Declining Influence of Pakistan Tribal Elders

The Tribal Elders' Role
During the British rule of undivided India, the tribal elders in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan made deals with the British government that were generally adhered to and kept the peace in the autonomous tribal region. This system continued after Pakistan's independence for several decades.
However, as the madrassahs proliferated in Pakistan's tribal areas since the early 1980s, there seems to be a new dynamic affecting the traditional role and influence of the FATA elders. The radical young graduates of these madrassahs are not willing to accept the traditional role of the elders and their decisions in all matters. There have been many instances of tensions reported between the local tribal elders and the Taleban on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghan border. In December 2007, AP reported that suspected Islamic militants fatally shot eight tribal leaders involved in efforts to broker a cease-fire between security forces and insurgents in Pakistan's volatile northwest.Last year, there were also several reports of clashes between the tribal elders and the Al-Qaeda operatives.

Madrassahs
Most of these madrassahs are boarding schools that provide free food, clothing, housing and education to the mostly poor kids in FATA, the Frontier and Baluchistan provinces. So, the basic reason for these institutions to exist is really the overwhelming needs for education and social services that the Government of Pakistan is unable to fulfill. The reason these institutions proliferated since the 1980s has its roots in the massive US/Saudi backing of the Afghan resistance against the Soviet invasion. The incentive for the US was to recruit and prepare fighters for "Jihad" in Afghanistan against the Russians. A key part of the education at these madrassahs included indoctrination and military training of the students which continues to this day. It is for this reason that the US now considers these institutions as purveyors of terrorist training. The changes in Pakistan's tribal areas set in motion during the 1980s to fight the Soviets are still affecting the entire South Asian region including Afghanistan, the Middle East and the world. Both Al-Qaeda and the Taleban movements have their roots in the Afghan war and the US support of it against the Soviet Union.

The Taleban & Al-Qaeda
The Taleban and Al-Qaeda have both become part of the tribal society in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They are a second power center after the tribal elders. And, I believe, there is an ongoing power struggle between them. It is this power struggle that is largely responsible for the scuttling of several peace agreements that the Musharraf government made with the tribal elders in Waziristan region. It is this situation that makes it difficult for Pakistan to do what the US has done in Al-Anbar province in Iraq with the support of the tribal sheikhs there.

Ideas for Solution
The real solution has to be political and diplomatic in the long term. It's absolutely essential that the fundamental issues of poverty that attract people to the madrassahs are addressed. This will require massive spending over a relatively short period of time. The US and Saudi Arabia are quite capable of such spending, as they have demonstrated during the Afghan resistance against the Soviets. In the meanwhile, both the Pakistani and the US governments must do everything possible to re-establish the role and influence of the tribal elders that want to make peace. At the same time, the war against the radicals challenging the authority of the elders must be conducted to avoid mass casualties of the ordinary folks in FATA. Indiscriminate bombing will not win any hearts and minds. It will only stoke the fires of revenge for a long time to come.

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Here's an Express Tribune story on Pak and US efforts to develop FATA:

Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani inaugurated a US-funded road project in South Waziristan Agency on Monday — a move that may indicate easing of tensions between the estranged allies.

The development is being seen as a significant one as the army chief has recently distanced himself from being associated with the Americans. Furthermore, Kayani inaugurated the Tank-Gomal-Wana Road amid reports that Washington had shown willingness to accept some of Islamabad’s demands, including an apology for last year’s Salala air strikes.

A Pakistani official described the development as ‘positive’ saying despite recent hiccups in relations between the two countries, the US continued to fund important projects in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

“The US is proud to partner with the government of Pakistan in rebuilding key roads and infrastructure in Fata,” said Karen Freeman, acting director of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission in Pakistan.

“We believe our joint efforts will bring commerce, jobs, trade and long-term security to this important region of Pakistan,” Freeman added.

The road connects to the US-funded 110 kilometre Tank-Makin Road, which was completed earlier this year at Kaur. The road will provide the people of Murtaza Kot, Nilikatch, Gomal Zam, Tanai, Tiarza and Wana in the South Waziristan Agency access to Tank, DI Khan and other parts of Pakistan, a statement issued by the US Embassy said.

USAID has contributed over $260 million for roads and other key infrastructure projects in Fata.

Meanwhile, the army chief attempted to strike a delicate balance when he suggested the military was compelled to launch an operation against militants in Waziristan.

However, after flushing out terrorists in the area, the army’s focus has now become centered on maintaining peace in the area by concentrating on rehabilitation and reconstruction activities, the army chief pointed out.

In a meeting with tribal elders, Kayani insisted that no army wanted to fight within its own borders.

“The army is concentrating on health and education facilities,” he added.

He also inaugurated Spinkai Ragzai Cadet College and reviewed the security situation besides ongoing developmental work in South Waziristan.

According to APP, Kayani said the army was deployed in the area on the demand of locals and would stay till the completion of development projects.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/395817/kayani-initiates-usaid-project-in-s-waziristan/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Dawn story on US AID projects in FATA:

The United States Agency for International Development will construct 200-kilometre roads in South and North Waziristan agencies in addition to undertaking longer term interventions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s education and health sectors.

Andrew Sisson, the agency’s mission director in Pakistan, told Dawn that the USAID had already constructed over 200km roads in South Waziristan and it was planning construction of additional 200km roads primarily in North Waziristan Agency and some in South Waziristan Agency.

“It (road construction) is an excellent investment in opening the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in terms of economy and business to the rest of the country,” he said.

The US agency, he said, had provided $201 million for roads linking North Waziristan and South Waziristan to the rest of Pakistan. He said that USAID was also planning to provide more resources for roads directly to the Fata Civil Secretariat later this year.

Similarly, the USAID signed an agreement in October last year for disbursing funds for the construction of irrigation network downstream Gomal Zam dam that, he said, would irrigate 120,000 cultivable acres, benefiting thousands of farm families. Some $9 million for construction irrigation network, he said, had been released to the Water and Power Development Authority in December last.

Mr Sisson said that investment in this part of Pakistan (KP and Fata), especially for education, health, infrastructure, community level activities, irrigation and business development, remained ‘a very high priority’ of the US government.

“We are budgeting for the future..we are hopeful that the funds would come after approval by our Congress,” said Mr Sisson, adding that the Obama administration was committed to maintaining high level of aid to Pakistan even during this rocky period (of relationship).

“Despite our relations, our aid levels are high,” he said, adding that his organisation would continue building schools in Fata and KP, which was a very important part of the bilateral relationship.

He said that their assistance to Pakistan was in the interest of the people of both the countries and that it had been achieving great results. The USAID-funded projects, according to him, put 400MW to the grid last year, some 500MW would be added to the system next year, and one million children went to schools constructed by the agency over the past few years.

“We want Pakistan to succeed, to be more stable and have a more prosperous economy,” he said, adding that their interest in Pakistan would continue no matter who was in power in the US.

He said that apart from funding five major interventions in the energy sector the US was looking into making other investments to help Pakistan overcome its energy sector. “We are in discussion with the government for carrying out feasibility studies for Diamer-Bhasha dam,” said the USAID director.

He said that the USAID was also assisting the Fata secretariat and the KP to help build their capabilities. Justifying delays in the execution of infrastructure projects in the KP and Fata, Mr Sisson said “Even in the United States complicated infrastructure projects don’t go on schedule and that’s very true in Pakistan (as well).”

He said that some of the infrastructure projects were being carried out in tough regions where security formed a major impediment to the on time completion of projects.

About corruption-free use of USAID funds, he said that except for two cases in which the USAID Office of Inspector General had collaborated with National Accountability Bureau, a majority of the projects had seen apt and honest use of funds.


http://dawn.com/2012/01/26/focus-on-rebuilding-roads-in-waziristan-2/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt of The News story about Parachinar in Kurram Agency in FATA:

The government and local administration would take affective steps to maintain peace and for this purpose elders were also being taken into confidence, he added.



During interaction with the elders and other segments of the society, Governor Masood Kausar said the government could not maintain peace and stability without the cooperation of local population.



He said the government was serious to build schools and roads and provide better health and education facilities for which peace was a must and that could not be maintained without sincere support of all tribes. “Kurram Agency should be a role model for the rest of tribal agencies in Fata and it cannot be achieved without support of local people,” he said and warned that troublemakers would not be provided space to derail peace process in the area.



During his visit to Parachinar Public School, Degree College for Women and Sports Complex, he said no efforts would be spared to impart quality education to the future builders of the nation and healthy activities like games would be encouraged.



He announced provision of computers to the college and laboratory equipment to the school. He was informed that about 1,244 girls were enrolled in the college and 961 were studying at the school.



However, the institutions were short of teaching staff which the governor promised to overcome. The girl students asked the governor to fill all vacant posts in the college and regularise contract teachers. He also laid foundation-stone for construction of a Polytechnic Institute and inspected its site and directed that work on the project be accelerated.



The governor also inaugurated the new building of Parachinar Press Club and administered oath to its newly elected office-bearers. He was generous enough to announce Rs200,000 for the Press Club, Rs50,000 each for the winner and runner-up cricket teams at the sports complex and thousands more for the schoolchildren presenting PT show and other performances. The governor also held an open Katcheri to listen to the grievances of the people.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-141696-Governor-says-situation-improving-in-Fata
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a BR story on Munda dam in Mehmend agency of FATA:

LAHORE: The European Union (EU) has provided 1.2 million Euros as grant to conduct climate change impact assessment study in Swat basin for Munda Dam multipurpose project, located in Mohmand Agency of the Federally Administered Areas (FATA).



A joint venture comprising two renowned firms namely AHT of Germany and NESPAK of Pakistan has also been appointed as consultants to carry out the studies, said Raghib Shah, Chairman of Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) here Sunday.



He said Munda Dam project was of immense importance for socio-economic development and poverty alleviation, as it would ensure water for irrigated agriculture, control floods and generate low-cost hydel electricity.



Thanking the EU for its support, he said, the grant would help implement this vital project.



At present, detailed engineering design and the tender documents of Munda Dam project were being prepared, for which French development agency AFD had committed to provide 11 million Euros to WAPDA, he maintained.



Underlining the need of foreign assistance for completion of the projects, he hoped that the EU would also provide financial support for construction phase of Munda Dam project.



The Chairman said that Munda Dam Project would store 1.29 million acre feet (MAF) of water for irrigation, while power generation capacity stands at 740 mega watt (MW), contributing about 2.4 billion units of electricity to the national grid every year.



Benefits of the project have been estimated at Rs. 20.2 billion per annum, he added.


http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/108-pakistan-top-news/90025-12mn-euros-for-munda-dams-climate-study-raghib-shah-.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's PakTribune on promoting livestock revolution in FATA:

PESHAWAR: To bring white revolution and fulfill people's meat demands, the government has decided to launch two mega projects for uplift of livestock sector in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) areas shortly to bolster income of tribal people especially of women folk.One of the mega projects is “Calves Fattening Project” that would be launched this month to fulfill the demands of quality meat of the ever growing population of the country. Official sources in Fata Livestock and Dairy Development told APP on Sunday that Calves Fattening Project would be launched in Frontier Regions of Peshawar, Kohat and Khyber, Kurram and Orakzai Agencies this month and would later be extended to other tribal agencies. He said it was a two-year project that would be completed with an estimated cost of Rs. 68 million.

A registered farmer/livestock owner, having cows or buffalos' calves (male) between 10 to 50 numbers would be provided free of cost technical support in formation of farms houses besides medicines, insemination, vaccination and fodder's services at their doorsteps, he added. It will be mandatory for the registered beneficiary livestock owner/farmers to look after and keep its calves in his/her farm for at least three months for provision of above services on constant basis by the Livestock Department. He said at least 3000 calves would be fattened in next two years under this Project.This would help improve the income of tribal people besides generating employment opportunities in Fata and will provide healthy and quality meat to consumers. Another project that is establishment of a model farm in Khyber Agency was also in pipeline and hopefully its PC-I would be completed this month and would be launched after completion of codal formalities, he added.

Under this project, 50 cows would be kept in the model farm for cross-breeding that would not only help produce quality and healthy breed but also increase per kilogram meat and milk production in Fata. The estimated cost of this project is Rs.100 million that would be launched in Khyber Agency on pilot basis soon. He said negotiations were underway with donor agencies for establishment of Milk Processing Plant in Fata to improve quality of milk and earn valuable foreign exchange for the country besides bringing economic improvement in the lives of tribesmen.These project will help support national efforts for poverty alleviation by providing a model for sustainable rural development through livestock-based income generating activities at the rural community level and will help reduces poverty, enhances development opportunities for women and poor farmers, improves household food security and nutrition.
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In addition to capacity building of doctors and veterinary assistants, he said mobile clinics project was successfully underway in Orakzai, Kurram, Khyber and Bajaur Agencies wherein specialist doctors and vetarnary assistants were providing quality services to farmers and livestock owners living in remote areas.These projects are aimed at to exploit the vast potential of livestock and dairy development in Fata and make it income-generating ventures for tribesmen to improve their life style.


http://paktribune.com/business/news/Rs-168m-projects-for-uplift-of-livestock-sector-in-Fata-10942.html
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan: Cabinet Approves 5-Year Plan To Merge Tribal Areas With Neighboring Province

https://www.stratfor.com/situation-report/pakistan-cabinet-approves-5-year-plan-merge-tribal-areas-neighboring-province


Pakistan's Cabinet approved on March 2 a five-year plan to merge the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in western Pakistan with the neighboring province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dawn reported. The plan includes proposals to repeal the colonial-era Frontier Crimes Regulations laws and to extend the authority of the country's supreme court into the region. Approving the plan represents a key development in Pakistan's bid to reform a region that has long been the epicenter of militancy. Still, the government has only approved the proposal in principle, and there will undoubtedly be complications surrounding the plan, including concerns some hold about the sovereignty of the tribes in the region. Deadlines to watch include the goal of repatriating all internally displacing persons in the tribal areas by April 30 and completing construction in war-torn parts of the areas by 2018. The process also includes a plan to send representatives from the tribal areas to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly in provincial elections in 2018. The history of the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas is one of resistance, underdevelopment and exploitation at the hands of foreign powers.


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