In recent years, insurgency in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) has threatened domestic, regional and international security. Over a three-year period between 2008 and 2010 Wilton Park, with support from the UK Government, brought together key Pakistanis administering and working in FATA, including FATA parliamentarians, and other national and international experts to obtain a shared understanding of the options open for governing FATA, promoting security and development.
Few argued for maintaining the existing system of governance for FATA, inherited from the colonial period. Mainstreaming FATA was broadly recognized as key to the region and Pakistan’s future stability, although opinions differ on the options, scope and pace of reform. All measures undertaken should, however, be based on full consultation with FATA’s inhabitants.
Among the key issues discussed were:
- All measures undertaken in FATA should be based on full consultation with the inhabitants of FATA, and a sustained framework should be established to ascertain and accommodate their views.
- Although there has been encouraging consensus in Pakistan’s national parliament on measures to tackle terrorism and extremism, this has not translated into a full national debate and resolute action.
- While views vary on long-term FATA reform, there is strong agreement that there should be no further delay in implementing the partial reform measures announced in August 2009 for limited amendment to the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) and extending the Political Parties Act to FATA. The national parliament should give legislative effect to the package.
- A FATA committee should be established to have clear ownership for overseeing implementation of the August 2009 proposals and subsequently developing a comprehensive roadmap for future reform, including a widespread consultation process with FATA residents to generate consensus on next steps.
- There should be national debate on the importance of mainstreaming FATA.
- The Frontier Corps (FC) should continue to be strengthened and has a primary role to play in law enforcement, while reform of the Levies and Khassadars will contribute to long-term and durable security. Plans for departure of the military from FATA should be made known.