pakistan and not to the Government of Pakistan because the system of Government of Pakistan is not acceptable to them. However if the Government of Pakistan works out a system of governance which incorporates their traditions like making the Jirga as part of their judicial system and evolves a policing system based on Levies and so on and so forth; arrangements which are acceptable to both the people and the government. It is thought there should be no difficulty in implementing it after obtaining the concurrence of the tribes either through a Grand Jirga or through a referendum. In fact the Government has worked out a complete package of reforms consisting of Structural Reforms, Administrative Reforms, Financial Reforms, Judicial Reforms and Reorganisation of Law Enforcement Agencies. Since there are mafias and vested interest groups therefore the Government would like to keep these reforms confidential till some time. The Government started implementing these reforms in a camouflaged manner and election of Agency Councillors was the first step. These vested interest groups torpedoed this effort and got the whole administration changed including the Governor. Beside these administrative measures the evolutionary process of our province from the status of Punjab Irregular Frontier Region in to an independent province will be both interesting and instructive for our study in this seminar. The great services of Sir Sahibzada Abdul Qayum are not to be lauded only but need to be studied also. His  insistence on making of Islamia College and for  ensuring the presence of Personality like Haji Sahib of Turangzai on foundation laying ceremony shows his focus and tact. We all know that education travels both through Islamia Colleges and along the Road Infrastructural. This is the key to change. However societal changes do not occur over nights. One needs to be patient and persevering. Change is inevitable and will take place.
To conclude, Gentlemen the pursuit of the goal of Role of peace and democracy in FATA is an ideal and achievable objective. In fact this may be the only way to bring peace and prosperity to this very highly under developed region and its people.