Understanding FATA Volume – III (Dec, 2009)

Understanding FATA Volume - III (English)

Understanding FATA Volume - III (English)

The Community Appraisal & Motivation Programme (CAMP) is pleased to launch ‘Understanding FATA Volume -III: Attitudes Towards Governance, Religion and Society in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas.’

The Third opinion poll conducted in 2009, draws upon the views and feelings of the people in seven agencies and six frontier regions of FATA; opening a whole new window on the region and its people.

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CAMP has been conducting opinion polls with the people of FATA since 2007. This has been possible due to CAMP’s acceptability in the area and trust among the local communities. The polls have brought forward views on wide-ranging issues including governance, religion and society, human rights and the international community – opinions that the outside world knows little about.

As the name suggests, ‘Understanding FATA’ is a sincere attempt to provide a better understanding of what the people of FATA want, and what they think of issues that matter to them. The thoughts and feelings expressed through the poll will influence policy decisions within Pakistan and abroad.

4,000 adult men and women took part in the 2009 poll, which was conducted across the seven tribal agencies and three Frontier Regions of the FATA. The poll used proportionate stratified sampling and included 40% women, compared to 29.5% women in the 2008 poll.

  • An overwhelming 55.3% people were of the opinion that things in Pakistan are not going in the right direction, while only 16.7% felt they are going in the right direction. This shows the general despair among people in FATA.
  • Over 28% believed that the biggest problem facing Pakistan is terrorism and security, while the biggest problems facing the FATA, according to 13.93% is unemployment.
  • On the most important services that the Government of Pakistan should be providing, an overwhelming 62.9% said security, followed by electricity and tackling terrorism. Compared to the 2008 poll, the number of people who thought security is the most important has nearly doubled reflecting the need for better security in the area.
  • Regarding a question on the status of FATA, 21.8% want to keep the current arrangements while 19.4% want FATA to be fully integrated into NWFP. The latter is an interesting change from the 2008 poll, in which 34% would have liked to see the FATA integrated into NWFP.
  • Voicing their opinion on Swat, an overwhelming majority said political deals should be done with Sufi Muhammad, the militant commanders, and the law should be changed bringing in the Qazi courts. A smaller percentage was in favour of the army/security force operations to defeat militants. The poll was conducted before the failed peace deal in Swat in April 2009, after which the Army landed a military offensive.
  • 62 % are of the opinion that political parties should be allowed to organize and operate in the FATA, which is not much different from the opinion in 2008. The poll was conducted before President Zardari announced a package of political reforms for FATA in August 2009, though they have still to be implemented.
  • On human rights, respondents ranked democracy, independence of judiciary and women rights as the biggest human rights issues in Pakistan. An interesting change since 2008 was that more people in the 2009 poll thought women’s rights was a big human rights issue in the country.
  • The Radio is the most valued among the sources of information, followed by television and newspapers, revealing that the media is an important source of information in FATA.
  • A question on whether Afghan refugees’ should return to Afghanistan, an overwhelming 71% said they should – not much of a change in sentiments since 2008.
  • It is interesting to note that despite the deteriorating security situation in FATA, fewer people said they wanted to emigrate if given an opportunity. Approximately 34% want to emigrate if given the opportunity, while 46.1% would not like to emigrate.
  • An intriguing finding came from the question on what they would like for their children. The opinion for boys did not change much from the 2008 poll; in 2009 the respondents still wanted more education, more employment opportunities and more security. For girls however, while more security and more education were at the top, the need for pardah went up by 20% since the 2008 opinion poll.
  • Answering a question on whether there is any justification in Islam for suicide bombing, over 42% felt it is never justified while 7.2% felt it was often justified.

    There is a small change in the opinion of the people of FATA between 2008 and 2009. However it is clear that security and unemployment came up as issues that need to be prioritized.