The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) include seven Agencies viz Bajaur, Orakzai, Mohmand, Khyber, Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan, and the tribal areas adjoining Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Lakki Marwat and Tank districts. Article 247 provides for governance of these areas in a manner altogether different from the rest of Pakistan. The tribal areas are administered by the Governor NWFP as per directions given by the President of Pakistan. No Act passed by parliament applies to the tribal areas except to the extent permitted by the president. The president has the power to make laws for the tribal areas in respect of any matter within the legislative competence of parliament. The president can also make regulations, with respect to any matter, for the peace and good governance of these areas. Neither the Supreme Court nor the High Court can exercise any jurisdiction in relation to the tribal areas unless the parliament by law provides otherwise. There is, therefore, no constitutional guarantee of fundamental rights for the citizens of FATA as enjoyed by citizens in the rest of Pakistan. With an estimated population of about 3.50 million FATA has 12 representatives in the national assembly and 8 in the senate. These representatives can make laws for the rest of Pakistan but not for the areas they represent. The administrative set-up includes, at Islamabad, the ministry of states and frontier regions and, at Peshawar, the FATA civil secretariat under the Governor NWFP. In the field the administrative and law and order set-up includes the political agents, like the maliks, the khassadars/levies and the frontier corps. The governing law is the Frontier Crimes Regulation which is administered through the tribal jirgas and not through the courts of law. Responsibility for the crime committed by a member of a tribe is the collective responsibility of that tribe which then proceeds to punish its own offending member. The insurgency commenced in 2002 in South Waziristan. It is probable that non-locals were largely responsible. Talibanised elements were responsible for spreading these disturbances into North Waziristan in 2004. There was sabotage of government installations and considerable cross-border movements and attacks. Afghans, Chechens, Uzbeks and others crossing into North Waziristan were given shelter by the local tribes as part of their rewaj. From North Waziristan the talibanisation spread into Bajaur and Mohmand Agencies, as also into the frontier regions of Bannu and Kohat districts. In Kurram Agency the violence was sectarian in nature leaving hundreds of Sunnis and Shias dead in its wake. The government attempted to meet this problem through a number of peace agreements with the militants including the Shakai Peace Agreement with the Wazir Tribe (South Waziristan) in 2004, the Sararogha Agreement with the Mehsud Tribe (South Waziristan) in 2005, the Eviction of Foreigners Wana Agreement in 2007, the Peace Accord with the Utmanzai Wazir Tribe (North Waziristan) in 2006 and the Peace Accord (North Waziristan) in 2008. These agreements and accords have resulted in eviction of some foreigners and intermittent peace but none of these agreements have proved to be lasting in nature. Who is responsible for the breakdown of each successive agreement? The government of the locals or the foreigners in FATA or some outside power? The causes of militancy are not far to seek. If a majority of people in the rest of Pakistan feel that we are fighting the US war on terror and not our own, for the citizens of FATA this is a religious belief. The hatred caused by thousands of civilian casualties is accentuated by the perceived failure of the State to effectively address very real economic and social deprivation. There is no statistical documentation of poverty levels in FATA. However, studies conducted by the Asian Development Bank in 2006 reveal that drinking water is in short supply throughout the region, infant and child mortality rates are higher than in the rest of Pakistan, education facilities are deficient in most villages and practically non-existent for girls, literacy rates are the lowest in the country and health facilities are substandard at best. The ADB study estimates that 60 percent of the people in Bajaur, Mohmand and Khyber live below the poverty line and that the female literacy rate in FATA as a whole is about 3 percent. There are between 800 to 1000 madrassahs that have filled the gap created by the State's failure to cater for the educational needs of the people. They provide free education, free food and free clothing to their students. Their affiliation is mostly with the Deobandi and (in Kurram) Shia schools of thought. It serves no purpose to say that they are the breeding grounds for militancy in the absence of any real effort to set-up government schools providing equally good, if not better, facilities. Less than 7 percent of FATA land is arable and hence agriculture sector development has to concentrate on the potential for growth in livestock, fodder and milk production. The region has considerable deposits of marble, copper, limestone and coal which can be the basis for the establishment of industries that utilise these minerals. In the absence of a vibrant private sector it is the government and its agencies that will have to play a leading role in the socio-economic development of FATA for many years to come. Large development outlays for FATA are required but the pre-requisite for the success of such development programmes is durable peace in the area and "ownership" of these programmes by the people. What is the way forward? The eventual goal must be to integrate FATA into Pakistan in a manner that over time it is no different from any other part of Pakistan. With this final goal in mind, the question is on how and in what time frame to get there. One immediate step could be to constitute an elected council for FATA in the same manner as the Legislative Council for the Northern Areas. The 36-member Legislative Council for the Northern Areas has legislative powers in respect of 49 subjects and its own chief executive. The FATA Legislative Council could eventually be transformed into a provincial assembly once the time is ripe to reconstitute FATA into a separate province of Pakistan. The alternative option of absorbing FATA into the NWFP is there but this would require, amongst other things, the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the total membership of the provincial assembly and there may be strong objections to such absorption both in NWFP and in FATA. Article 247(6) of the constitution requires the president to ascertain the views of the people of the tribal areas, as represented in tribal jirgas, before directing that any tribal area shall cease to be a tribal area. The next step that could be taken is the extension of the Political Parties Act to FATA. If the citizens of FATA are to be encouraged to think and go beyond tribal loyalties then they must have the right and opportunity to form and join political parties. Another change that should be made immediately is the establishment of a separate High Court or Chief Court for FATA and to give to such court the power to enforce fundamental rights and to serve as an appellate court from tribal jirgas in place of the appellate tribunal which is part of the FATA administration. The "decision" to repeal the Frontier Crimes Regulations requires re-consideration. The view of the tribal jirgas and perhaps an elected FATA Legislative Council and the MNAs and senators from FATA should be taken into account before this is done. At the field level the administrative structure surely needs the re-establishment of the authority of the political agents backed by a sizeably larger frontier corps. As in the rest of Pakistan the armed forces should be available in aid of civil power and not otherwise except of course to prevent cross-border movement of arms and armed personnel in either direction. There remains the question of our involvement in the War On Terror being waged by the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan and the continuing threat of the spillover of this war into FATA, if not beyond. This is a matter that cannot be resolved without the aid and involvement of the armed forces in accordance with the policy directives clearly laid down for them by the federal government. The policy directives must necessarily include a recognition that crossborder movements for the purpose of attacks on US and NATO forces and the Karzai government in Afghanistan cannot be permitted because failure to prevent such movements and attacks will lead, sooner rather than later to US strikes and attacks in FATA and elsewhere with catastrophic consequences for peace and harmony throughout Pakistan. The writer is a former governor of Punjab and senior advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan