“The lawmakers from tribal areas as

well as rest of the country should support this amendment as Pakistan could not be called a civilised country if it continued with such atrocious constitutional

provisions as well as laws like FCR,”

–Ijaz Khan Mohmand, President

of Fata Lawyers Forum, 2014.

As the debate around the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa picks up steam, it is important to look back at the history of the region, the reason for its autonomous status, and the instrument of this autonomy – the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), also referred to as the ‘black law’ in Pakistan.

Established in 1901 by the British Raj, they were specifically devised to counter the opposition of the Pashtuns to British rule, and their main objective was to protect the interests of the British Empire. As such it contains provisions that deny legal rights of representation, allows for punishment of family members for crimes committed by their relatives and other such oppressive measures.

Political power was granted to nobles through ‘political agents’ who commanded their own paramilitary force, the Frontier Rifles (pictured above) and did not answer to the populace. It is the legacy of those laws, and in many places the laws themselves, that govern FATA today – an Imperial, not democratic system.