FCR and Fata reforms By Mahmood Shah - Monday 4th April 2011

REFORMS in the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) have been frequently debated without producing any definitive results, mainly because of a poor understanding of inter- and intra-tribal complexities and the system of governance prevalent in the tribal area.
The FCR is not just a document detailing punishments for various crimes. It constitutes a complete system of governance for Fata, and considering this function, is extremely sketchy. Moreover, any tinkering with this inadequate document could result in the loss of governmental control in the region.
In order to formulate an effective and comprehensive national counter-terrorism strategy for the rapidly changing environment of the region, the foremost objective ought to be to secure the borders in the strategic sense. This means not only physical border security but also the complete overhauling of the system of governance in Fata.
Except for the main roads and the cantonments, the FCR sources out the security of the entire area to the tribes. The khasadari system allows for a fixed allowance that is paid annually to each tribe according to the area of their responsibility. If a tribe fails to discharge this function efficiently, the FCR authorises the government to take prescribed action against it through the ‘collective’ and ‘territorial’ sections of the FCR.
Under the current circumstances, the tribes are finding it difficult to meet their obligations and are yet reluctant to give up the privileges the responsibility brings. The present system of governance is not just insufficient in terms of law and order requirements, it is also an obstacle in developing the area. Improvements could attract investors who would bring job opportunities that would turn the area’s residents into contributing citizens.
Over the past 60 years, the current system has produced a few billionaires on the one hand, and pushed ordinary tribesmen below subsistence level on the other. Despite the danger and personal risks attendant to being posted in Fata as a bureaucrat, it is nevertheless a sought-after posting.
What is required is a well-thought-out alternative system of governance which caters to both the state’s law and order requirements and the traditions and aspirations of the tribal people. The system prevalent in the rest of the country — that of the police, judiciary and revenue collection — is not acceptable to the tribesmen. Therefore, a hybrid system will have to be evolved. This would need to be implemented gradually and tactfully by a dedicated team headed by a governor selected on merit. Resistance by vested interest groups should not be underestimated.
The reform agenda would have to start with reorganising the law-enforcement agencies, and in certain cases a law-enforcing force may have to be raised from scratch. If the word ‘police’ is unacceptable to the tribesmen, the concept of an ‘amniat’, or ‘peace’ force that has an amniat chowki instead of a police station may gain currency. The amniat force would have to be set up as a complete system, down to tehsil, sub-division and agency levels. The plan will need to include investigation and prosecution procedures, and allow for the construction of jails and the extension of jail manuals. While a great deal of similar nuts and bolts of reform are thought out and gradually implemented, the khasadari system and the concept of collective/territorial responsibility may have to be maintained for some time.
Judicial reform in the area would involve the setting up of courts under munsifs, while jirgas should, as juries, be made part of the system. Jirga members should be elected by the tribes for a four-year period, and the munsif could nominate the jury for each case from this list of elected jirga members. Tribesmen prefer to be tried under their riwaj, which is well known across Fata. Substantial magisterial powers should remain with the political administration initially but be shifted to the courts as the system becomes more stable.
Meanwhile, administrative reforms would aim at developing each agency in a manner similar to districts in settled areas, for service delivery purposes. Much has already been done in this regard. For effective monitoring, the political administration should head the service departments at the agency level and at the Fata secretariat level there should be technical heads of various departments. The introduction of a local government system may be premature, but the malik’s office could be made an elected one, for a five-year term.
Similarly, jirgas could be elected which may act in an advisory capacity to the political agent in terms of formulating a yearly development budget and assisting in the monitoring. Financial reforms would be needed to ensure that the development funds are spent wisely, and to gradually bring the funds collected by the political administration under a proper accounting system.
The purpose is to make the tribesmen stakeholders in the system to the greatest extent possible. The question of whether Fata should become part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa should be deferred. Later on, the matter can easily be determined through a referendum. However, the current structural arrangements — where the Fata secretariat is headed by an additional chief secretary who works under the chief secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — and the consequent rules of business violate Clause 1 and Articles 246 and 247 of the Pakistani constitution. The Fata secretariat should be headed by a Fata secretary working directly under a governor and the president of Pakistan. There are no adverse implications in extending the Political Parties Act to Fata, and this can be done through a notification issued by the president’s office. Nothing significant should initially be expected given the currently coercive environment in the region. However, any sort of modest gains should be welcomed.
It would be essential for the country’s political leadership to take the military on board before initiating such reforms. The role of the Frontier Corps as well as the army units in the area would be crucial while reforms are being implemented. Nobody comprehends better than the military the importance of the need to secure our borders. This can be achieved through changing the system of governance in the area.

The writer is a retired brigadier, former secretary Fata and home secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.


Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/05/fcr-and-fata-reforms.html

No comments:

Post a Comment