Pakistan’s Pashtun Reservation

Along the country’s northwest border, remnants of an oppressive colonial era.

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


news stories often reference Pakistan’s “lawless” region along the Afghan border; less often reported is the fact that Islamabad treats its federally administered tribal areas (fata)—that Taliban/Al Qaeda safe haven—as a vast reservation. Wary of Pashtun nationalism, the government clings to a 108-year-old law defining fata as a separate legal entity, where Pakistani political parties can’t operate and national laws don’t apply unless the president says so explicitly. Its residents have no right to a lawyer in Pakistan’s courts, nor can they present material evidence or cross-examine witnesses; those convicted cannot appeal. Meanwhile, the president’s reps to the area can punish an entire tribe for crimes committed on its territory. “Some of the Pashtuns feel like they are a colony of Pakistan,” notes Boston University Afghanistan scholar Thomas Barfield. “They’re not full citizens, and the Frontier Crimes Regulation Act gives the Pakistani government the right to burn down villages, to ban trade…It’s fairly draconian. And it comes directly out of British colonial rule.”

US SPENT $5.8 BILLION IN FATA ON:

Spending on Fata

Separate and Unequal

  • fata population: 3.1 million
  • Income per capita: $250
  • Living in poverty: 60%
  • Literacy rate: 17%
    (Male: 29% Female: 3%)


Source: Government Accountability Office

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate