When in 2007 the TTP (Tehrik e Taliban) moved in and killed 260 elders leaving a vacuum, it created an atmosphere of fear in Fata never seen before. With them money poured in from different sources largely charities and some Muslim countries who wanted an Islamic Shariah rule in Pakistan and to make matters worse each one of them intent on promoting and perpetuating their own version.

For things to reach this point, the Army with its strategic depth paradigm is also to be blamed, though now it is reaping the whirlwind along with countrymen. The ongoing mêlée could have easily been resolved many years ago if Fata had been added to the territory of Pakistan instead of leaving it to fester like an open wound.

During the British Raj as they found it hard to rule, this became an independent entity, ruled by the ‘Frontier Crimes Regulations’ (FCR). These regulations were based on tribal rules and implemented through the local elders and by Jirga system which kept it outside of laws implemented in Pakistan.

There are many Pushtoon or Pathan tribes located in Fata, the Mehsud’s, Orakzai the Mohmands which were warring tribes having close family links to families in Afghanistan. As no development had taken place in the last several decades leaving the people bereft of education or skills, they may have welcomed the Taliban as their saviours. In the process many have lost family members in the drone attacks because of these intruders.

Many of the self proclaimed Al Qaida activists are not even Fata based force but largely foreigners who have infiltrated the area disguised as Taliban. Secret agreements between the tribes and the Pakistan Army could achieve no results. The main mediator between the government of Pakistan and the elders in Fata were the Political Agents, they had great power and ruled like kings benefiting from both side. Many tribes were not in league with the Taliban but refrained from standing against them to save their families and homes.

In 2009, the Mohmand tribe from the Bajaur agency tried to make a pact with the Pakistan Army but not much came of it. With no education these people were easily won over in the name of religion, the zest for becoming martyrs.

“We have created these monsters (Taliban) by the political system in Fata, if we merge the people of Fata into the mainstream life we can remove this plague once and for all and these people could become our strength,” A Peshawar based journalist said.

He also added that the land rich in minerals can be an asset, instead of being a problem that has become a sore point for the nation. The men inhabiting these towering mountains are proud and hard working. They face harsh elements without any hospitals or medical facilities without schools for their children or colleges for their youth. The government of Pakistan has done nothing to bring education or industry to this area and is reaping a harvest of stones now!

This beautiful mountainous area has been turned into a graveyard by the negligence and carelessness of passing governments. It could have been a tourist attraction or it could have been mined. How many treasures lie under the heart of the stones in Fata no one knows.

The writer is a staffer.

Email: lala1957@gmail.com