FATA which occupies an immense geo-strategic importance and home to around seven million people, has been in isolation ever since the British rule. With shabby infrastructure, poor economy and despairing education and health indicators, FATA is one one of the most backward and ill-developed regions of Pakistan. More than 70% of population lives in abject poverty depending mainly on cattle-rearing and agriculture. Average literary rate is 30%, far lower when compared to rest of the country. The picture becomes more gloomy when it comes to female education which is below 10%. Out of this figure a very small percentage makes it to the secondary level, whereas college and university education, are something that a tribal girl can only dream of. Poverty, lack of girls’ colleges in FATA, early marriages and more importantly customary barriers are the main reasons for this sorry state of affairs. Rise of militancy and the subsequent military operations further added to the woes of the people of FATA. About a million of the population is living as IDPs, either in camps or rented houses, in the adjoining settled areas. Many schools have either been blown off by the militants or they remain close due to volatile condition of the region. The IDPS children have been without school for several years because their families can’t afford to send them to expensive schools in cities. No government, whether Provincial or Federal, is prepared to take the responsibility of looking after the IDPs who left their homes for the future of this country. They are all on their own.

If FATA was brought into the mainstream immediately after the independence of Pakistan, militancy and other anti state elements might not have been able to make inroads into the tribal areas. Now as the Pak Army has done it’s job by cleansing the area from militants, it is now up to the civilian government to come forward and bring about comprehensive political, legal and economic reforms in FATA and abolish the black and colonial law of FCR once for all.

REHMAT ULLAH BETTANI,

Dera Ismail Khan, February 7.