NGO Presence in FATA

The presence of NGOs in FATA can be attributed to the fact that development has emerged as a major plank for bringing governance through the aids by Western Aid Agencies like USAID, US Embassy's Narcotics Affairs Section (NAS) DFID. This occurrence denotes that security and development has emerged as strategies to bring peace in tribal badlands. The Waziristan insurgency has proved to be more lethal and violent and has exceeded beyond boundaries to include other areas of FATA. 

The unrest is prevalent in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan especially in Waziristan ever since the operations in Lal Masjid which have led to the redeployment of 100,000 soldiers in Waziristan. Pakistan has lost 730 soldiers in the war on terror in FATA, 229 since July 15, 2007 alone. The kidnapping of 300 Pakistan soldiers from South Waziristan few weeks ago has demoralized the law enforcement agencies in FATA. The escalation of violence has sparked a debate in Pakistan on whether government strategy to use coercion has been a boon or bane in the tribal areas. There is a debate going around in Pakistan that military forces should be deployed on the border of Pakistan Afghanistan to stop the infiltration of militants, and remove Al Qaeda affiliates from the tribal regions.

Musharraf has been talking of setting up an elected tribal council which would involve tribal people in development work and create a sense of participation for them as is also suggested by the Department for International Development (DFID) project on Participatory Poverty Assessment (PPA). The DFID project would analyze the poverty situation in FATA and devise strategies to reduce it. The concentration of political capital in few hands is being negated and the importance of tribal nikkat system is being stressed on. According to the nikkat system the number of seats for elections should be in ratio to the respective population of tribes and sub-tribes.

The present situation in FATA can be attributed to three major origins- the presence of US/NATO forces in Afghanistan, the Lal Masjid Operations, and non adherence to the peace deals by Pakistan Government. But the question comes to our mind that why are the western agencies buttressing funds through an (NGO) in FATA?

A possible reasoning might be to re-strategize development initiatives which are ongoing by the Western NGO for the purpose of establishing manufacturing/industrial units and providing technical assistance, subsidies for agricultural activities, developing areas natural resources, including minerals and coals, developing human resources by investing in education, including vocational training schools.

The US involvement in the development can be seen by an aid to tune of 150 million dollars a year for the economic development of FATA. USAID began its operations in 2003 and currently with a current budget of $ 44 million is aimed to improve the quality of education, develop healthcare services and increase opportunities for economic growth and micro enterprise in the FATA region. USAID has constructed 65 primary, middle, and high schools out of the total of 4,583 public schools in the FATA. USAID has also been providing operational costs for Khushhaali Bank's (KB) expansion into all seven agencies of the FATA through a 5-year, $4 million program. The Pakistan government has approved its FATA Sustainable Development Plan 2006- 2015 which would infuse a $ 2.3 billion sectoral approach to development in FATA. The FATA Development Programme has been designed to improve the economic and social indicators to integrate the tribal areas into the mainstream of Pakistani economic and social development.

On the one side we have state coercion exercised through the presence of Pakistan army with full support from the US, on the other hand are the development initiatives in the form of aid to the tune of $ 750 million provided by the US Department of Defence Differences exist between the FATA Secretariat and the US on how to channelise these funds. NGOs working in Waziristan could face stiff resistance in the tribal areas due to the perception of the local people in FATA and also the terror of militants. 


More by :  Rahul Mukand

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