Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Criminology

Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA): Impacts of Militarization and War Crimes on Tribal Women and Children

Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Criminology

Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA): Impacts of Militarization and War Crimes on Tribal Women and Children

Article excerpt

Introduction

Pakistan semi-autonomous border region Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) has been one of the most volatile border regions. Today's FATA, Pak Afghan border areas played a very important role since British colonial times, used as a buffer zone between Russian Czars and Great Britain during their "Great Game" both imperialist colonial powers were preserving their prosperous territories. Later tribal areas were again used in a "Cold War" converted to "Hot War" between two super powers in Afghanistan in 1979. Proxy war was fought on the expense of tribal people and their lands. After dismemberment of USSR, with no cold war or hot war, FATA already trained, prepared and used in a ten years long war was converted into a training ground for Jihadis/militants to fight inside and outside the state. In this capitalist and communist war, narratives are constructed about tribal people and culture (jihadi, warring and militant) that even today it's difficult to challenge or change. However, it is also ironic that conflict going on in FATA and war crimes committed against non-combatant such as women and children is absent from any academic debate at national and international level nor tribal people are allowed to speak or participate due to Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) and Pakhtunwali (code of cultural norms of Pakhtuns in which women have no voice and representation). It is pertinent to generate a discourse and discuss local narratives about the conflict and war crimes that is affecting women and children. An attempt is made from emic and etic understanding to discuss the impact of armed conflict and war crimes in semi-autonomous FATA nowadays plagued with non-state actors threatening the very state of Pakistan and affecting lives of women and children living in this conflict-ridden border.

FATA is mountainous region, made up of seven "political agencies' Bajaur, Khyber, Kurram, Mohmand, Orakzai, North Waziristan and South Waziristan along with six smaller zones, called "frontier regions'(FRs) total area of 27,220 sq.km, which separate the tribal agencies from the rest of the country. FATA is located between the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and the settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Its estimated population is 3.17 million out of a total Pakistani population of nearly 170 million (according to unofficial estimate it has reached 7 million) and share nearly 2253.081 km (1400 miles) of border with Afghanistan (FATA Development Authority, 2013). FATA is the poorest, least developed part of Pakistan. Literacy rate is only 17.42% and among women its hardly 3% women, per capita income is roughly $250 and 66% of population lives beneath the poverty line. With hardly 3% land holdings, its 50% population is involved in agriculture or trade, women and children actively participate in agriculture activities. State negligence in terms of development and this border forbidding terrain isolate tribals from markets, health and education services, and many outside positive influences (FATA Civil Secretariat, 2014).

British during colonial period had accorded a skewed administrative and political status to FATA since 1849. British controlled the area through a combination of effective Political Agents, Frontier Crimes Regulations and tribal elders, while leaving the people with their traditions and cosmetic independence.. The Political Agents under FCR were granted huge powers of executive and judicial authority such as the magisterial powers to institute a Sarkari Jirga (Government Council of Elders) of appointed tribal elders. They had the power of establishing or demolition of villages of certain clans as a reward or punishments. Military forces established by them could blockade tribes, banish them in severe cases and regulate their village guesthouses. Thus, he under FCR can award any punishment without a due process of law and right of appeal. In criminal cases, the only right of defendant was to object to the members designated to Jirga (Spain, 1985). …

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