Saturday, September 3, 2016

Pashto Music - Sardar Ali Takkar چه په بنړوباندے ـ سعدالله جان برق

Afghanistan has many problems. Its president may be one of them.

By Pamela Constable

On a recent evening, aides to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani invited several foreign journalists to his palace for an “informal conversation.” The journalists arrived to find a lavish picnic supper set up on the lawn. Soon after the guests sat down, the president unexpectedly strolled up and joined them. 
Ghani’s government is grappling with relentless poverty and insurgent violence, and the president faces unprecedented internal dissent and public attack. He is accused of being an autocratic micromanager and a remote academic with no feel for the common man. On that evening, though, he seemed confident, sympathetic and utterly unperturbed. 
Holding forth on the Afghan economy, he rattled off head-spinning statistics about irrigation and living standards. Asked how he could appear relaxed with so many crises swirling around him, Ghani waved the subject away. What upsets him, he confided, are meetings that don’t start on time. “Crises,” he added with a serene smile, “make me calm.”
Ghani’s performance seemed intended to both dazzle and disarm his small audience, something he has failed to achieve with the Afghan public. At 67, with a history of health problems, he spends 18-hour days on the job, reaching for the sky with long-term regional development schemes and digging deep into the state bureaucracy to root out corruption.
Yet these superhuman efforts, popular with foreign donors, have generated little domestic goodwill. They are resented by officials whose authority he has stripped away and ex-militia leaders who expected the old patronage system to keep making them rich. Meanwhile, disillusionment is deepening among ordinary Afghans as the government has failed to bring jobs or security.
“President Ghani is a victim of his own vision,” said Timor Sharan, who represents the nonprofit International Crisis Group in Afghanistan. “His reform agenda created high expectations, but people need to see tangible results. He thought he could sacrifice himself for the future, but if he fails, it will have a terrible historic impact on our country.”
Even such constructive critics say Ghani has been his own worst enemy. They describe him as intellectually arrogant, impatient with underlings and too busy to indulge in the tea-drinking chats with elders and ethnic strongmen that enabled his predecessor, Hamid Karzai, to hold together a divided society emerging from decades of brutal conflict and ideological whiplash.
A startling recent outburst by Abdullah Abdullah, Ghani’s normally polite partner in the national unity government forged by U.S. officials after fraud-plagued elections in 2014, signaled that such frustrations are reaching a critical mass. Abdullah complained that Ghani had no time to discuss issues with him and that someone so impatient “does not deserve to be president.”
The two men have since held a series of private patch-up meetings, and both are under pressure to keep their uneasy marriage together — at least until a conference in Brussels in October, at which about 100 governments and international agencies will hear Ghani present his vision and track record on reform before signaling the extent of their commitment to the country’s future.
But the apparent detente has not fooled the sharks circling Kabul’s drifting and damaged regime. They include former warlords who see an opportunity to extract concessions, plus an assortment of embittered bureaucrats, tribal rivals and supporters of Karzai, who spread constant unflattering stories, rumors and conspiracy theories about Ghani and his aides.
One persistent complaint is that Ghani has hamstrung government agencies and ministers by taking centralized oversight to absurd extremes. Officials told stories of the president reviewing costs for meat and rice at a girls school and personally interviewing hundreds of candidates for low-level administrative posts.
“He is interfering with appointments at low levels, and he humiliates people who object to his decisions,” said one ministry official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly. “He appoints ministers but he doesn’t give them authority to do their jobs. He is trying to stop corruption selectively. This is not the right way to bring reform.”
The other accusation is that Ghani has surrounded himself with advisers from his Pashtun ethnic group and clan, while shutting out those from other backgrounds. Both of his vice presidents are from ethnic minorities, but several of his closest confidants, such as the national security adviser, Hanif Atmar, are fellow Ghilzai Pashtuns. He has also alienated influential Durrani Pashtuns, whose tribe ruled the country for centuries.
The response from Ghani’s camp is that such charges are inaccurate or motivated by sour grapes. His advisers acknowledge that he has not devoted enough effort to public explanation and political schmoozing. But they insist that he is scrupulous about vetting appointments on merit alone and that delving into the minutiae of hiring and spending is the only way to root out corruption. 
“This is just an excuse for ministers to hide their weakness. They know how to steal more than how to spend,” said Finance Minister Eklil Ahmad Hakimi. Under the procurement commission created and chaired by the president, Hakimi said, only expenses over $300,000 must be reviewed by the panel. Last year, after it uncovered rigging in defense fuel contracting, Ghani fired 17 officials and canceled an $800 million contract. 
Ghani has shown no signs of softening his draconian reform policies or temperamental personality, but since the blowup with Abdullah he has taken more time to reach out to groups he once ignored and respond to public tragedies. After insurgents attacked an American-run university in Kabul last week, leaving 13 dead, he visited victims and toured the campus the next day.  
At the dinner with journalists, Ghani spoke passionately of wanting to help the country’s poorest families, and explained how building dams could generate enough electricity to create several million jobs in agriculture. “The poor must be the owners of Afghanistan,” he declared in what he hinted would be a theme of his speech in Brussels. 
Abdullah has said he is still committed to cooperating with Ghani to ensure the survival of their national unity government. But its tenuous legitimacy has made both men vulnerable to threats from former warlords, who could easily bring down Ghani’s crusade to bring technocratic rule to a traditional society based on dealmaking and informal consensus.
Some observers say the tension between Ghani’s need to strengthen political stability and his centralized drive to build a modern state is fast coming to a head. They suggest that the president, who authored a scholarly book called “Fixing Failed States,” needs to learn from Karzai’s laissez-faire leadership style. Otherwise, they warn, he may lose on both counts.
“The president wants to leap into the future, but he is ignoring the bombs in his path,” said Wahid Majrooh, a spokesman at the Public Health Ministry. “He has some good experts around him, but hedoesn’t have enough support. This is a one-man show. If he succeeds, it will be a miracle that transforms the country and maybe the entire region. If he fails, he will fail alone.”

Vietnam Will Never Be for India What Pakistan is to China


Narendra Modi’s visit to Vietnam is the first bilateral by an Indian Prime Minister since Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2001. In today’s hyper-nationalist times, Modi’s visit assumes a larger-than-life form with some ‘bhakts’ virtually seeing the feisty South-East Asian nation as an instrument of Indian geostrategy in the same way that Beijing uses Islamabad against New Delhi.  This connection is underscored by the fact that Modi chose to visit Hanoi on his way to the G-20 summit in Guangzhou, where he is expected to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
The “Pakistan”  thesis doesn’t hold water for the simple reason that no other country in the world can be so self-destructive as Pakistan is in its rivalry with India. Vietnam, on the other hand, is a very smart country which has a ruthless understanding of self interest; after all, confronted with a rising China, it has not hesitated to befriend the United States, the country that was reponsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Vietnamese in the 1960s and 1970s.Given where it is located, Vietnam almost certainly is looking to leverage its friendship with India to offset the rising power of its northern neighbour. But it is under no illusion that it can “take on” China; India is too weak to make up the power differential and its new friend, the United States, is too unreliable.
Following his meeting with Premier Ngyuen Xuan Phuc on Saturday, Modi announced a new $500 million line of credit for defence products and a target of $15 billion for two-way trade (currently it is around $9 billion). The two sides also signed agreements in areas like health, cyber security, ship building and naval information sharing. Indian investments are of the order of $1 billion in the area of food processing, fertilisers, sugar, auto components, information technology and agro-chemicals. Indian companies like ONGC Videsh have been active in Vietnam’s oil exploration efforts since the late 1980s despite some offshore areas being contested by China.Vietnam carefully manages its ties with China. For the past 12 years, China has been Vietnam’s top trade partner with estimated trade anywhere between $66-96 billion per annum. Vietnam is part of China’s production value chain for making electronic goods and sub-assemblies.
The Indo-Vietnamese strategic relationship – now upgraded, in nomenclature at least, to a ‘strategic comprehensive partnership’ –  is important, but its importance should not be over-stated. In terms of substance, it is actually fairly modest, beginning with the MoU on defence cooperation that was signed by the defence ministers of the two countries in November 2009. India offers 50 slots to Vietnamese defence personnel under the India Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme. India had offered a $100 million line of credit to Vietnam to purchase four offshore patrol vessels that are currently being built in Indian yards. The two countries also have some unspecified cooperation in electronic intelligence in relation to Chinese naval activity in the seas of Vietnam. India has helped Vietnam train personnel who are operating its Kilo class submarines, and New Delhi has offered to upgrade and maintain Russian-origin equipment with the Vietnamese forces such as tanks, fighter aircraft, helicopter and ships.
So far, there is no reference to the Brahmos missile, though it is well known that India has been keen to sell the missile to Vietnam. Hanoi itself is likely to be cautious on such a deal which could be viewed as destabilising. The recent emplacement of a missile battery off the Chinese border in Arunachal was sharply criticised by China.
Hawks in India virtually equate Brahmos with a ‘Brahmastra’, the mythical war-winning weapon of the Mahabhrata. The fact of the matter is that it is a type of missile in service with many navies, though India and Russia may have developed a land-attack and air-to0ground version of it. An important aspect of any sale would be the Russian view, since they have a veto on its marketing. While Russia continues to sell weapons and systems to Vietnam, it will certainly be guided by China on any sale of the Brahmos to Hanoi. In any case, with its DF-21Cs and HQ-9 SAMs, China has more than enough to deal with Vietnam.
The Sino-Vietnamese relationship
Vietnamese Prime Minister Ngyuen Xuan Phuc will visit China later this month, following up on the defence minister, Ngo Xuan Lich’s visit this week. Hanoi is aware that its partners like India, Japan and even the US are not a match for the power that Beijing, especially with its new friend Russia, can bring to bear on it. The Vietnamese may have given the Chinese a bloody nose in 1979, but Beijing’s adventure against Vietnam achieved all its military and political objectives. So it wants to maintain an even keel in its ties with Beijing.
Vietnam has settled its land border dispute with China, as well as that relating to the seas opposite Hainan island. What remains toxic, however, is the issue of South China Sea where Hanoi claims all of the Paracels, occupied by China, as well as the Spratlys, where the Vietnamese control 25 of the “rocks”, as compared to just seven by China.
Vietnam will not get too close to the US in order to anger China and neither will it get so close to Beijing as to discomfit Uncle Sam. US President Barack Obama’s visit to Vietnam and the decision to lift the American arms embargo is a significant development, but for now, little will happen till a new president is in office in Washington. But one thing is more or less certain — the Trans-Pacific Partnership is probably dead. Vietnam’s membership of the new trade agreement could have had major consequences. In any case, the US tends to be difficult in transferring cutting-edge technology to anyone and there is no indication that it will give Vietnam anything that will remotely upset the Chinese.
Vietnam’s key to dealing with China lies in the close party-to-party ties that the ruling establishments of the two countries enjoy. This relationship is quite deep, involving party organisations, institutions and personnel. Under General Secretary Ngyuen Phu Trong, the Vietnamese follow a policy that accepts the centrality of good relations with “socialist China”.
Yet, there is a well-spring of anti-Chinese feeling among the Vietnamese public, in part because of history, and in part arising from recent events like China’s forcible occupation of the Paracel islands.
More recently, the two countries have had issues with oil exploration, with China insisting that many blocs Vietnam has put on the international market are part of its territory, while in turn, China has offered areas which fall in Vietnam’s EEZ.
The big question is whether Hanoi will take up the South China Sea issue through the UNCLOS arbitration system following the successful example of the Philippines. The likely answer at this juncture is no. While Vietnam insists that peaceful settlement must be based on “equality” and respect for international law, China will be brazen and seek to strike a bilateral deal with Vietnam, after it has done so with the Philippines. At the end of the day, Vietnam will do what it considers best for its national interest. Indian policy makers would do well to understand that.

Bilawal Bhutto - Nation united against the cancer of extremism

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has strongly condemned terrorist attacks on a Mardan court and Christian Colony in Peshawar resulting in martyrdom of innocent people and injuries to law enforcing agencies.
In a statement issued on Friday, Bilawal said terrorists were targeting innocent people to scare the entire nation but pledged that country and the people are united against the cancer of extremism.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressed sympathies with those who lost their near and dear ones and asked the authorities for best possible medical treatment to those wounded in attacks.
He also saluted the security personnel who foiled the terror attack on Christian Colony, Peshawar and killed the armed terrorists on spot.;postID=643859968909059094

Pakistan - Border management



Under normal circumstances border management is a serious business for nation states and no one can have any problem with it as every state is supposed to do it as a matter of duty. As a long term measure, no sane person in Pakistan or Afghanistan would have anything to say against it. In fact, during the 2014 Pakistan visit of the Afghan President Dr. Ashraf Ghani, both countries had agreed on opening about fourteen crossing points on the border and had also decided to use them as trade routes. For all practical purposes this was an agreement on border management between the two countries as part of a package deal for normalising relations that also included Pakistani promises for bringing Taliban to the negotiation table and for acting against those who wouldn’t be ready to talk peace. This package deal fell apart as the Taliban refused to take part in peace negotiations while Pakistan did not withdraw her support to them.
Since June this year the apparently harmless term of border management has been misused to justify and camouflage an otherwise unjustifiable Afghan policy in Pakistan. A large scale and systematic campaign of disinformation has been launched to mould public opinion in favor of a deeply flawed policy that has played havoc with peace in both the countries. The lack of knowledge in the public (particularly in the Punjab) about the complicated nature of Pak-Afghan border comes very handy in misguiding the public opinion. The bankrupt nature of the policy of strategic depth in Afghanistan is so thoroughly exposed that it can’t be followed anymore under its original and real name. Hence the need for a new and “legitimate” dressing for it.
By unilaterally sealing off Torkham and Speen Boldak and by tightening Ghulam Khan (North Waziristan) and Angoor Adda (South Waziristan) in a similar fashion, an impression was created that these measures are meant for blocking terrorist movement across the borders. Same policy was adopted on four other lesser known crossing points namely, Arundu (Chitral), Gursal (Bajaur), Nawa Pass (Momand) and Kharlachi in Kurram Agency. But not many people would know that there are at least 262 crossing points on the almost 2400 km long Durand Line. So even if the aforementioned eight crossing points are absolutely managed and controlled it will leave at least 254 crossing points open, which are mostly unmanned. As far as the terrorists are concerned they will still have hundreds of routs to use, at least in the short term.
There are three important dimensions of the present policy of the so-called border management that underlines its dubious nature. One, it is totally unilateral. After all any border can be effectively managed only when it is done bilaterally. But after falling apart of the package deal of 2014, there has been no new initiative from Pakistan to involve the Afghan side in it.
The fact of the matter is that foreign office and civilian government have not much of a role in the formation or execution of this policy so it mainly focuses on military measure and is extremely week on political component for obvious reasons. Two, the abrupt adoption and implementation of this policy in first week of June coincides with the peak of summer military offensive of Taliban. For all practical purposes it serves more for increasing pressure on the beleaguered NUG in Kabul than blocking the movement of terrorists. Particularly unilateral blocking of Torkham and Spinboldak, in violation of the Transit Trade Agreement between the two countries, can also put economic pressure on Kabul. Three, new measures adopted in the name of border management are also accompanied by a policy of pushing refugees out by force. Afghan refugees have faced unprecedented harassment on a very large scale. Thousands of them had to flee in the face of brutal and callous police action, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA where their ghettos were bulldozed. Ministry of States and Frontier Regions, which has been dealing with the affairs of Afghan refugees for many long years, has lost control over the issue and the Interior Ministry has stepped in and unleashed the police, FC, Rangers and other LEAs on the refugees.
It is pretty clear that an enforced repatriation can’t be sustainable at a time when Pakistan based Taliban have expanded their operations throughout Afghanistan. The Afghan government has to deal with q growing number of IDPs because of the ever expanding military conflict. The only practical purpose of this inhuman Pakistani policy towards Afghan refugees can be to add to the chaos in Afghanistan created by Taliban’s war of attrition.
The cumulative effect of the so called border management and refugee bashing and refugee thrashing has led to a huge humanitarian crises on both sides of the Durand Line. I am focussing here on the situation on the Pakistani side. Pakistani hospitals and other centers of basic human facilities have closed their doors on Afghan refugees who have literally become aliens without any legal rights. Afghan refugees, including women and children, have to wait in scorching heat in open skies in places where there are no lavatories or shades. These are sufferings that are not very dissimilar to the ones faced by Palestinians on the Israeli controlled crossing points. It is only natural that the aforementioned humanitarian crises has created a wave of anguish among Pashtuns living in Pakistan. It is particularly so because the ID cards of thousands of Pashtun citizens of Pakistan have also been blocked in Punjab and Sindh and many of them have faced arrests and fleecing by police. All the major political parties based in Pashtun areas have raised their voices against these inhuman policies. Now political parties, both secular and religious, are getting together for opposing the aforementioned policies.
On Thursday evening important political leaders representing different and diverse political parties held a meeting in Islamabad at the residence of JUI Amir Moulana Fazlullah-u-Renman and after detailed deliberations demanded immediate reversal of the current policies towards Afghan refugees and adoption of remedial measures. They decided to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other high state functionaries in a delegation for presenting their demands to them. They are also united in raising it in the parliament. The disassociation of important Pashtun political leaders from the current Afghan policy has exposed the lack of political support for it inside Pakistan. The insistence of Punjabi dominated security establishment of Pakistan on the adventurist Afghan policy is creating new fault lines within Pakistan even if one ignores the disastrous consequences of it in Afghanistan.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Hillary Clinton blasts Trump's trip to Mexico

Hillary Clinton strongly criticized Donald Trump’s visit to Mexico in a tweet Wednesday, blasting the GOP nominee for having “just failed his first foreign test.”
Trump’s hastily-scheduled trip to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto comes just as the latest national poll showed Clinton in a statistical tie with her Republican rival. The newest Fox News poll showed Clinton nationally at 41 percent and Trump at 39 percent of support when the Libertarian and Green party candidates are included.
Clinton’s campaign had a field day with the discrepancy between Trump, who said the two politicians didn’t discuss who would pay for his long-touted border wall proposal, and Pena Nieto, who fired back that the pair had indeed talked about it and that he had told Trump Mexico would not foot the bill.
Clinton representatives said that while Trump talked tough about making Mexico pay, he eventually chickened out when he got south of the border.
“Trump choked!” -- That was the verdict from Clinton’s campaign chairman after Trump said he and Pena Nieto didn’t discuss who would pay for the wall.
When the Mexican president contradicted Trump, the Clinton campaign amended its statement: “It turns out Trump didn’t just choke, he got beat in the room and lied about it.”
In Cincinnati, the former secretary of state argued she knows diplomats -- and Trump isn’t one of them.
“You don’t build a coalition by insulting our friends,” she told the American Legion’s annual meeting. “Dropping in on our neighbors for a few hours, and then flying home again -- that is not how it works.”
The campaign also noted that Trump’s flattery yesterday -- like when he said south of the border that “Mexicans are just beyond reproach” -- doesn’t match up with his own past pronouncements.
“I want nothing to do with Mexico,” Trump said in a past tweet.
“Don’t do business with Mexico,” he wrote in another.
And: “Mexico is totally ripping off the U.S.”
Both Clinton and Trump were invited by Pena Nieto, but only Trump jumped at the invitation -- and the opportunity to hit Clinton for not going.
“She didn’t go to Mexico,” Trump told a booing crowd in Phoenix. “She was invited - she doesn’t have the strength or the stamina to make America great again.”
The Clinton camp is firing back this morning, calling Trump’s Arizona speech “disastrous” and putting their money where their mouth is. The campaign will be investing six figures to buy ad time in that solidly red state over the coming weeks.

Music - Sam Smith "Momentarily Mine"

Pakistan: UN Committee insists on revocation of blasphemy laws

The UN Committee in its report, expressed concerns relating “the high number of blasphemy cases based on false accusations with no related investigations and prosecutions, the judges who judge cases of blasphemy face intimidation, death threats and murders.” 

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has urged that Pakistan should revoke the draconian blasphemy law.

The commission based in Geneva, in its periodic report on Pakistan released on August 26, stated that misuse of blasphemy laws is surging in the heavily Islamic country.

The Commission based in Geneva “takes note of the state’s efforts to prevent the abuse of blasphemy laws”, but also expresses concern about “efforts for the broad and vague definition of crimes against religion under articles of the law”, which consists of some articles of the penal Code of Pakistan, and notes “the disproportionate use of those laws against individuals belonging to ethnic and religious minorities”.

The UN Committee in its report, expressed concerns relating “the high number of blasphemy cases based on false accusations with no related investigations and prosecutions, the judges who judge cases of blasphemy face intimidation, death threats and murders.”

Furthermore, the Committee also offered advised Pakistan “to consider the repeal of the blasphemy law, which goes against freedom of expression and religion, established by the Constitution” and asks “to take all necessary measures to prosecute and punish those submitting false charges” and “to protect the judges.”

Additionally, the UN Committee also recommends for efficacious efforts to curb religion-based discrimination and guard Pakistanis hailing from various ethnic and religious minorities. The Committee further urged for reinforcing the impartiality and effectiveness of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan-which was established in the country in 2015.

It was further recommended that the government must apportion sufficient resources, polishing skills and enhancing powers which might help in probing cases of human rights violation.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa - Reforming the Tribal Areas of Pakistan

By HassanNaqvi

Pakistan must summon the courage to accept and articulate the truth: that the State of Pakistan has treated the Tribal Areas in a discriminatory manner.
The demand for extending democracy to the tribal areas of Pakistan is not a new one. Often conflated with terrorism and border-fragility in international news, the Tribal Areas of Pakistan have become a symbol of Islamabad’s negligence in building inclusionary structures for a wide swathe of strategically located terrain governed by archaic laws that spark outrage for their brutal, colonial autocracy, said Policy brief by Jinnah Institute titled ‘Reforming the Tribal Areas of Pakistan’ written by Barrister Saad Rasool.
The brief said today, given that an operationally patchy National Action Plan dictates the retooling of FATA and PATA policy in order to extend the fight against violent extremism, a high-level FATA reforms initiative from Islamabad finds its agenda in the crosshairs of animated public discourse in Pakistan.
Shrouded in centuries of tribal warfare, rugged terrain, archaic customs, political disenfranchisement and a parallel judicial structure, the Tribal Areas of Pakistan seem frozen in time as a relic of history.
He stated that after nearly seven decades of independence, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the Pakistan Administered Tribal Areas (PATA), remain outside the circle of constitutional protections, popping up regularly in the news as a flashpoint of terrorism and governance in perpetual crisis.
The Need for Reform
After a decade of militancy and the fight against it, sociopolitical pressures in the Tribal Areas have accentuated fragile fault lines. Despite billions in investments on reconstruction, rehabilitation and development in the Tribal Areas, the trajectory for extending basic social services, fundamental freedoms and political rights has plateaued.
Rasool added that the region continues to demonstrate some of the lowest human development indicators in Pakistan with literacy rates as low as 17 percent overall and as low as 3 percent among women. Infant mortality is recorded to be as high as 87 deaths per 1000 births and just 10 percent of the population has access to ‘adequate’ sanitation.
An absence of representative local and provincial governments and corresponding district administration structures explains, to some extent, the disparity in opportunities and access to public services faced by its citizens.
Over the past decade, repeated military operations in the various agencies of the Tribal Areas have displaced over 1.8 million people. The process of relocation and rehabilitation has been equally hard. While a majority of the displaced population has now moved back, a significant number of displaced families from North and South Waziristan continue to live in temporary camps or with host families across adjoining settled districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
This mass displacement of families has had an impact on livelihoods and social structures, adding to existing vulnerabilities of the region’s inhabitants. Equally significant is the impact of displacement on the relationship between the Tribal Areas and the state.
Rasool added that the very real challenges of ensuring that citizens of the Tribal Areas are provided the very freedoms and public services guaranteed under the Constitution, and that the writ of the state is extended to FATA has necessitated a long overdue reform process – a process that will extend access to justice, health, education, and representative government to the Tribal Areas.
He added that the legitimate demand for politically mainstreaming the Tribal Areas has gained renewed impetus as the need for reestablishing a new social contract between its residents and the state has gained velocity.
Constitutional Status of the Tribal Areas
The Constitution of Pakistan in Chapter 3 of Part XII, includes special provisions relating to the governing and management of the “Tribal Areas.” The Constitution stipulates that “the executive authority of the Federation shall extend to” FATA, “and the executive authority of a Province shall extend to” PATA.
The President of Pakistan, being the repository of State’s executive power, may direct the Governor of a Province relating to any part of a Tribal Area as he may deem necessary, and the concerned Governor is duty-bound to abide by his directions.
No act of Parliament is applicable to FATA, and no act of the provincial legislative assembly is applicable to PATA, thereby excluding the legislature unless directed by the relevant executive authority. In the case of FATA, this executive authority rests with the President and in the case of PATA with the Governor of the respective province
Rasool said that the Constitution also allows the President or the Governor to apply any law passed by the legislature to a specified region within the tribal area, subject to exceptions.
Within this constitutional paradigm, the powers of the President go beyond mere regulation and governance of tribal areas. Article 247(6) empowers the President to “direct that the whole or any part of a Tribal Area shall cease to be Tribal Area”. As such, the President exercises powers reminiscent of colonial times, with little or no participation from the local people of the concerned Tribal Areas, he said.
In simpler terms, the promise of democracy, fundamental rights and the right to be governed in accordance with free adult franchise – enshrined in the Objectives Resolution – has been withheld from the people residing in the Tribal Areas. These provisions of the Constitution ensure that the laws and governance structures of the Tribal Areas operate, for the most part, at the discretion of one individual – the President – who the citizens of the Tribal Areas did not (directly) elect.
In virtually all modern democracies, wherever the Constitution empowers a particular office holder with excessive executive authority, a corresponding power to review such executive actions is usually vested in an independent judiciary. However, in the case of the Tribal Areas, the Supreme Court and High Courts cannot exercise jurisdiction in the region unless relevant laws are extended through a special executive order.
Rasool added that this absence of judicial oversight in the Tribal Areas has meant that ordinary citizens continue to be subject to colonial forms of justice, primarily through the archaic Jirga system. In cases that involve the state, judicial powers are vested in the executive officers of the state assigned to each Agency.
Only recently, the jurisdiction of regular Courts has been extended to PATA through the enactment of a decree. However, the Superior and Higher Courts are still barred from exercising jurisdiction over FATA, therefore limiting the recourse residents have in seeking constitutionally enforced fundamental rights, he added.
PATA and the Stumbling Reform Process
Rasool said that the formal legislative instruments have historically had no direct applicability in PATA. Soon after promulgation of the 1973 Constitution, the elected government specifically extended some of the procedural and substantive laws to this tribal region, including the Evidence Act, 1872, the Criminal Procedure Code, 1898, and the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860. This meant, that unlike FATA, the provincially administered tribal regions were now governed by the same set of laws and procedures applicable for law and order as the rest of Pakistan.
In the mid-1970s, amidst public protests about forest royalties in the tribal regions, the then government introduced two important legislations – the PATA Criminal Law (Special Provisions) Regulation, 1975 and the PATA Civil Procedures (Special Provisions) Regulation, 1975 (referred to as the “PATA Regulations”). These legislative instruments provided the local bureaucracy with greater administrative powers for settling disputes by granting judicial powers to each Deputy Commissioner in PATA through which civil and criminal cases could be referred to the local jirgas. While jirgas continued to be the primary apparatus for dispute resolution, the PATA Regulations created a parallel system of district and sessions judges to decide three kinds of cases: 1) where the government was an interested party; 2) where the interest of minors was involved; and 3) where offences concerned violation of Islamic law and the Hudood Ordinance.
He added that only a few years after the extension of procedural and substantive laws to PATA, the reforms had been rolled back once again citing the need to maintain law and order. Local incidents and protests as an excuse to vest judicial and greater administrative powers in district administrators.
In the late 1980s, the Peshawar High Court declared the PATA Regulations unconstitutional, discriminatory and repugnant to Article 25 of the Constitution. After a prolonged appeal process, the Supreme Court restored the jurisdiction of the Superior and High Courts to PATA and ensured that decisions reached under any mechanism in PATA could be challenged in the regular courts, the policy brief mentioned.
However, PATA’s journey towards a constitutional judiciary was once again derailed in the face a violent movement by Tehreek-e-Nifaz-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM). As a result of the movement, the infamous Nafaz-e-Shariat Regulations were promulgated in the mid-1990s. These regulations made minor changes to the nomenclature of the judiciary (renaming the civil and sessions judges as ‘qazi’), while still keeping the process under the appellate jurisdiction of the Peshawar High Court, said Rasool adding that disgruntled with these superficial changes, the TNSM continued with its violent campaign for Sharia law across the region, culminating in the promulgation of the Nizam-e-Adl, 1999, which required judges across PATA to consult with religious clerics before rendering any judgment.
The legal framework introduced by Nizam-e-Adl, 1999, continued to be in force until April of 2009, when TNSM (functioning under the umbrella of other banned outfits) struck a deal with the then government of Pakistan, to promulgate the Nizam-e-Adl Regulations, 2009, and enforce Sharia law across Swat and the neighboring PATA areas, he mentioned.
Soon after, the Peshawar High Court declared significant portions of the 2009 regulations to be unconstitutional, specifically those provisions which entrusted executive offices with any judicial powers. The Court directed all pending proceedings before qazi courts to be transferred to judicial Magistrates or Sessions Judge of the District. Despite clear directions, the 2009 regulations have not been brought in conformity with the Constitution and no meaningful or conclusive reforms have been implemented by the government.
FATA and the Vestiges of Colonialism
Rasool stated that under the Constitution of Pakistan, FATA, the semi-autonomous tribal region on the North-West border between Pakistan and Afghanistan –including seven different tribal agencies, and six frontier regions –is directly governed under the President of Pakistan’s executive authority through a special set of laws called the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR). The FCR, which came into force on the 24th of April, 1901, is a legislative instrument that attempts to provide a legal, judicial, administrative, and governance framework to FATA territories.
The philosophy and scope of the FCR can perhaps best be understood by the fact that the FCR finds its origins in the notorious Murderous Outrages Act, 1867, enacted by the colonial rulers of a (then) united India. Specifically, the Murderous Outrages Act and its subsequent amendment was devised to counter the opposition of Pashtuns to the British Raj, the brief stated.
Today, under the FCR, crimes committed by an individual can result in collective punishment for the family or tribe members. It allows non-traditional/parallel judicial structures (jirgas) to determine guilt and determine punishment in civil and criminal matters. ‘Trial’ before such extra-judicial jirgas does not provide the full measure of constitutional protections to the litigating parties. Suspected offenders can be apprehended at the behest of the Federal Government, even by their own tribal leaders, without any requirement for specifying the offence or presenting evidence against the accused. In these circumstances, the entire ambit of ‘Fundamental Rights’ – including the right to be dealt with in accordance with the law, security of person, safeguards for arrest and detention, protection against double jeopardy or self-incrimination, the inviolability of the dignity of man, freedom of movement, protection of property rights, and the equality of citizens– are frequently denied to residents of FATA.
In 2011, the President of Pakistan enacted the first set of noteworthy amendments to the FCR, through the Frontier Crimes (Amendment) Regulation which constitute the most significant and far-reaching alterations to the archaic structure of FCR. These include: ·
  1. Protection of women, children below the age of 16, and citizens above the age of 65, from collective responsibility, arrest and detention;
  2. Prohibition against arresting an entire tribe under the collective responsibility sections
  3. Fixed time limit for the disposal of cases;
  4. Provision for independent appeal process
  5. Strengthening of the FATA tribunal
  6. Provision for bail
  7. Induction of jail inspections;
  8. Reference to council of elders and Qaumi Jirga
  9. Forfeiture of public salary for being involved in a crime
  10. Checks on arbitrary powers of arrest;
  11. Punishment and compensation for false prosecution
  12. No deprivation of property rights without adequate compensation
  13. Audit of political agent funds by the Auditor General of Pakistan
Recent Reform Proposals
Despite their rating as a bold attempt in introducing much needed reform, the 2011 Amendments have failed to mainstream FATA, specifically with regard to constitutional and political rights of its residents. In its aftermath, a fresh and much needed debate for ‘mainstreaming’ FATA and PATA has erupted across the political spectrum.
Rasool added that as a result, the incumbent government has established the FATA Reforms Commission which has submitted its interim report to the Prime Minister in August of 2016. Over the past few years, other committees and initiatives, including the “Political Parties Joint Committee on FATA Reforms”, have made their respective contributions to the narrative on reform in the Tribal Areas. In summary, these recommendations include:
  1. Peace in FATA should be guaranteed
  2. Article 247 of the Constitution should be amended ·
  3. Local bodies’ elections should be held in FATA
  4. Development projects should be increased
  5. The future status of FATA should be decided by its people
  6. Media should be provided greater access to FATA
  7. The Jirga system should be made more democratic and independent
  8. Actions in Aid of Civil Power Regulation should be abolished
  9. Executive and judicial powers should be separated in FATA
  10. Citizens should not be deprived of property; inheritance law should be extended
  11. Civil armed forces (khasadar and levies) should be strengthened and professionalised
These initiatives and reform proposals have, in a rather disparate and disconnected manner, presented a number of proposals for ‘mainstreaming’ the Tribal Areas. For example, the FATA Commission has recommended that Agency Councils and a Governor’s Council be established throughout FATA, with partial representation of people. The FATA Commission has argued that instituting such councils, for an interim 2-year period, will lead to a smooth and sustainable transition of FATA into Pakistan’s regular democratic paradigm. The FATA Commission has also argued, perhaps fallaciously, that such councils, even though mainly staffed by unelected senior bureaucrats, will “strengthen the link between the people of FATA and the State”.
He said that much like the recommendations made by the FATA Commission, the Political Parties Joint Committee on FATA Reforms has argued that the introduction of a workable elected local government structure is key to mainstreaming the tribal belt. This committee has called for a greater allocation of development funds, and an increased media access across the tribal belt. Based on their experiences in the Tribal Areas, representatives have argued that the jirga system must be made more democratic and independent, and that the civilian law enforcement forces (khasadar and levies) must be strengthened to meet the evolving challenge of terrorism.
However, a number of leading stakeholders in FATA, including tribal elders and “maliks” represented in the FATA Grand Alliance, have consistently rejected earlier reform proposals. These tribal elders, often motivated by the need to maintain their power, have called for greater inclusion during the consultative process of reform committees. However, despite reservations, the same body of tribal elders continue to support changes in FCR and greater political representation for FATA.
The policy brief stated that despite the momentum and political capital for reform, there seems to be no real consensus in Islamabad on the future status of FATA and PATA. While the general drift of the recommendations is towards a merger of the Tribal Areas into the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, there is still no roadmap or timeline for such a transition.
The people of FATA and PATA do not enjoy ‘equality’ of rights that compare to other citizens of Pakistan, neither do they possess a measure of freedom that is commensurate with modern standards of democracy, nor do they exercise control over their governance structure or the laws under which they are forced to shape their daily lives, he said.
Rasool recommended that any reform of the political dispensation of the tribal regions, especially to improve democratic entitlements, must incorporate the following aspects:
  1. Fundamental rights of the residents of the Tribal Areas, including the right to freely participate in a transparent electoral process must be safeguarded;
  2. The quintessential democratic ideal of representative government, devolved in accordance with the Constitutional mandate, must be extended to the Tribal Areas;
iii. People of the Tribal Areas must be guaranteed their proportionate share in the Federal budget as well as institutions of the Federal and Provincial Governments;
  1. The Tribal Area must be given autonomy in terms of democratic governance as well as legislative and executive authority, for a participatory governance model. Based on these broad principles, the following key areas of reform need to be implemented forthwith:
Developing of a national narrative
Rasool opined that the first and foremost step, in any concerted reform effort for the Tribal Areas, is the development of a deliberate narrative concerning the future of Tribal Areas. For now, as is apparent from the incongruent set of recommendations made by different committees, there is no consensus as to what precisely should be the goals of the reform process, and what roadmap must be followed in pursuit thereof. In this regard, it is the responsibility of public office-holders to reach out to relevant stakeholders from the Tribal Areas to identify concrete goals and timelines. Thereafter, a national consensus, through political initiatives and media awareness, must be forged in order to achieve these common goals.
Recognition of the constitutional status
He added that there needs to be a clear stance in terms of the future constitutional status of the Tribal Areas. Keeping in mind the underlying principles of representative democracy and a ‘Federal Republic’ in Pakistan, the recommended course of action would be to either merge the Tribal Areas within the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, or to instead grant this region complete and independent provincial status (similar to the step taken for Gilgit-Baltistan). From a constitutional perspective, either of these can be done at the behest of the President of Pakistan. In exercise of this power, the President must change the status of the Tribal Areas and in line with our constitutional imperatives.
Constitutional amendment
The policy brief stated that for any substantial democratic or legal change to come to the Tribal Areas, it is important that a constitutional amendment be passed. Specifically, Article 246 and 247 must either be repealed, or amended in a manner that includes the Tribal Areas as regular parts of Pakistan. This would, without any further tweaks to the legal structure, extend the entire ambit of fundamental democratic rights to the Tribal Areas, and afford them constitutional recourse to courts. At the very least, amendments can ensure that the jurisdiction of the national/provincial legislatures extend to the Tribal Areas.
Repeal of the FCR
Rasool said the FCR, being a draconian relic of our colonial past, must be repealed immediately. Instead, our procedural and substantive laws, as applicable elsewhere in Pakistan, must be brought into force in the Tribal Areas.
Recourse to an independent judiciary
With a repeal (or amendment) of Article 247 of the Constitution, jurisdiction of district and superior Courts will naturally extend to the Tribal Areas, under the command and reach of the Constitution. An independent judiciary, which allows citizens the right to approach the courts for enforcement of their fundamental rights, will immediately infuse a greater sense of democracy across the Tribal Areas, The brief stated.
Elected government and devolution
He said that in light of the letter and spirit of the Constitution (as applicable across Pakistan, except the Tribal Areas), FATA must be afforded the three-tiered governance model: Federal Government; Provincial Government; and Local Government. The ideal of devolved governance must be extended to the Tribal Areas, along with the power to levy and collect taxes. In this regard, at least immediately, local councils should be established at Agency, Tehsil, and Union Council level. Following the long-overdue national census, constituencies and electoral roles in the Tribal Areas must be delimited and finalized by the Election Commission of Pakistan. Also, determination of election disputes must be done by the Election Commission, instead of any alternative arrangement (e.g. political agents).
Party-based elections
According to policy brief, per established jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, specifically, the right to form political parties and contest on partisan basis is one that must be extended, mutatis mutandis, to the region and people of the Tribal Areas. In fidelity to this constitutional ideal, the right to participate in party-based elections, for all tiers of government, must be extended to the Tribal Areas.
Minorities and women quota
He recommended that special protection and quotas for religious minorities and women must be instituted within the governance structure of Tribal Areas while establishing affirmative action quotas at all levels of Federal and Provincial government. This would help break-down the cultural boundaries between the Tribal Areas and the rest of Pakistan; while encouraging the citizens of region to adopt a larger degree of inclusiveness.
Budgetary allocation
Tribal Areas have consistently been recorded as one of the poorest regions of Pakistan, with substandard infrastructure and development facilities. In order to compensate for past wrongs, it is imperative that Tribal Areas be allocated a larger share of development budget, so as to better integrate the people of Tribal Areas into mainstream Pakistani culture, the policy brief recommended.
Law and order
Rasool mentioned that Law and order continues to be the primary crippling factor in the Tribal Areas. The deplorable law and order affects all sectors of social, cultural and infrastructural growth in the region. While the ongoing ‘war on terror’ is likely to last its course (in light of the larger geo-political turmoil), political measures must be taken to develop and improve the civilian law-enforcement apparatus – especially the Police, khasadar and levies.
He said that Pakistan must summon the courage to accept and articulate the truth: that the State of Pakistan has treated the Tribal Areas in a discriminatory manner. Interim-measures and empty rhetoric that promise to ‘phase-in’ democracy and fundamental rights to the people of our Tribal Areas has been nothing more than a convenient excuse over the years. It belies the underlying truth that we have not yet mustered the necessary political resolve to extend the promise of democratic freedoms to this mountainous belt. It is therefore essential to embrace the fullest promise of democracy and constitutionalism all across Pakistan and include the people of Tribal Areas into the fold of the freedoms and protection of fundamental rights enshrined in our constitution.