Declining Influence of Pakistan Tribal Elders

The Tribal Elders' Role
During the British rule of undivided India, the tribal elders in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan made deals with the British government that were generally adhered to and kept the peace in the autonomous tribal region. This system continued after Pakistan's independence for several decades.
However, as the madrassahs proliferated in Pakistan's tribal areas since the early 1980s, there seems to be a new dynamic affecting the traditional role and influence of the FATA elders. The radical young graduates of these madrassahs are not willing to accept the traditional role of the elders and their decisions in all matters. There have been many instances of tensions reported between the local tribal elders and the Taleban on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghan border. In December 2007, AP reported that suspected Islamic militants fatally shot eight tribal leaders involved in efforts to broker a cease-fire between security forces and insurgents in Pakistan's volatile northwest.Last year, there were also several reports of clashes between the tribal elders and the Al-Qaeda operatives.

Madrassahs
Most of these madrassahs are boarding schools that provide free food, clothing, housing and education to the mostly poor kids in FATA, the Frontier and Baluchistan provinces. So, the basic reason for these institutions to exist is really the overwhelming needs for education and social services that the Government of Pakistan is unable to fulfill. The reason these institutions proliferated since the 1980s has its roots in the massive US/Saudi backing of the Afghan resistance against the Soviet invasion. The incentive for the US was to recruit and prepare fighters for "Jihad" in Afghanistan against the Russians. A key part of the education at these madrassahs included indoctrination and military training of the students which continues to this day. It is for this reason that the US now considers these institutions as purveyors of terrorist training. The changes in Pakistan's tribal areas set in motion during the 1980s to fight the Soviets are still affecting the entire South Asian region including Afghanistan, the Middle East and the world. Both Al-Qaeda and the Taleban movements have their roots in the Afghan war and the US support of it against the Soviet Union.

The Taleban & Al-Qaeda
The Taleban and Al-Qaeda have both become part of the tribal society in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They are a second power center after the tribal elders. And, I believe, there is an ongoing power struggle between them. It is this power struggle that is largely responsible for the scuttling of several peace agreements that the Musharraf government made with the tribal elders in Waziristan region. It is this situation that makes it difficult for Pakistan to do what the US has done in Al-Anbar province in Iraq with the support of the tribal sheikhs there.

Ideas for Solution
The real solution has to be political and diplomatic in the long term. It's absolutely essential that the fundamental issues of poverty that attract people to the madrassahs are addressed. This will require massive spending over a relatively short period of time. The US and Saudi Arabia are quite capable of such spending, as they have demonstrated during the Afghan resistance against the Soviets. In the meanwhile, both the Pakistani and the US governments must do everything possible to re-establish the role and influence of the tribal elders that want to make peace. At the same time, the war against the radicals challenging the authority of the elders must be conducted to avoid mass casualties of the ordinary folks in FATA. Indiscriminate bombing will not win any hearts and minds. It will only stoke the fires of revenge for a long time to come.

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Here's an Express Tribune story on Pak and US efforts to develop FATA:

Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani inaugurated a US-funded road project in South Waziristan Agency on Monday — a move that may indicate easing of tensions between the estranged allies.

The development is being seen as a significant one as the army chief has recently distanced himself from being associated with the Americans. Furthermore, Kayani inaugurated the Tank-Gomal-Wana Road amid reports that Washington had shown willingness to accept some of Islamabad’s demands, including an apology for last year’s Salala air strikes.

A Pakistani official described the development as ‘positive’ saying despite recent hiccups in relations between the two countries, the US continued to fund important projects in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

“The US is proud to partner with the government of Pakistan in rebuilding key roads and infrastructure in Fata,” said Karen Freeman, acting director of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission in Pakistan.

“We believe our joint efforts will bring commerce, jobs, trade and long-term security to this important region of Pakistan,” Freeman added.

The road connects to the US-funded 110 kilometre Tank-Makin Road, which was completed earlier this year at Kaur. The road will provide the people of Murtaza Kot, Nilikatch, Gomal Zam, Tanai, Tiarza and Wana in the South Waziristan Agency access to Tank, DI Khan and other parts of Pakistan, a statement issued by the US Embassy said.

USAID has contributed over $260 million for roads and other key infrastructure projects in Fata.

Meanwhile, the army chief attempted to strike a delicate balance when he suggested the military was compelled to launch an operation against militants in Waziristan.

However, after flushing out terrorists in the area, the army’s focus has now become centered on maintaining peace in the area by concentrating on rehabilitation and reconstruction activities, the army chief pointed out.

In a meeting with tribal elders, Kayani insisted that no army wanted to fight within its own borders.

“The army is concentrating on health and education facilities,” he added.

He also inaugurated Spinkai Ragzai Cadet College and reviewed the security situation besides ongoing developmental work in South Waziristan.

According to APP, Kayani said the army was deployed in the area on the demand of locals and would stay till the completion of development projects.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/395817/kayani-initiates-usaid-project-in-s-waziristan/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Dawn story on US AID projects in FATA:

The United States Agency for International Development will construct 200-kilometre roads in South and North Waziristan agencies in addition to undertaking longer term interventions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s education and health sectors.

Andrew Sisson, the agency’s mission director in Pakistan, told Dawn that the USAID had already constructed over 200km roads in South Waziristan and it was planning construction of additional 200km roads primarily in North Waziristan Agency and some in South Waziristan Agency.

“It (road construction) is an excellent investment in opening the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in terms of economy and business to the rest of the country,” he said.

The US agency, he said, had provided $201 million for roads linking North Waziristan and South Waziristan to the rest of Pakistan. He said that USAID was also planning to provide more resources for roads directly to the Fata Civil Secretariat later this year.

Similarly, the USAID signed an agreement in October last year for disbursing funds for the construction of irrigation network downstream Gomal Zam dam that, he said, would irrigate 120,000 cultivable acres, benefiting thousands of farm families. Some $9 million for construction irrigation network, he said, had been released to the Water and Power Development Authority in December last.

Mr Sisson said that investment in this part of Pakistan (KP and Fata), especially for education, health, infrastructure, community level activities, irrigation and business development, remained ‘a very high priority’ of the US government.

“We are budgeting for the future..we are hopeful that the funds would come after approval by our Congress,” said Mr Sisson, adding that the Obama administration was committed to maintaining high level of aid to Pakistan even during this rocky period (of relationship).

“Despite our relations, our aid levels are high,” he said, adding that his organisation would continue building schools in Fata and KP, which was a very important part of the bilateral relationship.

He said that their assistance to Pakistan was in the interest of the people of both the countries and that it had been achieving great results. The USAID-funded projects, according to him, put 400MW to the grid last year, some 500MW would be added to the system next year, and one million children went to schools constructed by the agency over the past few years.

“We want Pakistan to succeed, to be more stable and have a more prosperous economy,” he said, adding that their interest in Pakistan would continue no matter who was in power in the US.

He said that apart from funding five major interventions in the energy sector the US was looking into making other investments to help Pakistan overcome its energy sector. “We are in discussion with the government for carrying out feasibility studies for Diamer-Bhasha dam,” said the USAID director.

He said that the USAID was also assisting the Fata secretariat and the KP to help build their capabilities. Justifying delays in the execution of infrastructure projects in the KP and Fata, Mr Sisson said “Even in the United States complicated infrastructure projects don’t go on schedule and that’s very true in Pakistan (as well).”

He said that some of the infrastructure projects were being carried out in tough regions where security formed a major impediment to the on time completion of projects.

About corruption-free use of USAID funds, he said that except for two cases in which the USAID Office of Inspector General had collaborated with National Accountability Bureau, a majority of the projects had seen apt and honest use of funds.


http://dawn.com/2012/01/26/focus-on-rebuilding-roads-in-waziristan-2/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt of The News story about Parachinar in Kurram Agency in FATA:

The government and local administration would take affective steps to maintain peace and for this purpose elders were also being taken into confidence, he added.



During interaction with the elders and other segments of the society, Governor Masood Kausar said the government could not maintain peace and stability without the cooperation of local population.



He said the government was serious to build schools and roads and provide better health and education facilities for which peace was a must and that could not be maintained without sincere support of all tribes. “Kurram Agency should be a role model for the rest of tribal agencies in Fata and it cannot be achieved without support of local people,” he said and warned that troublemakers would not be provided space to derail peace process in the area.



During his visit to Parachinar Public School, Degree College for Women and Sports Complex, he said no efforts would be spared to impart quality education to the future builders of the nation and healthy activities like games would be encouraged.



He announced provision of computers to the college and laboratory equipment to the school. He was informed that about 1,244 girls were enrolled in the college and 961 were studying at the school.



However, the institutions were short of teaching staff which the governor promised to overcome. The girl students asked the governor to fill all vacant posts in the college and regularise contract teachers. He also laid foundation-stone for construction of a Polytechnic Institute and inspected its site and directed that work on the project be accelerated.



The governor also inaugurated the new building of Parachinar Press Club and administered oath to its newly elected office-bearers. He was generous enough to announce Rs200,000 for the Press Club, Rs50,000 each for the winner and runner-up cricket teams at the sports complex and thousands more for the schoolchildren presenting PT show and other performances. The governor also held an open Katcheri to listen to the grievances of the people.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-141696-Governor-says-situation-improving-in-Fata
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a BR story on Munda dam in Mehmend agency of FATA:

LAHORE: The European Union (EU) has provided 1.2 million Euros as grant to conduct climate change impact assessment study in Swat basin for Munda Dam multipurpose project, located in Mohmand Agency of the Federally Administered Areas (FATA).



A joint venture comprising two renowned firms namely AHT of Germany and NESPAK of Pakistan has also been appointed as consultants to carry out the studies, said Raghib Shah, Chairman of Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) here Sunday.



He said Munda Dam project was of immense importance for socio-economic development and poverty alleviation, as it would ensure water for irrigated agriculture, control floods and generate low-cost hydel electricity.



Thanking the EU for its support, he said, the grant would help implement this vital project.



At present, detailed engineering design and the tender documents of Munda Dam project were being prepared, for which French development agency AFD had committed to provide 11 million Euros to WAPDA, he maintained.



Underlining the need of foreign assistance for completion of the projects, he hoped that the EU would also provide financial support for construction phase of Munda Dam project.



The Chairman said that Munda Dam Project would store 1.29 million acre feet (MAF) of water for irrigation, while power generation capacity stands at 740 mega watt (MW), contributing about 2.4 billion units of electricity to the national grid every year.



Benefits of the project have been estimated at Rs. 20.2 billion per annum, he added.


http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/108-pakistan-top-news/90025-12mn-euros-for-munda-dams-climate-study-raghib-shah-.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's PakTribune on promoting livestock revolution in FATA:

PESHAWAR: To bring white revolution and fulfill people's meat demands, the government has decided to launch two mega projects for uplift of livestock sector in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) areas shortly to bolster income of tribal people especially of women folk.One of the mega projects is “Calves Fattening Project” that would be launched this month to fulfill the demands of quality meat of the ever growing population of the country. Official sources in Fata Livestock and Dairy Development told APP on Sunday that Calves Fattening Project would be launched in Frontier Regions of Peshawar, Kohat and Khyber, Kurram and Orakzai Agencies this month and would later be extended to other tribal agencies. He said it was a two-year project that would be completed with an estimated cost of Rs. 68 million.

A registered farmer/livestock owner, having cows or buffalos' calves (male) between 10 to 50 numbers would be provided free of cost technical support in formation of farms houses besides medicines, insemination, vaccination and fodder's services at their doorsteps, he added. It will be mandatory for the registered beneficiary livestock owner/farmers to look after and keep its calves in his/her farm for at least three months for provision of above services on constant basis by the Livestock Department. He said at least 3000 calves would be fattened in next two years under this Project.This would help improve the income of tribal people besides generating employment opportunities in Fata and will provide healthy and quality meat to consumers. Another project that is establishment of a model farm in Khyber Agency was also in pipeline and hopefully its PC-I would be completed this month and would be launched after completion of codal formalities, he added.

Under this project, 50 cows would be kept in the model farm for cross-breeding that would not only help produce quality and healthy breed but also increase per kilogram meat and milk production in Fata. The estimated cost of this project is Rs.100 million that would be launched in Khyber Agency on pilot basis soon. He said negotiations were underway with donor agencies for establishment of Milk Processing Plant in Fata to improve quality of milk and earn valuable foreign exchange for the country besides bringing economic improvement in the lives of tribesmen.These project will help support national efforts for poverty alleviation by providing a model for sustainable rural development through livestock-based income generating activities at the rural community level and will help reduces poverty, enhances development opportunities for women and poor farmers, improves household food security and nutrition.
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In addition to capacity building of doctors and veterinary assistants, he said mobile clinics project was successfully underway in Orakzai, Kurram, Khyber and Bajaur Agencies wherein specialist doctors and vetarnary assistants were providing quality services to farmers and livestock owners living in remote areas.These projects are aimed at to exploit the vast potential of livestock and dairy development in Fata and make it income-generating ventures for tribesmen to improve their life style.


http://paktribune.com/business/news/Rs-168m-projects-for-uplift-of-livestock-sector-in-Fata-10942.html
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan: Cabinet Approves 5-Year Plan To Merge Tribal Areas With Neighboring Province

https://www.stratfor.com/situation-report/pakistan-cabinet-approves-5-year-plan-merge-tribal-areas-neighboring-province


Pakistan's Cabinet approved on March 2 a five-year plan to merge the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in western Pakistan with the neighboring province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dawn reported. The plan includes proposals to repeal the colonial-era Frontier Crimes Regulations laws and to extend the authority of the country's supreme court into the region. Approving the plan represents a key development in Pakistan's bid to reform a region that has long been the epicenter of militancy. Still, the government has only approved the proposal in principle, and there will undoubtedly be complications surrounding the plan, including concerns some hold about the sovereignty of the tribes in the region. Deadlines to watch include the goal of repatriating all internally displacing persons in the tribal areas by April 30 and completing construction in war-torn parts of the areas by 2018. The process also includes a plan to send representatives from the tribal areas to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly in provincial elections in 2018. The history of the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas is one of resistance, underdevelopment and exploitation at the hands of foreign powers.


Riaz Haq said…
Federally Administered Tribal Area (Fata) Development Authority has completed seven small dams and 13 small irrigation schemes since 2004 to till date.

https://nation.com.pk/06-Mar-2018/seven-small-dams-13-irrigation-schemes-completed-in-fata-so-far

Official source told APP here today that as a result of completion of these projects a huge land has been brought under cultivation.

As some of these completed projects are multi-purpose, therefore, a huge population is also benefited by using clean drinking water.

Moreover, the power generation projects have been initiated by Fata Development Authority which will play key role in reducing the energy crisis after their completion.

So far, Fata DA has completed these projects including Dargai Pal Small Dam, SWA, Dandy Small Dam, NWA, Moto Shah Small Dam Mohmand Agency, Sheen Kach Small Dam FR Tank, Zao Small Dam, Khyber Agency,Kand Small Dam, NWA, Ping Small Dam, FR Bannu, Sheen Warsak Irrigation Scheme, SWA, Musa Nikka Irrigation Scheme, SWA, Zeera Letta Irrigation Scheme, SWA, Sadda Weir Lower Kurram, Agency, Walai Killi Bazar Zakha Khel Irrigation Scheme, Khyber Agency,Pir Qayum Drinking Water, Kurram Agency, Makha Zai Irrigation Scheme, Kurram Agency, Zarwam Irrigation Scheme, FR Bannu, Jallandar Irrigation Scheme, Kurram Agency, Shahbaz Sum Irrigation Scheme, Kurram Agency, Shawa Irrigation Scheme, NWA, Maula Khan Sarai Irrigation Scheme, SWA.
Riaz Haq said…
#Afghan students attending school in #Pakistan's #FATA has dropped by 75% but #terrorism-related incidents have also plummeted to their lowest levels on the Pakistani side since the border fence was built. @TRTWorld https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/fighting-the-fence-how-some-afghans-cross-the-pakistan-line-for-learning-25659


Abdul Raziq Shinwari has been running a school near the edge of the border on the Pakistani side for more than a decade. He says that since visas and passports were now mandatory, the number of students admitted has fallen to half their former capacity and Afghan students, in particular, by 75 percent.

“We used to have 600 Afghan students, which are down to 150 now,” he said.

“Our school was closed off to Afghan students for most of 2017 due to the unrest and the border closure. Many lost out on their 9th and 10th grade exams and became school dropouts.”

Though students have since been exempted from the travelers’ conditions, they have to carry around a white-coloured card.

Sheraz Khan is one such student. The 14-year-old says he crosses the border because the standard of education on the Afghanistan side remains lower given that subjects are taught in Pashto.

“Here, we study in English,” he says. “How can we advance in life using only our mother tongue?

“It was fun coming in groups to school. I now travel all by myself from my area.”

He says several schools in his area were blown up by Taliban and Daesh terrorists.

“I have seen explosives being placed inside schools with my own two eyes,” says Khan.

“That is why we have to cross the border to ensure we get a decent education.”

He says the security situation at their end isn’t safe and that his family doesn’t let him venture out after sunset. “We even prefer to offer evening prayers at home,” says Khan.

He points to the white ID that enables him to cross the border.

“This card will ultimately guarantee that I fulfil my dream of becoming a doctor.”

Kabul, which has never accepted the area to be an international border, insists the area remains disputed and that is precisely why fence construction has angered the Afghan government.

Zardasht Shams, Afghanistan’s deputy ambassador to Pakistan, said the Afghan government has repeatedly objected given that the fence would quite literally create a wedge between people of common cultural and ethnic descent.

“Our position is very clear. It’s a unilateral and counterproductive measure,” said Shams, who added that countering terrorism and infiltration requires more viable and practical efforts.

And yet, terrorism-related incidents have plummeted to their lowest levels on the Pakistani side since the fence was built. Bombings were widespread and frequent prior to that, especially along the border.

Islamabad is adamant that the construction of the fence will be completed by the middle of next year.

Islamabad says the fact that Afghan students can enter without a visa, something most countries would never accept, shows that education isn’t hindered by the fence.

Still, many feel the crunch.

“The new border management system may be good for the Pakistani government but it has caused a lot of difficulties for people on both sides of the border,” says Mira Khan.

The 19-year-old from the Gardi Ghous area of Nangarhar Province, says he would have to wake up at 5 a.m. to get to school in time.

Like most Afghans, he would run his father’s shop after school to earn his expenses.

“I was running a shop at the same time as studying,” he said. “My father died last year. People here are poor. Some even take on hard labor to put themselves through school.”

“The security situation has improved since the Afghan government launched a series of anti-terror operations,” says Khan, adding that the concept of women getting education doesn’t exist in his area.

Some say the fence divides families since tribes living on either side often have family connections.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan’s development assistance to #Afghanistan has reached US$1 billion and the country’s development assistance is geared towards investment in #infrastructure, #education, #health, #agriculture and capacity building of Afghan professionals. https://nation.com.pk/15-Jun-2018/pakistan-s-development-assistance-to-afghanistan-reaches-1-billion-us-envoy

BEIJING: Pakistan Ambassador to China, Masood Khalid said on Friday that Pakistan’s development assistance to Afghanistan has reached US$1 billion and the country’s development assistance is geared towards investment in infrastructure, education, health, agriculture and capacity building of Afghan professionals.

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Pakistan has made singular contribution in education by extending 6,000 fully funded scholarships to Afghan students while100 seats have been reserved for women annually, he said in an exclusive interview with a Chinese magazine “China Investment” here.

He informed this year around 750 Afghan students joined Pakistani universities to pursue their education in Pakistan.

Pakistan, he said, has setup healthcare facilities in Afghanistan including three hospitals, i.e, Jinnah Hospital Kabul, Naib Aminullah Khan Loghari Hospital and Nishtar Kidney Center in Jalalabad.

The ambassador said the Pakistan government also initiated capacity building projects for Afghan healthcare professionals, under which 59 Afghan medical professionals including doctors, nurses, and technicians successfully completed their training in 2017.

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In addition, 42 Afghan healthcare professionals will start training at Institute of Kidney Diseases Peshawar, he added.

Masood Khalid said that Pakistan is also assisting Afghanistan in capacity building in the fields of agriculture, banking, railways, military and diplomacy.

Multiple Afghan agricultural professionals have undergone training in “Quarantine and Plant Protection” in Pakistan, he said and added, 20 fully funded scholarships will be provided to officials of Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock to pursue their professional studies at Faisalabad Agricultural University.

He said a fresh batch of railway professionals will soon be trained at Pakistan’s Railway academy, Lahore.

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The ambassador said that Pakistan aims to continue providing assistance to Afghanistan in different fields for capacity building of Afghan institutions and professionals so that they contribute to the betterment of their people.

In this regard, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China are engaged closely through Practical Cooperation Dialogue. Pakistan and China have asked Afghanistan to identify areas in which the countries could provide necessary training and arrange capacity building courses for Afghan professionals.

About the achievement and significance of trilateral dialogue among China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, he said the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Afghanistan and Pakistan last year in June.

He informed that the three countries agreed to establish the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Minister’s dialogue to strengthen cooperation in areas of mutual interest, beginning with economic cooperation.

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The first meeting of the Foreign Minister’s level dialogue was held in Beijing on December 26, 2017.

He said the dialogue was focused on three major areas namely deepening mutually beneficial cooperation, advancing connectivity under the Belt and Road initiative and fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

“The three sides reaffirmed their support for a broad-based and inclusive peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-owned and Afghan-led. The trilateral forum will contribute to the greater connectivity, economic prosperity and peace and development of the three countries and the region,” he added.


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