WITH a number of amendments in Frontier Crimes Regulation's (FCR) draconian provisions, another step has been taken towards bringing FATA into the modern age. This is an advance on the earlier move in December 1996 to introduce adult franchise in the tribal region. It is ironic while the Quaid-e-Azam had called off the British-era Forward Policy and had assured the tribesmen that the region would be brought at par with the rest of the country, the initial attempt to bring the FATA population into the mainstream began nearly 48 years after his death and that too hesitatingly. It is an irony that the people of FATA, who wholeheartedly supported the creation of Pakistan and subsequently acted as voluntary guardians of the country's Western Marches, thus obviating the need to station the Pakistan Army along the Pak-Afghan border, were neglected by one administration after another as if they did not exist. This led the region to turn into one of the most backward areas of the country, both socially and economically. Still another injustice to the tribesmen was to allow them to be used as cannon fodder in the US proxy war against the USSR. Extremist militants from all over the world were inducted into FATA while the region was turned into a major recruitment centre for the militants. The country is reaping the harvest sown together by the US and Pakistani agencies. By allowing political activity in FATA, the government has accepted one of the longstanding demands of all mainstream parties. This would hopefully put an end to the monopoly currently enjoyed by groups who do politics in the region under the garb of religion. The medieval law imposing collective punishment on an entire tribe for the misdoings of one or more of its members has been amended to exclude women and children below sixteen years. The restriction of the highly arbitrary administrative and judicial powers of the Political Agent is also a welcome step. The establishment of a FATA Tribunal having powers similar to those of the High Courts would provide some relief to the tribesmen who would have a right to appeal and bail. Now the access to the Auditor General to the FATA administration's accounts would introduce an element of transparency into the hitherto opaque and corruption-ridden system. While the reform package is welcome it cannot be introduced till the government's writ is established in FATA. As things stand the government's control is far from secure in a number of agencies, particularly in South and North Waziristan.