FATA made as Qabailistan
Asif Haroon Raja
War on terror initiated by the US in October 2001 is still continuing with no end in sight. In Afghanistan, the initiative is in the hands of the Taliban. The ISAF despite its massive superiority in men and material and in technology has become so vulnerable and fragile that it has decided to quit by end 2014. While ISAF under Gens McChrystal, Petraeus and Allen resorted to policy of brutal force against Afghan Pakhtuns to breakdown the resistance of freedom fighters, Pak Army under Gen Kayani after using force to capture the restive regions opted to win hearts and minds of tribal areas. He decided totake over the next phase of rehabilitation and building of war torn regionswhen he saw that civil administration was reluctant to come forward. Thepicturesque Swat town has regained its past glory in a very short time and inmany ways gives a more modern look. Business and tourism are thriving, schoolsand colleges are functional and fruit orchards are bearing fruits. Bajaur hasalso been rebuilt to quite an extent.
Satisfied with Army’s performance in Swat and surroundingregions, Kayani has now diverted his attention towards South Waziristan (SW). Largenumber of people had left their homes in July-August 2009 in the wake ofimpending Operation Rah-e-Nijat and had taken refuge in makeshift camps in Tankand Dera Ismail Khan. Although the Mehsud dominated SW was cleared of themiscreants by December 2009, but the displaced persons terrorized by themilitants were reluctant to return back. They were hesitant to take on securityof their respective villages on self-help basis by organizing village defenceforce. Hakimullah Mehsud’s men had thoroughly terrorized the locals and theywere not picking up heart to return and face them. They returned in small packetsfrom mid 2011 only when the Army assured them that it would provide themsecurity as well as help in rehabilitating them and in developing the region.
To start with, three major roads were built, one leading fromJandola-Srarogha to Makeen-Razmak, the other from Tanai-Wana to Angoor Adda,and the third one from Tank-Gomal to Wana. Network of roads is being laid tomake the area serve as third transit link for trade with Afghanistan. Once thearea was opened up, displaced persons were brought back from December 2010onward and rehabilitated.
In addition to rebuilding destroyed houses, fifty new houseswere built for the poor including 26 houses for the widows. Building materialhas been provided for self-help construction. Villages are developed on theconcept of model village having basic facilities available at their doorstep.Kotkai, Chaghmalai, Sarwakai and Jandola have already been turned into modelvillages where market complexes have also been constructed. 112 shops have beenhanded over to the locals on a nominal rent of Rupees 20 per month to enablethem to earn their livelihood. Ten poultry farms have so far been established inmarkets and many more are under construction. Locals are trained in this field.After letting them handle two flocks of birds free of cost, they are chargednominal amount in running the poultry farm independently. Schools, healthcentres, sports complex, recreational parks, public toilets, roadside driverhotels and mosques are found in most villages.
In addition, three goat farms, two cattle farms and one duckfarm have also been established and handed over to villagers at Sararogha,Kotkai and Murghiband. Goat and cattle breeding have started in a big way. Honey-beeboxes have been distributed free of cost to the farmers. Bee-keeping and honeybusiness taught to the locals has become very popular. Disrupted electricity isfast being restored and water channels revived. Agriculture is being boosted byproviding wheat seeds, fertilizer and ploughing tools free of cost. Some fishponds have also been made by providing hatchlings to the farmers.
Several water schemes were completed in record time toprovide clean drinking water. For the women, cottage industry has beenpromoted. Healthcare units have also been established. In order to improvehealth facilities, hospitals at Jandola and Srarogha have been renovated and amobile field hospital made operative under Army Medical Corps. Free medicalcamps are also in operation. To impart technical training to the youth, Instituteof Technical Education at Chaghmalai was established in June 2011. Stream oftrained auto electricians, auto mechanics electricians, drivers and computeroperators are coming out of this institution after every four monthstraining.
So far 23 schools have been reconstructed and three of themconverted into model schools with sophisticated facilities including sportsstadiums. Two cadet colleges at Wana and Spinkai Ragzai are functioning withfacilities as good, if not better than other recognized cadet colleges in thecountry. Gen Kayani on his visit to that area on 18 June did the groundbreaking ceremony of the Road Tank-Gomal-Wana, and also inaugurated SpinkaiCadet College. One has to visit this war torn area and see for himself therevolutionary change that has come and the enthusiasm with which the locals aretaking part in day to day activities.
Seven ‘Women Skills Development Centres’ have been planned toimpart training of sewing, knitting, and handicrafts. Widows have been providedwith sewing machines, hens and goats for their sustenance. In order tode-radicalize and rehabilitate the misled youth, particularly those involved inminor crimes a special therapy program has been launched in Tank. Similarefforts are needed in North Waziristan where the security situation is so farnot conducive to undertake development works. If the US had fulfilled itspromise of ROZs, extremism and terrorism would have got curtailed by now.
What is needed is awareness drive through well organized mediaand publicity campaign to remove misperceptions about the Army and what all itis doing to improve the quality of life of people of tribal areas. The perverserole of foreign powers in creating misgivings and hatred and instigating the tribesto fight the state forces rather than defending the western border should behighlighted. In addition, intelligence network should be expanded andmodernized to not only prevent foreign interference but also to keep an eye onspies and anti-state elements on the payroll of foreign agencies. Paramilitaryforces which have gone through the mill are now better trained and equipped todeal with counter terror duties. These second line forces should be furtherstrengthened to be able to take on frontline duties independently so that theArmy could be relieved and reverted to its primary duties. Idea of creating aseparate counter terror force seems to have been shelved. This needs to be activatedsince the problem of terrorism will persist at least till the departure of UStroops in 2024.
It is high time that FATA which is rich in natural resources andhas an extremely hardworking workforce should be declared as an independentprovince and named as Qabailistan. This will help in removing its sense ofdeprivation and bringing it in the mainstream. Political power, jobopportunities and education will certainly help in curbing extremism andfeelings of neglect. Besides its own political legislature, administrative andjudicial set ups, it should have its own Regimental Centre, Qabaili Army unitsand Qabail Corps under IGQC. This will be very much in line with the ongoingtrend of creating more provinces. Or else, FATA should be made part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,but the Governor should be from FATA and KP in rotation.
The writer is a defenceand security analyst who writes for national/international newspapers/websites.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org