ISLAMABAD, February 29th, 2012 – A report titled “Understanding FATA – Vol. 5 (Attitudes towards Governance, Religion and Society in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas)”, was launched by the Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme (CAMP) in Islamabad’s Serena Hoteltoday, Wednesday, February 29th, 2012.
The ‘Understanding FATA’ research report is based on the opinions of 4,000 respondents with an equal number of males and females and 18 focus group discussions.
The fifth volume of the ‘Understanding FATA’ series, among others, highlights a decline in optimism in FATA. More than two-third of people surveyed responded that ‘Pakistan is going in the wrong direction.’ The largest group of respondents identified ‘inability to provide basic amenities’ as the greatest human rights concern in FATA.
Variation in opinions was prevalent, with only 11% of respondents desiring ‘no reforms’. However, more than one-third of the FATA population was not able to offer an opinion which highlights the need to educate people what reforms will mean for them.
The report also highlights the need to invest in education and health services, and creating employment opportunities as ‘the biggest problems in FATA’.
In his launching statement, the Chief Executive of CAMP and Author of the report Mr. Naveed Ahmad Shinwari said:
“The report has taken one step forward. It shows the world what people in FATA are thinking now and follows the trend since 2007, when CAMP launched the first opinion poll in FATA. The key message of the report is that reforms and development activities must seek to empower the disenchanted people in FATA, so that issues concerning security and prosperity can be championed. This outcome will improve trust in the government and its international partners and also reduce social space for militants and extremists to justify their acts.
The 2011 survey shows a dramatic change in opinion – with just 43% of respondents declaring that they felt safe, an alarming decrease in percentage from 2010. A change compounded by an accompanying increase in feelings of insecurity.
Although reforms appear to be generally supported in the survey, concerns remain as to the value of the changes formalised in August 2011.”
Head of RIPORT, Mr. Khalid Aziz, presented an analysis of CAMP’s research findings and said “the survey was a gold mine – a remarkable piece of analytical work that not only explains issues but also raises questions and indicates future direction for policies.”
Khalid said that while Pakistan does experience a growth of 3-4 percent in GDP due to its alliance with the US and, subsequent, engagements in the War on Terror in the tribal regions – there is a lack of adequate sharing of incoming resources with the periphery. He said that militancy is just one result of the alienation felt by the residents of FATA because of the treatment meted out to them by the Pakistan government. Relating from the report, Khalid Aziz explained that while 14 percent of FATA residents said that terrorism was the main problem in the region, almost 43 percent said the degenerating law and order situation was their chief concern.
Mr. Munir Orakzai, MNA from FATA and the leader of the FATA Parliamentarians was also present at the launch. Speaking at the event, he expressed the view that the root cause of all problems in FATA is the set of policies enacted in the region, at present. He said that it was up to the residents of FATA to decide whether they wanted to merge into KPK or to establish an independent province. However, he added that no one political party could carry such a motion through; it required national consensus on the issue.
Munir emphasized the importance of development in the tribal regions. He said that the mineral wealth of FATA was more than enough to help the entire country attain self sufficiency. He said that at present funds that were promised to FATA for building schools, colleges and universities have not been delivered and, resultantly, we see problems and chaos in the region. In the end, he thanked Mr. Naveed Shinvari and CAMP for bringing important issues to the fore.
The Chief Guest at the event, Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Barrister Masood Kausar, praised the efforts of Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme. He said that only correct Information can lead policy makers to make correct decisions and surveys and reports help in the task tremendously. He also appreciated the fact that CAMP’s report does away with FATA’s image as an uncivilized land.
The Governor added that there was a time when FATA was considered to be a more democratic and disciplined region than the rest of the country, despite its economic limitations. He said that the agony which the Tribal people have been suffering from over the last three decades has its roots in bad decision making of the past, not just in Pakistan but also on the International stage. Therefore, the international community, too, has a responsibility to set things right.
Masood said that in line with the Constitution of 1973, new policies introduced to FATA recently have made it mandatory for a person to be produced before the tribunal for judicial inquiry. He said that the concept of bail has been introduced to the region as well.
The extension of the Political Parties Ordinance to FATA has also been a revolutionary change for the people as it allows them the right to hold and exercise political opinion as well as organize to defend their rights – in contrast to their experiences earlier.
The ‘Understanding FATA’ research report is funded by the British High Commission in Islamabad.