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Pakistan: Countering Militancy in PATA
Pakistan: Countering Militancy in PATA
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
Building a Just Peace for Women in Pakistan’s Tribal Belt
Building a Just Peace for Women in Pakistan’s Tribal Belt
Report 242 / Asia

Pakistan: Countering Militancy in PATA

To overcome the security challenges and curb extremism in Pakistan’s Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA), its national and provincial leaderships should reclaim the political space ceded to the military.

Executive Summary

Pakistan’s Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA), which include Swat and six neighbouring districts and areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KPK), remains volatile more than three years after military operations sought to oust Islamist extremists. Militant groups such as the Sunni extremist Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) and its Pakistani Taliban-linked Fazlullah faction are no longer as powerful in Swat and other parts of PATA as they were in 2008 and early 2009, but their leaders and foot soldiers remain at large, regularly attacking security personnel and civilians. If this once dynamic region is to stabilise, PATA’s governance, security and economic revival must become a top priority for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government in Islamabad and the Awami National Party (ANP)-led government in Peshawar – and for their successors following the next general elections.

While the militants continue to present the main physical threat, the military’s poorly conceived counter-insurgency strategies, heavy-handed methods and failure to restore responsive and accountable civilian administration and policing are proving counter-productive, aggravating public resentment and widening the gulf between PATA’s citizens and the state. Meanwhile neither the federal nor the KPK provincial government is fully addressing the security concerns of residents.

Public and political support for action against the TNSM and allied Pakistani Taliban networks in Swat and its neighbouring districts remains strong, demonstrated by the outrage against the 9 October 2012 attack by Mullah Fazlullah’s Taliban faction on Malala Yousafzai, a Swat-based fourteen-year-old activist for girls’ right to education. That attack has also further eroded public confidence in the military’s claims of having dismantled the insurgency and underscores the grave security challenges that PATA’s residents face.

The military’s continued control over the security agenda, governance and administration in PATA and the state’s failure to equip KPK’s police force with the tools and authority it needs to tackle extremist violence lie at the heart of the security and governance challenges. Some serious efforts have been made to enhance police capacity, functioning and presence on the streets, including by increasing the size of the force and the number of police stations, particularly in Swat. However, they are insufficient. The KPK police should be properly trained, equipped, and accountable. Islamabad and Peshawar, KPK’s provincial capital, need to abolish parallel law enforcement entities such as Levies, dismantle state-supported tribal lashkars (militias) and give KPK’s police the lead in enforcing the law and bringing extremists to justice.

Yet, the complexities of PATA’s legal framework still make upholding the rule of law a daunting task. Unlike the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), PATA is subject to Pakistan’s basic criminal and civil law framework and falls under the jurisdiction of the provincial KPK legislature (in addition to the National Assembly) and the Peshawar High Court and Supreme Court. However, under Article 247 of the constitution, laws apply to PATA, as in FATA, only if specifically extended by the governor (the federation’s representative), with the president’s consent.

Since formally joining KPK (then called Northwest Frontier Province) in 1969, PATA has also been governed by various parallel legal systems that have undermined constitutional rights and isolated it from the rest of KPK. More recent reforms have only expanded that isolation. Despite public opposition to Islamist militancy in Swat and neighbouring PATA districts, the ANP-led provincial government has not repealed the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation 2009, which imposed Sharia (Islamic law) in PATA as part of a military-devised peace deal with the Taliban-allied TNSM in April 2009. In August 2011, President Asif Ali Zardari promulgated the Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation 2011 (AACP) for PATA and FATA, vesting the military with virtually unchecked powers of arrest and detention and further undermining fundamental rights and the rule of law. While the AACP provides legal cover for the military’s human rights abuses, the imposition of Sharia has made effective and accountable governance elusive.

Efforts to revive a shattered economy, once heavily dependent on tourism, have also faltered, and pressing humanitarian needs remain unmet because of continued instability and short-sighted military-dictated policies and methods. These include travel restrictions on foreigners, stringent requirements for domestic and international NGOs, abrasive and intrusive questioning at military checkposts and the military’s deep economic encroachment.

To overcome PATA’s rising security challenges, the national and provincial leaderships should reclaim the political space ceded to the military. Islamabad and Peshawar must develop and assume ownership over a reform agenda that ends PATA’s legal and political isolation, strengthens a deteriorating justice system, revokes laws that undermine constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights and fully integrates the region into KPK.

Islamabad/Brussels, 15 January 2013

Op-Ed / Asia

Building a Just Peace for Women in Pakistan’s Tribal Belt

Originally published in The Diplomat

The renewed militancy prompted by the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan threatens hard-won gains for the women of northwest Pakistan.

While the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan made headlines all over the world, one consequence of their return to power has received much less publicity: the resurgence of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in neighboring Pakistan. Also known as the Pakistani Taliban, the TTP has multiplied attacks on Pakistani security forces in recent months, often from Afghan soil.

This renewed militancy could have particularly grave implications for women and girls in Pakistan’s Northwest, bordering Afghanistan. Defying all odds, women in this deeply conservative region have in recent years made major strides in gaining access to justice, and toward political and economic empowerment.  But much as the Taliban authorities are rolling back women’s rights in Afghanistan, the TTP’s re-emergence as a prominent actor in the area could soon jeopardize these hard-won gains.

Women’s activism within the region’s civil society-led social movements contributed to the July 2018 passage of the 25th amendment to the Pakistani constitution, integrating the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The amendment granted residents of the former FATA full constitutional rights and judicial protections, and ended the separate constitutional status of the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA).

Read the full article on The Diplomat's website.