Politics in Tribal areas, under the umbrella of bureaucracy?
Ihsan Dawar 0092 345 922 32 38
From 12th of August 2011 onwards, when the present government announced the so called reforms in the federally administered tribal areas (FATA), the bureaucracy in FATA have been regularly calling meetings of the political activists working in FATA for various political parties of Pakistan.
Though the aim of the meetings is told by the political administrations as to facilitate the political process and provide a healthy environment to the politicians therein. But inside, there are other purposes of the civil bureaucracy and the first and foremost of them is to keep the political process under their banner and strict control in the guise of patronage and facilitator.
In late 2002, when local governments were introduced for the first time in the history of FATA by the than Governor Syed Iftekhar Hussain shah, the local political administration put a 30% quota for them. As a result of it every political agent in his respective agency seated in the councils a handsome number of those maliks (tribal elders) who were undoubtedly loyal to the political administration.
Those who were elected by the people were either inexperienced young councilors or having poor background who cannot oppose to the selected 30% of the maliks who rather come from strong family back ground having full support of the sitting king (the political agent).
As seen on the ground, most of the selected maliks were also nominated as chairmen of various committees formed to put on the right track various departments functioning in the tribal areas.
Heads of the committees would work under the auspices of political agent and those who opposed to them were discouraged ruthlessly.
Thus with in a little span of one and a half year, the system failed and it was supposed that in the presence of tribal culture and RIWAJ( customs and usages), it was impossible to work with a system like that.
In the same way things are going towards that type of planning after the extension of political parties act to FATA.
FATA is practically a heaven for bureaucracy and the most powerful sect of the government would not like to cease this heaven to exist. At first they will show like a patronage and facilitator but in the long run they will prepare a conspiracy which would prove that there can be no political order in the tribal areas and they will insist on the status quo.
So long as the role of the political parties is not kept independent from the shadows of the existing administration in the tribal areas, the expectations of betterment in the political life of the tribal people is like living in a fool’s paradise. When in 1997,for the first time the then president of Pakistan Late farooq Ahmad Khan Laghari announced adult franchise in FATA, many of the elite group of maliks who were getting a lot of benefits from the administration and the MNAs whome they selected , rose and demanded that adult franchise was not suitable for the people of FATA as they were not trained in the voting process. But the world observed that since than till now, in the last three elections not even a single abnormality was reported which speaks highly on the democratic nature of the tribal people.
This group of the so called elite class argued that FATA is full of weapons and people will shed blood in the polling stations but nothing happened as such.
In the same way a group is trying to hijack the extension of political parties act and keep it under the umbrella of the existing political administration. In this way they will not only block the way of the new comers in the field of politics but also they will keep under their control the whole process with close collaboration of the political administration. The philosophy behind this struggle of the elite class (maliks) is that in the presence of the elected members of parliament and the political leadership, people will become politically conscious and their supremacy would definitely come to an end which they don’t want and they will try to stop it at any cost. Here the actual role of the political parties and their leaders begins.
It is the foremost duty of the political leadership in Pakistan to work for bringing the people of FATA into the mainstream of the country and keep the fresh amendments away from the shadows of the existing administration in the tribal areas.
Only when people will become aware of their rights and political role, they will start taking part in the national politics and it is the only possible solution of growing militancy in the restive FATA.
As a result of the political process in FATA, the area will see a new era which will boost literacy rate, bring industries and factories, provide jobs to the unemployed youth of FATA (now indulged in militant activities) and create awareness in the people of this area which has been living under no proper government for thousands of years. Yet one thing is crystal clear that people of FATA are more democratic and more logical than any other people of the world provided that they are given an opportunity to grow, as they have their strong cultural values and civilization which is more democratic in its nature.
It is perhaps the right time for the political leadership to play their role and save the process from polluting by the few hands who have exploited the simplicity and illiteracy of the people of FATA for hundreds of years. (firstname.lastname@example.org)