Friday, 20 June 2014

The prison

by Farah Samuel

Penitentiary, dungeon, cell, dark room are all names of that one place I had the most horrific perception of in my head second to hell. A place where no sane desires to be at. It is a place least spoken about and least accessible. A place nobody even wants to pass by. Yes, I am referring to a jail. As a child I had always dreaded even the thought of being captivated in a jail. I had always pictured it as a gloomy small dark and smelly room with some crazy people behind the bars. Of course those who commit a crime, attempt a murder or are accused of heist are crazy people. For me those were the people who are usually bashed to death if not given a life sentence or hanged. I used to watch crime scene shows on the television and shrills of cold ran through my spine each time I would watch a gruff horrifying face ogling the jailer, behind the bars. I would always think what kind of a life is it that one does not own anymore? The life of a prisoner is only dedicated to disappointment and longing for court hearings which is a matter of fate. Ah! What a pity. I imagined prison inmates as scary creatures, people who can’t be humans for they have perpetrated several crimes and violated the laws. The perception was no less than that of a monster but as much as I was afraid of it, deep inside I actually wanted to visit a jail at least once in my lifetime. I wanted to see and feel the dust of sin, agony and guilt that resides in there and has accumulated innumerous layers of a permanent abode.

The Visit
I would not have ever gotten a chance to visit a jail just by knocking at the door and saying hello to the constable and asking him to let me in nor would have I ever asked my parents to take me to the jail on a leisure trip. It only became possible when I started working as a social activist. I recently got a chance to visit the Central Jail Peshawar- Women Wing. Now let me expound on the what should I say a dreadful experience or an eye opener, whatsoever, my visit. As I entered, I could feel the terror wandering within; the officers and their suspicious eyes. For a moment I felt as though I was their new victim. I shook my head and continued walking. After the security checks what I see is an old building, a big hall just like a dormitory or no, it was more like a dungeon infact that is what it was. I entered inside the hall and there are women, some excited others surprised. I wondered what they were thinking. As they greeted me, the tension in my body started fading away and after a while I discerned no terror at all. There were not more than 10 prisoners. There was a woman crying, on inquiring I found out that her court hearing had been delayed and all the others were consoling her. That was to my surprise something too different from what I had always thought of the inmates, as a child. I never knew they could sympathize with one another and act empathically but they did. I witnessed a few making jewelry. They told me they get paid for it. I did get a necklace for myself just as a memorabilia from the jail and to encourage them for such healthy activities.
While I was interacting, I saw a beautiful young girl with a cheerful smile. My first reaction was very obvious; what must this young lady would have done to be here and on probing, she smiled with embarrassment and said:

“I’m here under section 302-a murder case.”
The constable told me with irony that she was possessed with spirits and had murdered her two kids. I just couldn’t believe what I had heard and after that couldn’t say a word. I thought to myself which mother would ever want to kill her children, the ones she bore in her womb for 9 months but nevertheless there are reasons behind everything.

Amidst all those thoughts, I managed to speak to another woman who was in her late 20’s and asked her for how long she has been in Peshawar Jail and under what accusation. She said:
I’m basically from Mianwalli and have been accused of theft. I used to live in a shanty house with my family. I was a domestic maid and have been accused of theft from the house where I worked. I did not steal anything but even after asserting many times that I didn’t steal, I was put behind the bars. I have been here for the last 9 months.”

Another woman who was sitting quietly in a corner was someone whom I did not expect to come across with. She was quiet and didn’t speak at all. When I inquired from the rest of the inmates as to what had she done they all unanimously uttered:

“She murdered her husband by ripping his chest apart and ate his heart.”
I tried speaking to her but she would not reply and refused to speak to me about anything. That made me curious as well and I wish if I could delve some answers out of her but the stern look on her face warded me off. I felt as she still has a lot of anger and rage within her and had no compunctions in doing what she did.

There was another woman who was carrying an infant in her lap and told me that she came to the jail while she was expecting and her child’s birth place is this horrific place. Her domestic issues had forced her to take the law in her hands and she too had murdered her husband.

Each one of them was living her own misery. Honestly, I did not have anything to say to them, I could not comprehend what those women were going through. Two senior citizens seemed so impervious to their situation as though they had long ago accepted there is no way out and this place is home. There are many such blood curdling stories to share of women who have committed theft, murdered their children and have eaten the heart of their husbands

. I just cannot contemplate what made them do so but I can also not say that there has been no reason to do what they did.
I do wish and pray that next time I’m there, I get to hear that many of them have lived their punishment and are now set free to be good and responsible citizens.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Allternate Dispute Resolution and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police

By Syed Fida Hassan Shah

The Oxford Dictionary defines Alternate Dispute Resolution as dispute resolution processes and techniques that act as a means for disagreeing parties to come to an agreement short of litigation. It is a collective term for the ways that parties can settle disputes with the help of a third party.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, characterized by Pakhtunwali code, has preserved its traditions and culture for centuries. In Pakhtun society the tradition of resolving disputes amicably through the intervention of elders has been practiced for centuries. The province has historically been influenced by traditional and community owned institutions – like the jirga system – that have played an important role in the daily lives of the local communities. The jirga system in other parts of the country has mostly been regarded as unjust and in violation of basic human rights. However, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Tribal Areas it has been more egalitarian than in other parts of Pakistan. The presence of a jirga system in most parts of the province has been really helpful to the local communities to sustain themselves. However, the menace of terrorism and militancy in the province and adjoining Tribal Areas, apart from disrupting law and order situation has totally destroyed a strong tradition of disputes resolution through reconciliation.

After taking over as IGP Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police, Mr. Nasir Khan Durrani has initiated many reform processes to make it more democratic, responsive and people friendly police. By taking forward the traditional and historical systems of the province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police under its new leadership has started a new initiative of Alternate Dispute Resolution. The project was initiated two months back with the establishment Disputes Resolution Councils for City Division in Capital City Police Peshawar. Prominent and apolitical members representing cross section of the civil society including professionals, retired judges, retired civil and armed forces officers, educationists, religious scholars, lawyers, journalists and members from business community have been taken as members of the first Dispute Resolution Council (DRC). Two DRCs, one for City and one for Cantonment Area have already been launched in the Capital City Peshawar. Work has already been initiated to gradually roll it out to the rest of the province.

The DRC will be responsible for amicable resolution of disputes, fact finding enquiries and acting as jury in the conduct of contested investigations. All applications and complaints forwarded by police department will be resolved amicably on best efforts basis by the council. The Council will take up only those applications which are referred to it through police. A council member will not take up the case on his own. If any party has any reservation on decision of DRC, it may apply for review. A five member review council, other than the original decision makers, will review the findings.

The DRCs would not take up any case which is sub-judice. They will not involve themselves in complicated civil cases. The members of DRCs would refrain from recommendations that are against the constitution of Pakistan, in violations of basic human rights and are in conflict with the prevalent laws.

The ongoing wave of terrorism and militancy, besides causing other damages, has also resulted in militarization of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police at the cost of normal policing functions. Consequently community policing has become all the more important to share the burden of police department and to ensure free and speedy justice for the common man. The process of Dispute Resolution Councils initiated by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police therefore, seems a step in a right direction.
-The writer belongs to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He contributes to the blog and tweets @charnushah.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa: A PTI one year report card

By Shah Zalmay Khan

It was early June 2013 - the first week after PTI took over government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa when I wrote this:

Elections season 2013 is over, PTI has got two proving grounds now - the first a coalition government role in KPK and the second an opposition role at federal level. Our performance in both these proving grounds will brighten or darken our prospects in future politics especially 2018 elections. What should PTI do to ensure it reaps the greatest dividends in both roles? The answer is

PTI must synchronize both these roles so that its opposition voice at federal level should aid its governance at KPK level.

Pervez Khattak: Change PTI can believe in?

A year has passed since I wrote these lines and now I feel is the right time for introspection - has PTI been able to implement what was needed?

There are many achievements to quote, frankly. Improvement in police/patwari system, a positive change in governance style, minimized top-level corruption, some brilliant law-making, inspirational social services initiatives, sound health and education initiatives, to count a few.
But is that enough? Has PTI been able to do what was expected from it by its electorate (read Pakhtuns) who stood up to Imran Khan's call for CHANGE?

I, being a Pakhtun PTI voter & supporter, would sadly say NO (partially). PTI has not been able to do ALL that was expected - not because it lacks the capacity but perhaps because it has not done the proper homework.

Having said that - the logical question is: Why I think PTI has not done enough? Well I have my reasons for believing so. I narrate each point in some detail.

Net Hydel Profit (NHP)
Few facts about this issue are in order, before moving any further:

Article 161 (2) of the constitution guarantees the payment of Net Hydel Profit (NHP) to the province where a hydel project is located. The formula for payment of NHP was devised by the famous A.G.N Kazi Committee and is known as Kazi Committee Mechanism (KCM).

According to the KCM formula KPK's share in NHP for 1991-92 was Rs 6 Billion (with a provision for annual increase in accordance with electricity tariff increase), however, the Govts of Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto flouted this consensus committee decision and NHP for KPK was capped at Rs 6 Billion for years.

During the MMA government (2002-2007), KPK took a stand on the issue in Supreme Court and thus an Arbitration Tribunal was formed to resolve the dispute which ruled partially in favour of KPK govt and decided that an annual increment of 10% over the capped amount of 6 Billion be paid to KPK govt. It was agreed that Federal government will pay an amount of 100 Billion as arrears for the capped NHP amounts from 1991. These amounts were to be paid to KPK in 4 equal instalments of 25 billion each. The annual NHP for 2013 alone (according to the arbitration decision) amounts to more than Rs 40 Billion.

Sadly the Federal Government is using delaying tactics even after the mutually agreed arbitration decision and only 6-8 Billion per year is paid as NHP instead of 40 Billion.

But the real shocker is yet to come - for the first time in last 23 years, federal government has NOT paid even the 6 billion to KPK this year. And guess what? PTI and KPK government have not pursued this issue the way they should have. This is the biggest violation of the federation's spirit and PTI has taken this without much hue & cry. PTI - specifically KPK government - must answer why it failed to get KPK's basic right for Pakhtuns? If they cannot safeguard a legally protected right of Pakhtuns, how will they fight for their political rights? Key questions arise:

  • How much hue & cry has been made on this issue in the media (except few passing references here & there)?
  • How many times have letters been written to concerned federal circles and the same followed up through official channels & supported by sufficient media campaign?
  • How many times has Imran Khan specifically talked about this issue in the past one year? How many major protests have been done on the issue?
  • How many times has KPK assembly (under PTI) passed resolutions against this injustice with Pukhtoons?
  • How many times have PTI MNAs raised this issue forcefully in the NA and staged walk out or boycott of NA proceedings to press their point?
  • Why has KPK government still not knocked the SC door against this blatant violation of the constitution?
There is NO - I repeat NO - justification for federal government to not pay the NHP amount to KPK. But it exposes the inefficiency or laxity (or both) of PTI and KPK govt too, in having not sufficiently pursued the issue..


A few facts of KPK electricity generation/demand are in order:

  • KPK's electricity production = more than 4000 MW of highly economical hydel power (Tarbela, Warsak, Malakand I, II, III, Khan Khwar, Allai Khwar, Duber Khwar, Gomal Zam etc).
  • Peak production of KPK (summer) = Around 4400 MW.
  • Peak demand of KPK (also in summer) = Around 2500 MW.
  • What KPK gets from PEPCO (summer) = Just 1000-1400 MW.
  • During winter KPK's power production drops to as low as 2200 MW but so does its power demand (1000-1200 MW)
Summary: At all times of the year - KPK's power production exceeds its demand by at least 1000-1500 MW (means surplus whole year - no shortage).

Now coming back to the problem. KPK faces the worst loadshedding all round the year (situation worsens in summers). Industrial activities (if any left) in the province have come to a halt & people have been made psychological patients by the long unscheduled power outages (18-20 hours in some areas). PTI (and its KPK govt) were expected to raise this issue with federal government and also in the Council of Common Interests (CCI). PTI did raise the issue occasionally - but only half heartedly and without the essence of a planned strategy - this has not been made a core issue. PTI MNAs (especially those from KPK) have NOT done enough to follow this issue up in National Assembly either.


Some people (mostly PMLN) say Tarbela dam was built with federal investment, so its electricity is federal property too. This is the most lame thing ever heard (and accepted sadly). A few info bits about Tarbela dam are in order here:

  • Opened 1976. Peak production (summer) ~ 3500 MW.
  • Average ~ 2500-3000 MW (least is 1800 MW when run-off river only).
  • Annual output ~ 15 billion Kwh (units).
  • Annual profit ~ Rs 50 billion.
  • KP gets Rs 6 billion NHP (10% p.a raise acc to AGN Kazi formula never given)
Federal government's investment has already been returned as financial break-even has been achieved in 1990s. Federal government has been earning full profits for the last 2 decades (since 1990s). Now the asset should be KPK property since it is KP's land & water resources that were originally utilized.
A legal issue that KPK govt should somehow pursue (if possible) is that Tarbela Dam was built without consent of KPK govt, technically (since NWFP was part of 'One Unit' at the time of starting of Tarbela project). Is it legal for the federal govt to undertake such a mass-scale project (without consent of the concerned province) involving eternal utilization of resources (in this case water & land) of a province and from which federal govt will later earn profits without sharing it with the concerned province? I am a not lawyer myself so I can't deliberate any further.

The point to stress is that PTI and KPK govt have failed to properly take up and pursue this issue too. Whenever there is loadshedding problem, PTI reps let PMLN's rant about 'Bijli Chori' overshadow this grave injustice faced by Pukhtoons.

Out of scores of feeders across KPK, if there are line losses or theft or recovery issues at a few feeders (as Abid Sher Ali says), then why 16-18 hours loadshedding is faced by people in the feeders where recovery is nearly 100%? PTI reps have failed to logically counter Abid Sher Ali's rant (perhaps due to lack of sufficient homework) and so PMLN gets away with its blatant lies on the issue and PTI can't sell its truth even.

Provincial Electricity Generation

KPK is blessed with abundant water resources and sites have been identified for small and medium hydropower projects at several locations in Malakand and Hazara Divisons. Some projects (nearly 1000 MW) are already in the feasibility, implementation or completion phases. If utilized fully, KPK alone can give Pakistan thousands of MW of highly economical hydel power. Yes KPK has an ambitious provincial energy plan under way that aims at adding at least 1000 MW to KP's production by 2018 and another 2000 MW by 2022. However, there are barriers - legal, financial and political.

The main legal barrier is that provinces can't undertake projects exceeding 100 MW (so PMLN guys are simply upto BS when they taunt PTI saying why KP doesn't produce own electricity - it can't, legally).

Main financial barrier is that KP govt's own resources are limited even for projects of upto 100 MW so it needs loans from institutions like ADB or WB. However, provincial govts on their own can't seek loans from international institutions - they have to route it through federal govt. And here is where the political barrier (the biggest props up).

The main political barrier is that PMLN's federal govt can not afford to see PTI's provincial govt deliver on its promises - its a sort of political suicide. So federal govt has turned down PTI govt's requests for the needed foreign sponsorship for its energy projects.

But my issue is with the conduct of PTI and KP govt on this issue too. How many people know about these facts? If public doesn't know - whose weakness it is? PMLN will understandably play its games (I don't blame them because their survival depends on PTI's failure in KPK) but why PTI is sleeping on the issue? Why PTI has not taken up this serious violation of federation's spirit at every public/legal forum - is beyond me, yet again.

Micro Hydel Plants - Sustainability Questions

The hilly districts of Malakand and Hazara Divisions have hundreds of micro hydel power (MHP) stations where electricity is generated and consumed locally by the communities with support from govt / NGOs. A major problem with these projects is technical and management sustainability i.e. the implementing agency / government forgets about the MHPs once they are commissioned. Since the technical awareness and expertise of the communities is limited, the plants run into trouble soon, with nobody to assist technically. KPK government should have run a project to identify all such ailing MHPs and apply the lessons learnt from the AKRSP (Aga Khan Rural Support Program) model whereby continued technical assistance is provided to communities in order to manage scores of MHPs in Chitral and GB. This way KPK government would have been able to reduce the sufferings of populations living in isolated hilly communities (not too late for that even now frankly).

Sadly, the focus of PTI govt today is on the hullabaloo of installing new MHPs (350+ being quoted) while the already installed hundreds of plants are slowly dying due to government indifference. While this may be politically rewarding in the short run but they do not contribute towards solution of the problem in the long run. About time KPK government took the bosses of relevant departments like SRSP and PEDO to task and asked them one simple question:
"Ever heard of the term sustainability"?

Security Issues especially in Peshawar Valley
PTI was elected by Pakhtuns due to 3 main reasons:

  • Eradication of Corruption.
  • Change in SYSTEM of governance (Patwari/police/health/education).
  • Peace, security, law & order

While PTI endeavours in the first two areas are satisfactory - peace & security have remained largely illusive so far. Though efforts have been made to improve security in the province, fruits of the same are not clearly visible especially in the capital Peshawar and nearby districts of Charsadda and Swabi. In fact Peshawar suburbs on the FATA border (on three sides) are becoming 'FATA 2.0' practically. What are the reasons for this apparent failure? Lets analyse the same briefly:

FC (Frontier Constabulary) is the force that is supposed to act as a buffer between KPK and FATA by manning the exit/entry routes of FATA and posts on the 1000 km long KPK-FATA border. But guess what? Around 200 platoons of FC are attached on duties outside KPK i.e. Islamabad, Karachi etc. This means thousands of KPK security personnel are performing duties outside KPK while our own province is burning; sounds like a big terrible joke. ANP govt failed to settle this issue in 5 years & same is the case with PTI till now. Peshawar High Court has already given a judgement to this effect in November 2012 but still KPK govt has not been able to get these soldiers back despite being in power for 1 year. Note: People generally confuse this FC (Frontier Constabulary) with another force, also named FC (Frontier Corps). Difference is that Frontier Constabulary is entirely a civilian force led by police officers while Frontier Corps is a para-military force led by serving army officers.
Peshawar is the heart of Pakhtun lands - a place where Pakhtuns from every part of KPK and FATA (and even Afghanistan) turn to when they face trouble in their home town. However, law & order in Peshawar has worsened steadily over the past few years (yes during PTI's one year too, despite efforts). Kidnapping for ransom, target killing, extortion and organized attacks on Peshawar suburbs especially those on Khyber/Darra border are becoming a norm. PTI and KPK government were expected to take up the issue of attacks into Badhber, Mattani etc (in Peshawar) and into Shabqadar (in Charsadda) from within limits of FATA (under federal control). Irony is that militants can openly cross over into KPK from FATA to attack border villages but KPK police can NOT pursue them into FATA when they flee upon return (due to legal/jurisdiction issues). This has made law & order in Peshawar and Charsadda a joke and PTI performance (as a party on federal level) and as a provincial government  has been disappointing on the issue, to say the least.

Some good lawmaking has been done by PTI in KPK to restrict the boarding / lodging / movements of terrorists (e.g the Restriction of Rented Buildings and Hotels Ordinance). However, implementation of these laws is not visible. KPK govt should have made Peshawar a test-case for implementation of these laws and ensured that every rented accommodation or hotel is accounted for. Not the case sadly - and no one else is to blame for this, except PTI.

Identity Question of Tribal Pakhtuns - Mainstreaming FATA


Though PTI could grab only 1 MNA seat in FATA, the sentiments of FATA Pakhtuns for PTI or Imran Khan were/are no different from KPK Pakhtuns. Being a tribesman myself, I can vouch for the fact that people love Imran Khan just like a son or a brother. So when PTI won a share in National Assembly and government in the Pakhtun land (KPK), the tribesmen expected PTI to become their voice. And Imran Khan did prove to be the tribesmen's voice on the issues of drones and indiscriminate operations (full marks on that). However, one area that PTI absolutely failed to address is the identity question of Tribal Pakhtun.

  • What are we (we tribesmen ask)?
  • Are we Pakistanis at all? If we are, why Pakistan's constitution is not applicable to our land?
  • Why we are still living under the colonial instrument of oppression known as FCR?
  • Why the 70 Lacs of us are being treated as criminals - acceptable collateral damage? Why our land is the staging ground for 'Strategic Games'?

Two generations have been ruined in the latest war just because our land is 'Lawless' - and that is what gives everyone the justification to attack, bomb, drone, shell & maim us; be it the terrorists, the military or the US drones.

Coming back to PTI's indifference on the issue (yes I call it indifference because one year is a long enough duration for at least some activity in this regard). I have pointed this out before, am pointing it out today and will keep doing so in future too:

PTI has failed (till now) to put ANY concerted efforts into giving us tribesmen our identity, our name, our basic rights. No resolution by PTI's KPK assembly; no resolution by PTI's MNAs in National Assembly; and no protest by Imran Khan over our 2nd-class citizenship status in Pakistan. Period.

With all that written above, I may have painted a very bleak picture of PTI's performance. That is not, however, the case.

PTI has done some wonderful work in the areas of governance and system reforms which I have been highlighting in my writings. Laws like RTI, RTS, Ehtesab Law will go a long way in making KPK a better place to live in hopefully.

Pakhtuns will never forget how Imran Khan went an extra mile for peace in our lands and even got himself dubbed as Terrorism-apologist by the warmongers. Imran Khan's unflinching stance on drone attacks and NATO supplies issues will never be forgotten.

Pakhtuns will forever remain indebted to Imran Khan for his personal interest and KP government good management in trying to save our generations from the crippling diseases like polio through 'Sehat Ka Insaf' initiative.

Initiatives like 'Tameer-e-School' aimed at improving the education-related infrastructure (left in shambles by previous governments) will go a long way in the development of Pakhtuns as an educated and aware nation.

Initiatives like building sports stadiums at district/tehsil levels will also ensure that Pakhtun youth utilizes their energies in positive activities, instead of going astray on the paths of militancy or drugs or crimes.

So not all is bad in KPK actually and the questions I raised here on behalf of Pakhtuns don't mean we have lost hope in PTI or Imran Khan. Results of by-elections for 4 NA seats and 5-6 MPA seats held in KPK over the past few months (except NA-1 where several factors were at work) are proof that PTI enjoys full trust of Pakhtuns. What I have highlighted in this blog is just a sincere introspection from an Insafian's eyes - to help PTI correct its course on some issues that require immediate attention.
Having said that, PTI should also remember one thing:
The two biggest temptations for any Pakhtun are Islam and Pakhtu. Pakhtuns rejected the grandson of 'Fakhr-e-Afghan' Baacha Khan - who tried to use 'Pakhtu card' - and also the son of respected Mufti Mehmood - who tried to use 'Islam card'. Instead they trusted a non-Pashto speaking modern man Imran Khan ONLY because Pakhtun believe in federation of Pakistan and in delivering on promises (which Asfandyar's ANP or Fazl's JUI could not). So basically the lesson is: you get only one chance to win the hearts, minds, trust and the recurring vote of Pakhtuns. Otherwise, even being a Bacha Khan's grandson or Mufti Mehmood's son can't save you from humiliating defeat. Nobody gets a 2nd chance in KPK - that is what last 2 decades of KPK's political history tells us.

And the only way out for PTI, as I also stated soon after elections, is:

PTI must synchronize its dual roles (as opposition in NA and as govt in KP) so that its opposition voice at federal level should aid its governance at KPK level.

I rest my case.

-The writer is a tribesman from Bajaur Agency (FATA) and tweets at @PTI_FATA .
(No official association with PTI)

Monday, 2 June 2014

The great migration

A version of this article was originally published as a two parter by THE NEWS part 1 is available herepart 1 published 31st May 2014. This version includes links, pictures and some additional information.

I sit sad in the valley
Listening to the river that says
Trespasser, trespasser, trespasser.
I stubbornly say, All the same
It’s still beautiful.
And I know that’s true
But I know also
Why it fails to recognise me.

- ‘The exiles lament’ The poems Of Norman Maccaig edited by Ewen MacCaig,

Recently a friend visiting Peshawar and Islamabad after four years narrated me a story about a recently retired colleague in Peshawar. This colleague had been a successful government official for much of his life and had also been a local activist in Peshawar. Despite these ties his colleague had moved to Islamabad, he had sold everything and moved to the capital. When he met him he found a man both happy at the opportunities the capital offered his children and depressed at his social isolation.

This little anecdote for me signified something significant happening in the Pashtun belt stretching from Chitrals Lowari pass and south to Qila Saifullah. The region is experiencing the greatest migration within and outside the region possibly for over a century since the great Frontier rebellion of the late 20th century. Many reading this will probably ask the question as to why this great migration has gone unnoticed by so many in Pakistan. The reality is the tribal ethos of taking in those they share an affinity for has absorbed the impact by taking in many of them and hosting them. For those less fortunate amongst them sadly little help has come their way from the state and the rest of the country.

Frozen in history

Traditional scholars of the region like Akbar. S Ahmad and books of reference often used by researchers like Olaf Caroes The Pathans and James W Spains ‘Pathans of the latter day’. They saw the region in traditional terms divided into distinctive regions as late as the 1990’s and 9/11 distinct from the Pashtuns of Afghanistan. The class based hierarchy of Mardan, Charsadda and Swat dominated by influential and powerful Khans. The oft forgotten Hindko, Seraiki, Kohistani, Chitrali and non-Pashto speakers of Peshawar, Kohat, DI Khan, Hazara, Kohistan and Chitral. The Maliks of FATA reinforced by the Frontier Crimes Regulation through financial inducements and powerful political agents. The conservative electables and influentials of Southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Northern Balochistan. These established hierarchies were in turn governed by myriad of laws and financed by a basic but gradually developing industrialization. In addition to this there was everything from overrepresentation in the military, remittances from far away Karachi, expatriate labourers in the Gulf states and the Afghan transit smuggling trade.

Culturally Pashtuns were seen through a prism of their own cultural code. The Pashtunwali code code consisted of hospitality, the right of asylum, revenge, bravery and issues of honour. This code was used by both elites amongst the Pashtuns of Pakistan and the Pakistani middle class to glamorise a life and for many excuse underdevelopment. At the same time there was a sense of individualism and relative egalitarianism compared to the more hierarchical societal structures in South Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan.

Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan

Politically the region was dominated by the Pashtuns and non-Pashtuns of the ‘settled areas’ whether Kashmiri, Tarins, Yousafzai, Kakkar, Marwat, Khattak or Muhammadzai. These were successful politicians, generals and bureaucrats like Abdul Qayyum Khan, the Wali of Swat, Abdul Wali Khan, Generals like Habibullah Khattak and Waheed Kakkar, Bureaucrats like Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Roedad Khan. While many of these were local leaders, they drew their strength from their broader national and regional connections. This was distinctively different from their counterparts in other provinces who often were more geographically constrained.

Historical trade routes, wars and geography have meant that migration has been common to the region. The fabled sily route and grand trunk road travelled from East to west and followed the Delhi to Peshawar and from there on Kabul and Central Asia routes. The road and later on rail works were built for troop deployments and transit trade through the region and not as tools of integrating various parts of the region together. This imperial legacy was inherited by the new state of Pakistan in 1947 and that lack of development ensured that the major source of employment would remain the migration of labour. Their lack of education meant that much of that employment would be in the area of construction and transport work. Whereas prior to 1947 this migration was east towards Delhi and in particular modern day Mumbai it was now restricted to within the Pakistan state and the new economic engine of Karachi.

The last great migration

At the time of the creation of the state of Pakistan in 1947 the Pashtun belt remained largely untouched from the horrors of partition. Out of the four provinces Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and the then NWFP and Federally Administered Tribal Areas., NWFP and Balochistan escaped the communal violence of partition and the Pashtuns became the second biggest ethnicity in the western wing of the country.
The scale of the events of partition on the areas on the border was enormous. Cities like Karachi ended up with over 50% migrants compared to 10% in Peshawar. While there was initial political and cultural dissent as the new government imposed its idea of a unitary political, linguistic and cultural state the region rapidly integrated into the new state. The economic boom was centralised in business centres like Karachi from the Pashtun belt by 1980 out of an estimated 8 million people an estimated 1.5 million were Pashtun.

After the breakup of Pakistan in 1971 and creation of Bangladesh a second economic boom in the middle east following the increase in oil prices. Robert Nichols book ‘A History of Pashtun Migration’ highlighted some of by 1981 it was estimated that 34.6% of the national total of Pakistanis over ten years were from the NWFP. While those figures do not include FATA and Balochistan it is safe to say the region benefitted two to three times their representation in the country. At the same time in Karachi the increasing economic influence of Pashtuns in Karachi created resentment in the dominant Urdu speaking community. It has seen a major spike in Pashtun migration into the city from 8% in 1981 to 11% in 1998 making it the biggest Pashtun urban centre in the world. Many of these migrants have taken up jobs in small businesses and transport, --- this culminated ? in the violent 1985 ethnic riots triggered by the death of a young girl in a traffic accident, the subsequent backlash made the city relatively less inviting to new migrants.
While in the Middle East, the increased competition from lower cost workers like Bangladeshi and Philippines workers led to a relative decline in the presence of people from Pakistan in general. The common factor linking Karachi and the Middle East was that while the Pashtun presence was significant, it was not perceived as permanent. This was in part because many migrants did not migrate with their families, often due to the economic cost and in case of the Middle East visa restrictions, it was seen as a temporary measure.

The Perfect Storm

The factors that have upended this old system are not hard to place, the US occupation of Afghanistan side by side with armed revolt, in the presence of thousands of foreign troops and support personnel and hundreds of billions dollars being spent per year and the associated development work as well as development work. This was side by side with multiple military operations, governance vacuum and the ensuing economic collapse.

A recent report by writer Javed Aziz gave some insight into the scale of the attacks 3,275 militant attacks were carried out all over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during the last nine years in which 4,175 people, including 1,381 personnel of civil and armed forces and 2,794 civilians, were killed, and 8,054 civilians and 3,010 security personnel were wounded.

As per the 2011 housing survey, there are approximately 26 million people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 4.4 million from FATA with at least 6 million people from Balochistan being from the Pashtun belt out of an approximate total of 196 million people in the country. Out of this number as per the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas alone as of early 2013 nearly 1.1 million people are currently displaced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and FATA due to ongoing conflict and insecurity since 2008. While during the conflict in Swat from 2007-2009 2.5 million were displaced as IDP’s. Leading to a peak of 3 million displaced in 2009 and with an estimated five million people have been displaced by conflict, sectarian violence and human rights abuses in the north-west of the country since 2004.

Economically the situation in the region has been even more dire according to statistics from the Khyber-Pashtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce between 2007-2010 out of a total of 1600 industrial units operating in 2007, only about 542 units were left by 2010. The rest of the units were closed down incurring nearly Rs 70 billion worth losses to the province and rendering 57,000 people unemployed. On a local level the cost of insurgency was even greater e.g., in Buner, around 500 marble factories were closed in May 2009 leaving 200,000 people unemployed. While few statistics are readily available for the state of things at present in Khyber-Pashtunkhwa and Balochistan anecdotally the situation is little better and in case of the latter possibly worse.

The accuracy of these numbers in estimating the direct impact on the region is difficult to say as because of administrative separation the numbers will not be as accurate as the numbers for Sindh which was also hit by devastating floods but conversely is more geographically, administratively and poetically well defined by the state.

The new migration
‘You can never cross the same bridge twice’
The funeral of Liaqat 'Tension' Bangash, one of Karachi's Pashtun new guard
Post 9/11 there was an economic boom within Pakistan, first in Karachi following the events of 9/11 Pakistan received a windfall of aid under the military dictator President Pervaiz Musharraf. The focus for much of this development aid was the military. However the dictator also wanted to forge a new constituency in the country. The frontier provinces bordering Afghanistan were electorally swept by religo-political party’s MMA (nicknamed the Military-Mullah Alliance) in the 2002 election. Using their support in the assembly to indemnify himself, the alliances isolationist approach ensured it did not get access to the funds that the west was spending. Musharraf similarly was not interested in allowing the MMA access to large amounts of federal funds either. This led to a progressive economic decline in the region in contrast to other provinces.

Conversely it was essential in Punjab which was the dominant province and also where the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had strong electoral support. In addition Musharraf a native Karachiite also focussed on the mega city and oversaw an economic boom in the city. While in the Middle East the war in Iraq led to a cash windfall once again for the oil rich states of the region. However this traditional pattern has been altered by post 2007 surge in violence in FATA, Khyber-Pashtunkhwa and Karachi. The Punjab has largely escaped the bulk of the post 2007 violence and that has altered migration patterns. Research by writers like Shahid Saeed highlighted the variation of violence between the provinces in 2013, with the risk of being a target of violence in Punjab 1 in 1,422,535, Sindh, 1 in 29,424 Khyber-Pashtunkhwa 1 in 28,387, Balochistan 1 in 9,256 and FATA 1 in 6,143.

There has been several sides to this mass migration, the migration of those seeking security migrating out en masse for the first time, some to the former camps of Afghan refugees and others to the big urban centres of Khyber-Pashtunkhwa like Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan and Mardan. In turn the impact of such an influx into Peshawar came side by side with devastating attacks on the city. The city has been also hit by a wave of abductions and extortion rackets. Those with some income have been devastated by these attacks and large numbers have relocated to Islamabad, Lahore and Abbotabad for reasons of security. A tragic side story to this is the destruction of the home and culture of non Pashto speakers of the Pashtun belt and in particular hindko speakers of Peshawar. This once rich, multicultural and multi-ethnic community has been hit the hardest. Some have migrated outwards while the remaining have been assimilated with the new migrants but in the process witnessed their own decline. They in turn were followed by the flight of many of those who had made money from business in Afghanistan in hope of security. While in the South there has been an exodus of people from DI Khan towards Dera Ghazi Khan and then to Multan and Southern Punjab. This marks a shift from the traditional migration towards Karachi, with scholars like Ayesha Siddiqa pointing out how the Seraiki belt of Southern Punjab receiving the second highest number of Pashtun migrants after Karachi.

A big difference with this migration and the previous ones is the inclusion of displaced families, this has meant that unlike before where the locals had no stake in the host areas, now out of compulsion being apolitical was no longer an option. The need to take a ‘side’ in local battles for resources changed and a more overt alliance with local groups started to take place. Here the influence of the local areas has challenged the traditional concepts of individualism. The influence of the Middle East with a puritanical version of Islam that fixated on the ‘west’ led to an increasing conservatism. This impact was in turn reflected by the growth of religious party’s in K-P and FATA, an increase in religious schooling and the decline of a traditional legacy of progressive politics.

In Karachi contact with the powerful criminal-political gangs with their use of extortion mafias in conjunction with electoral support triggered a political and violent assertiveness. This with a rapidly changing demographic was first reflected in the 2002 elections when in Karachi the MMA surprised locals with electoral wins in traditional strongholds of the MQM. This in turn became far more violent post 2007 with the power struggle between the new coalition partners over control of Karachi.
Punjab law Minister Rana Sanaullah recently said to
protect Punjab, “operations” will be mounted in 174 areas of the province where communities of Pashtuns settled
sectarian groups. This has been a double edged sword, while the groups have offered protection and resources to the migrants, they have also further tarnished them by association with extremist sectarian attacks.

It would be easy to see the great migration as a linear process but it is a dynamic process, large scale migration often breeds resentment in host communities, while the law and order situation can change and many migrants (can) and will want to return home. Returnees will inevitably be changed by their experiences, their expectations of governance and traumatised by feelings of vulnerability. The great frontier migration of the 21st century impact on the people and the region is another story yet untold