The political leaders of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) were allowed to join political parties with the extension of political parties order in 2011 for the first time in its history. The enthusiastic participation of the people of FATA proved their desire for democracy in the 2013 general elections.
Although the tribal people run their political, legislative, and executive affairs through their local institutions like Jirga, they are still hoping to see local government elections in FATA, someday. To make the existing institutions more democratic, which could guarantee equal rights and protection to tribal people, the political leaders and other stakeholders believe the local bodies’ elections are need of the hour. The elections would potentially strengthen democratic processes and improve living standards of the people in tribal areas which have been badly affected by militancy and military operations for over a decade.
To highlight the challenges of FATA, several political institutions are formed which are pushing hard for equal citizenship rights for the tribal people. All Political Parties Alliance, Political Parties Joint Committee on FATA Reforms, and the newly-formed Khyber Parties Alliance have formulated their reform packages to address the same issues and bring peace and democratic system in FATA.
The FATA political leaders and other stakeholders view FATA has been ignored as local bodies’ elections are being planned in all the provinces of the country with the beginning of year 2014. The political and financial powers vested with the administrative authorities in FATA are needed to be devolved for a meaningful and sustainable development in tribal areas. If local government institutions are established, it will formalise and strengthen the traditional institutions, and ensure equal rights to common tribesmen.
The FATA political leaders are constantly pushing the federal government and the president of the country to speed up efforts for strengthening democracy in the tribal areas but no movement has been seen in this regard as yet. Bringing meaningful reforms in the current tribal system by announcing local bodies’ elections are vital for promotion of peace in the region.
In a situation when the whole world is engaged in efforts for peace in FATA and the tribal belt, the government should undertake substantial initiatives to bring the existing system in FATA into political mainstream.