Having something is one thing, and knowing the art how to use it for one’s good is altogether different. Reforms are being thought and have already been legislated to be introduced in the newly merged FATA. State writ is going to be imposed on the hitherto untamed. Without giving them due representation in the reforms’ sorting-out procedure is a preposterous proposition. I can imagine it being misconstrued as an assault on its culture. There is going to be police, judiciary, and suddenly, FATA is going to wake up to a king who is going to exercise his unlimited power like in the rest of Pakistan. Will the tribal people be able to willingly surrender their wilder liberty to his powers? No.

One does think why is it realised after 71 years of independence to give erstwhile FATA constitutional status? Is it because their lawlessness is no more needed? Will it be again turned into terrorists’ bastion if US postpones its troops’ pull-out from Afghanistan, or if there is another Martial Law?

Will the elderly, their role as judge in Jirgas, happily replace themselves overnight? What will happen to their beliefs, culture and that proudly put on turban? Will there be a separate set of fundamental rights for them?

Pondering reforms is of secondary importance. Primarily, government should find ways of its properly lubricated introduction. FATA’s rugged mountains are going to resist it strongly. Should reforms be legislated in Parliament? No. Rather, A Magna Carta or a Social Contract should mutually be reached between the rulers and the ruled. Before any step taken, it ought to be inclusively and extensively debated.

Currently, there is sort of anti-state sentiment and ill-feeling towards state. PTM is an empirical evidence to such a resentment and the overwhelming support it gets from the residents of FATA. State needs a counter narrative in order to appease them. PTM could positively be taken into confidence to further the state narrative. Moreover, there must be TEVTA and PSDF like organisations. These institutions should be aimed at acquainting the erstwhile FATA dwellers with rights and duties of citizens. FATA also needs stability. 70 percent of its population lives under poverty line. Literacy rate is 30 and 10 percent for male and female respectively. Research needs to be done. Most of the people are suffering from post-traumatic stress. They have developed phobias and among all, state-phobia is the ugliest.

The proposed legal framework is unintelligently mind-boggling. The Tribals Rewaj Act proposes two separate legal systems functioning simultaneously. The Act empowers Jirga giants to work at the trial stage in criminal and civil cases. However, it is not entitled to rule; rather it will hand over the findings to courts for a verdict. Is it really possible that the two could be aligned, or tribal customs could be incorporated into our constitution? There are 6 FR’s and 7 agencies. All of them have different customs to settle cases. It’s like the state is calling for inevitable tussle.

What about infrastructure and capacity? There is almost no infrastructure to accommodate the reforms. More importantly, where will the pool of human resource be provided from for the execution of these reforms? The bottom line is that government should initially train the individuals to be all ready for a change. Thereafter, the residents will willingly allow themselves for the overhaul.

Sadly, we are being institutionalised and are being brought into the ambit of law. We ought to have been streamlined. Initially, our trust in government should be restored, temporary rehab centres should be established, the devastating destruction in the wake of war on terror must be compensated for, and the displaced should be returned to their homes safely. The reforms were enthusiastically legislated, but its implementation is suffering a lackadaisical behaviour.

KHAIRULLAH,

South Waziristan, March 10.