Merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
On May 31, 2018, Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, formally ceased to exist. Home to five million people, and covering more than 27,000 square kilometres, these tribal districts have attracted enormous international attention in the last two decades due to their shared border with war-torn Afghanistan. The Government of Pakistan has now brought an end to FATA’s decades-old special status by merging the tribal agencies with the neighbouring province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Before the merger with KP, FATA was governed by a special set of laws known as the Frontier Crimes Regulations, enacted in 1901 by the British Empire to confront Pashtun insurgents. Poor governance and decades of warfare in neighbouring Afghanistan had rendered the region vulnerable to continuing insurgency and deprivation. This, in turn, had a spillover effect on health, education, and livelihoods of the people and caused the dislocation of a substantial portion of the tribal population to other parts of the country. UNDP’s 2017 Human Development Report ranked FATA lowest in the country on its Human Development Index (HDI). The merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa represents an opportunity and a new hope for peace and prosperity. But there is still a long way to go.
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