Pakistan’s unilateral decision to merge FATA with KP

Sunday, 05 March 2017 03:38 Written by  Heart of Asia Read 308 times

Pakistan seizes every opportunity to annex regions to which Afghanistan lays claim. In its recent move, Pakistan’s federal cabinet decided to integrate the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which historically remained autonomous, into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province in the next five years. 

 

The decision has provoked reactions from people on both sides of the Durand Line. In addition to the opposition of some politicians from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the decision, residents of the tribal belt have reportedly held gatherings to show their protest against it. Usman Kakar, a member of the Senate of Pakistan from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has even termed the decision a clear enmity with Pashtuns.  

The merger of FATA with KP has both proponents and opponents on the other side of Durand Line, and both sides have their own reasons. Deciding the fate of FATA falls outside the authority of Pakistani government. Neither international laws nor any agreements imposed on the people in this respect provide for such a unilateral action. 

Prior to any decision about the fate of Durand Line between Afghanistan and Pakistan, such actions by Islamabad are both provocative and one-sided. Meanwhile, the silence of Afghan government on the issue is also flatly unjustifiable. It is right that Afghanistan is embroiled in a predicament and may not be able to address the problems of its people, yet the Durand Line, as a national cause, should never be forgotten. 

Although Durand Line, as a de facto frontier imposed on Afghan side by the colonial-era British India in 1893 dividing ethnic Pashtuns as one of the world's largest societies into two, did not have a legitimacy from the very beginning because of the unrecognition of Afghanistan as an official boundary between the two countries, its 100-year validity term has already expired in 1993. Accordingly, such a decision about the fate of the disputed regions should not be made prior to the settlement of the territorial claim as per internationally accepted norms and principles. Also, deciding the destiny of contested areas is beyond the authority of governments, and the people of those regions should decide their fate themselves in the light of existing global norms. 

Exploiting the compulsions of tribal people and Afghanistan, the Panjabi-dominated Pakistani government rather further complicates the issue by making such unilateral decision, which serves the interests of neither side, particularly the autonomous tribal people who have been the victims of a big conspiracy, and deprived of better life for years.