The tribal areas of NWFP are, generally, designated as FATA. This part of our people is at the receiving end today due to the polemic policies pursued by the federal government recently. Even the provincial government of NWFP lacked the grit to voice their lawful support for their, generally, aggrieved brethren. It is often claimed by those holding power in Peshawar for the last seven years that they tried to soft-pedal the excesses envisaged by Islamabad. However, the fact remains that it may be good politics for enjoying power but it is contrary to the traditions which, generally, took pride in avoiding and accepting fair as foul and vice versa. As Larry Collins and Dominique have conceded in, their rather influenced book, Freedom at Midnight: "Those Frontier Wars were a kind of deadly game, fought to cruel rules but still infused with just a touch of the playing fields of Eton." Like today powers-that-be, the authors are artlessly overlooking the gross asymmetry of power between the combatants. Unfortunately, because of widespread ignorance, our people hardly know much about the contribution of these, generally, brave tribes in inducing NWFP to join Pakistan. hanks to efforts of the sincere Muslim League leadership, the whole area got galvanised to vehemently oppose the Congress or their local allies. Without understanding anything, generally, of what the Quaid-i-Azam talked, the average tribal trusted the honest man who had emerged as the beacon of hope for his pestered people pending British withdrawal from India. The unease of the colonials about the area is aptly reflected by Viceroy Lord Minto's remark in 1879: "A friendly native, is one who shoots you at night, whereas a hostile one shoots you in the day." Appreciating the hazards of stretching the white man' burden-myth to this area, a cold peace became the goal involving minimal financial burden. A gaunt framework of administrative input was devised whereby, as per Philip Woodruff, "The soldier had his training ground, and the political officer was free to tramp the hills after partridge and keep down the murders as much as he could;...." Before the projected-Referendum, Nehru started impressing upon the government in Peshawar to mobilise support for the D-Day. The Muslim League responded by explaining to the people what dangers a Hindu majority government could unleash. Jawaharlal wanted to take a trip to the tribal areas as member External Affairs in the Viceroys' Executive Council to bolster the Congress-cause. He was advised against it, particularly, by Sir Olaf Caroe, the Governor of NWFP and an authority on Pathans / Afghanistan. Defying reason and sound advice, his trip to Peshawar/ agencies in October 1946 proved a nightmare because of the vociferous/massive protests. In Malakand, his car was stoned and he sustained some injury to his own surprise and the utter embarrassment of his hosts. As against that, the tribal people were all for the man who promised them a country where Muslims would rule for ensuring collective benefits of development or freedom. The Quaid never forgot the great role played by these, generally, freedom-loving Souls. He was accorded the greatest honour when he visited them. After becoming GG he dealt personally with the Department created to look after the Tribal Affairs. On a personal note, his gesture of esteem was even more touching. While distributing his huge fortune close to his death (unheard of among Muslims), he bequeathed 1/3 of it to Islamia College Peshawar, which is my college, and the rest to Sindh Madrassa Karachi where he had studied as a youngster and to Aligarh University for its stupendous efforts to organise the Muslims in India till the D Day dawned. The current mess in FATA, generally, is the product of the recent repression launched by the Musharraf-regime. It hurts more when the tribesmen believe that this is being done on "orders" from abroad. History and Olaf Caroe would bear out that the tribal man, generally, does not surrender smoothly; just as he does not forgive a wrong done easily. Nature has given him proverbial patience plus persistence for taking revenge or making a settlement sanctioned by the trite traditions. After independence, we, generally failed to manage the area in the tradition successfully set-up by the British. This appears, mainly, to have been caused by lack of dedication, objectivity, integrity and petty-minded micro-management despite some honourable exceptions. It seems that finding some employment opportunity, the tribal took to cross-border trade which attracted the mischief of law on smuggling. Believing ardently in supply and demand theory, opium etc was produced for the sellers-market. Such unhealthy trends have created turmoil in the agencies as the common people still remain very poor and deprived. The standoff has to end for promoting normalcy in our country. Even Afghanistan would benefit by its ripple effect. The elected-coalition has been trying to gradually modify the current policy to promote peace in the area through mutual consultation etc. It may not be a walkover but it is the best we can do to defang terrorism as only force does not work. Despite confusing signals about the ground realities in the area confounded by statements etc from US/Kabul, the people still court traditions, generally, and sense of honour heads the menu. To win them over even while our army stays deployed, we must provide dedicated and honest political machinery backed up by a government which should be able to inspire confidence and hope through bona fide actions. As poverty pervades the society, illiteracy has increased the hold of the mullah. This would have given a fillip to extremism, particularly, on the religious front. During Afghan jihad, supremely surreal mantras were spread by our American friends to enlist "cannon fodder" for defeating the Soviets in Afghanistan. Now declaring them bad guys, who deserve short shrift, has only provoked mass-anger. Despite the asymmetry of power between the parties, defiance persists which is helped by tradition of brave resistance and now extremism. To demonstrate our goodwill, three things must be done quickly. First, labour-intensive projects involving small-industry, water-conservation, road-making etc should be launched to usher in a different scenario. Second, Rag-tag arms industry should be got upgraded and regulated so that it can supply arms to the home-market as well as abroad. Third, massive efforts should be made to promote forestry using new techniques with the help of US etc. Such a step would, if successful, lay the foundation through which many down-stream initiatives shall develop. It would also improve the physical environment which is sure to influence the social milieu. The writer is a former secretary interior E-mail: