FATA is an area having an estimated seven million Pukhtuns. Another 28 million Pukhtuns also live in NWFP. The code of life by which un-elected people govern the FATA area is called Pukhtunwali. They do it through an elected Jirga, though, and the whole tribal system revolves around the Jirga. In August 2008, an operation was started in Bajaur to counter Taliban. This operation resulted in death of many Taliban insurgents. The government had the initial success but it was unable to win the hearts of tribal people because the war also resulted in the destruction of homes and livelihood of hundreds of thousands. And from it rose the problem of refugees. Hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes to absorb into cities or live in refugee camps. If the foreign involvement in FATA had made the situation worse, the persistent US drones attacks being perpetrated now are making the situation absolutely critical. The government has time and again tried to strike peace-deals with the Taliban but somehow or the other, these have not materialized. There have been blasts in Mardan, Kohat and Swat and as a result the government has launched operations even in the settled areas. The government needs to evolve its own strategy independent of the Americans. Dialogue is the only way. -AYESHA ALI, Rawalpindi, via e-mail, January 22.