The clamour for holding local government elections in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is growing in a region where a governance system is non-existent at a local or provincial level.

A new research study by the FATA Research Centre (FRC) titled ‘Local Government in FATA, Past failures, Current challenges and Future prospects’ highlights the century old political vacuum in the region coupled with bad governance and corruption which has resulted in a gap between the state and society in this volatile tribal belt.

The growing exclusion of people from the political process has created a sense of deprivation and frustration among the masses, the report says and this disconnect was the reason that Taliban were able to consolidate their position in FATA by cutting away at the existing political system and killing the tribal elders and maliks.

Presenting the study, Sharafat Ali Choudhary said people have a Constitutional right to self government and there is a local government draft for the region in 2012. Legally, he said there is no bar on holding local bodies’ elections, especially when Parliamentary polls have been held several times.

The Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) is a draconian law which still operates there and power is wielded by the all powerful political agent even today. Lt Gen (retd.) Abdul Qadir Baloch, the minister for States and Frontier Regions said there are no two opinions that local government elections should be held in FATA and he said the driver of reforms must be the people themselves.

Slamming the corrupt institution of the political agent, he said even Jinnah had given assurance to the people of FATA that they would have a government of their choice.

Senator Farhatullah Babar said the FATA region which was a buffer zone earlier to press the strategic depth policy was now a strategic threat.