National Conference on the FATA and Pak-Afghan border management concludes with renewed efforts to sustain dialogue and communication links

(Peshawar): Pakistan and Afghanistan should work together for curbing the menace of terrorism that has been engulfing the entire region into its grip. Dialogue is the only solution and the intellectual input should come through the academic activities including seminars, workshops, conferences and people to people contact.

This was the crux of a national conference held at the Area Study Center, University of Peshawar to debate “The British Treaties, FATA and Pak-Afghan border management:  Perceptions and Reality”.

The conference attracted academicians, legal and political experts, ex-bureaucrats, media men, research scholars and media men beside a large number of civil society organizations.

The conference discussed at length the perceptions and reality knitted around the geographical dimensions of the issues in the Af- Pak region.

Speaking on the occasion, the Vice Chancellor Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University Peshawar, Dr. Razia Sulatana said that the dilemma comes when states are not ready to come out of the past legacy. She said the legacy of cold war is still haunting the two neighboring states – Afghanistan and Pakistan. She further said that FATA became a global flash point soon after the Taliban government was toppled in the wake of US-led coalition’s forces attacks in late 2001. She said this was the appropriate time to come up with political solution to the border management and specially the FATA region to offer its war-hit citizens decent life opportunities.

Renowned journalist Mr. Rahimullah Yousufzai while lauding the government’s contributions towards border management said that we still have a long way to go on securing the 2500 kilometer long pours border. He further said the strong voice emerging from FATA could hardly be silenced now. The pace of the reform process may be slow but this must have to happen in the time ahead. Mr. Yousufzai informed the floor that some 2386 development projects were in progress in FATA. Pakistan has fenced a total of 209-kilometer border in selected areas in FATA besides building posts and forts along the Pakistani border.

Earlier in his welcome address the Director of the Area Study Center Dr. Shabir Ahmad Khan while welcoming the distinguished guests said that the basic objectives of the conference was to develop better understanding of the issues and draw a difference between misperceptions and reality in FATA and Pak-Afghan border region.

He further added that British treaties in FATA contributed towards fragmented social control in FATA that resulted in strong society and week state in the FATA. The delivery of essential services improves state legitimacy, which is the citizen’s belief of the state right to rule over them, he explained. He suggested that Pak-Afghan border management would be instrumental in checking and curbing external interference in FATA. The Director said that dislocations in FATA have dismantled the old forms of social control and the space is there to allow new forms of social control to emerge.

Counting on the reasons for the menace of terrorism in FATA, the former Chief Secretary, and former Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan Mr. Rustam Shah Mohmand said that the backwardness and underdevelopment of the FATA region were some of the main causes of the rising tide of militancy in the troubled FATA. He emphasized the early rehabilitation of the TDPs followed by the mainstreaming of the marginalized tribal belt. He stressed the need for engagement with the people of FATA. He recommended formation of a commission to pacify the resentment of the people in FATA.

Dr. Azmat Hayat in his presentation clarified some of the misconceptions pertaining the Pak-Afghan border. He asked upon the government of Pakistan and Afghanistan to join their forces for fighting common enemy – the terrorism, through positive engagements in order to move forward towards a tolerant, integrated and progressive society for the marginalized people of the war hit areas in their respective countries. Brig. retired Muhammad Saad emphasized on reforms in FATA. He said that counter insurgencies effort will not be meaningful and successful unless the political and military authorities on both sides are engaged in settlement of the comprehensive issues.  

An Islamabad based political analyst Dr. Ashraf Ali said the passage of the bill on the extension of higher judiciary to the tribal areas has opened up the door for many more reforms to come down the road.

Dr. Muhammad Ali said FATA had suffered a lot. He warned that if we failed to address the sense of frustrations and deprivations developed by the people of the region this time too, this would not only be the people of FATA but the entire country to bear the brunt of consequences.


Ali Imran
Media Officer,
University of Peshawar