More than 71 years have elapsed, yet citizens of Pakistan living in what was declared as FATA by British colonial rulers continue to be denied basic rights enshrined in constitution. Similarly hundreds of thousands living in Baluchistan are deprived basic necessities of life and access to education and health.
This sense of deprivation makes these citizens susceptible to exploitation by anti social elements. The British Raj was an occupation force whose sole purpose was controlling these areas through coercion and bribing tribal leaders through Political Agents. After independence steps should have been taken to amalgamate these areas not just physically but by giving them same basic rights, like access to justice, equal opportunities etc that are enjoyed by all citizens. Cantonments should have been relocated to border areas along Afghanistan and Iran and replaced with schools, hospitals and industries to generate employment. Unfortunately every political and military government has failed on this count. The vested interests who are beneficiaries of smuggling, narcotics etc have succeeded in prolonging status quo.
The State must win over hearts of angry youth of FATA and Baluchistan, instead of controlling them through coercion. Effective border management should have been done, to help imbibe sense of national identity. Instead of spending billions on controlling these areas 24/7 by paramilitary forces, half this money would have served the purpose by investing in social economic development schemes. We owe it to these people to vent out their anger peacefully and win their hearts and minds. Coercion alone will only serve to alienate them. FATA should be either merged in KPK or given status of separate province. Self government promised by Quaid through elected representatives must be given as a right to residents of FATA.
Lahore, March 22.