The Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) is strategically located between the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and the settled areas of KPK(khyber pakhtunkhwa). The FATA are bordered by Afghanistan to the west with the border marked by the Durand Line, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the Punjab to the east, and Balochistan to the south.

The region was annexed in the 19th century during the British colonial period, and though the British never succeeded in completely calming unrest in the region, it afforded them some protection from Afghanistan. The British Raj attempted to control the population of the annexed tribal regions with the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR), which allowed considerable power to govern to local nobles so long as these nobles were willing to meet the needs of the British.

In 1947, Soon after Pakistan’s Independence, the various tribes in the region entered into an agreement with the government of Pakistan, pledging allegiance to the newly created state. Some 30 instruments of accession were subsequently signed, cementing this arrangement. To the tribal agencies of Khyber, Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan were later added Mohmand Agency (in 1951), and Bajaur and Orakzai (in 1973).

Accession did not subsume the political autonomy of the tribes. The instruments of accession, signed in 1948, granted the tribal areas a special administrative status. Except where strategic considerations dictated, the tribal areas were allowed to retain their semi-autonomous status, exercising administrative authority based on tribal codes and traditional institutions. This unique system, given varying degrees of legal cover in each of the country’s earlier constitutions, was crystallised in Pakistan’s Constitution of 1973.

Each tribal agency is administered by a political agent, assisted by a number of assistant political agents, tehsildars (administrative head of a tehsil) and naib tehsildars (deputy tehsildar), as well as members from various local police (khassadars) and security forces (levies, scouts). As part of his administrative functions, the political agent oversees the working of line departments and service providers. He is responsible for handling inter-tribal disputes over boundaries or the use of natural resources, and for regulating the trade in natural resources with other agencies or the settled areas.

The political agent plays a supervisory role for development projects and chairs an agency development sub-committee, comprising various government officials, to recommend proposals and approve development projects. He also serves as project coordinator for rural development schemes.

An FR is administered by the district coordination officer of the respective settled district, who exercises the same powers in an FR as the political agent does in a tribal agency.

All civil and criminal cases in FATA are decided under the Frontier Crimes Regulation 1901 by a jirga (council of elders). Residents of the tribal areas may, however, approach the apex courts (Supreme Court of Pakistan and Peshawar High Court) with a constitutional writ challenging a decision issued under the 1901 Regulation.

FATA elects members to the federal legislature through adult franchise. The system of devolution introduced elsewhere in the country in 2001 by means of provincial Local Government Ordinances (LGOs) has not been extended to the tribal areas. A separate LGO for FATA has been drafted and is awaiting promulgation. A system of partial local-level governance does, however, operate through councils in the tribal agencies and FRs. Elected councillors are involved in various aspects of development planning and decision making.

FATA lies on the cusp of two major climatic systems, the monsoon to the east and the Mediterranean towards the west. Most parts of FATA are arid and semi-arid, with warm summers and cool winters, although some areas in the Kurram and Orakzai agencies fall within the humid and sub-humid zone. The pattern and character of summer and winter rainfall is intermixed to such an extent that it is difficult to determine which is dominant.
According to meteorological data, the area receives more winter precipitation as a result of western disturbances and some rain in the summer from the monsoon. Annual rainfall in the area varies dramatically, from 630 millimetres reported in Kurram during 2001–02, to just 88 millimetres in neighbouring Khyber Agency during the same year.

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are a group of small administrative units in the northwest of Pakistan, lying between the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan in the south, and the neighboring country of Afghanistan in the west. They comprise seven tribal agencies and six smaller frontier regions with considerable autonomy from the rest of Pakistan.

Administrative Categories:
FATA is divided into two administrative categories: ‘protected’ areas are regions under the direct control of the government, while ‘non-protected’ areas are administered indirectly through local tribes.

In protected areas, criminal and civil cases are decided by political officers vested with judicial powers. After completing the necessary inquiries and investigations, cognizance of the case is taken and a jirga is constituted with the consent of the disputing parties. The case is then referred to the jirga, accompanied by terms of reference. The jirga hears the parties, examines evidence, conducts further inquiries where needed, and issues a verdict which may be split or unanimous. The political agent, or an official appointed by the political agent for this purpose, examines the verdict in the presence of parties to the case and members of the jirga. If the verdict is found to be contrary to customary law or tainted with any irregularity, the case may be remanded to the same jirga for re-examination or the verdict may be rejected and a fresh jirga constituted. Where the verdict is held to be in accordance with customary law and free of irregularities, it is accepted and a decree is issued accordingly. An aggrieved party may challenge the decree before an appellate court, and a further appeal may be lodged with a tribunal consisting of the home secretary and law secretary of the federal or provincial government. Once appeals are exhausted, execution of the verdict is the responsibility of the political administration.

In non-protected areas, cases are resolved through a local jirga at the agency level. Local mediators first intervene to achieve a truce (tiga) between parties in a criminal case, or to obtain security (muchalga) in cash or kind for civil disputes. Thereafter, parties must arrive at a consensus concerning the mode of settlement—arbitration, riwaj (customary law) or Shariah (Islamic law). Once the mode of settlement is agreed upon, mediators arrange for the selection of a jirga with the consent of the parties to the case.

Where arbitration is selected, a jirga is nominated by consensus and given an open mandate (waak), with the understanding that its decision will be accepted by all parties. Here, the decision of the jirga cannot be challenged. In cases decided according to customary law or the Shariah, however, an aggrieved party may challenge the jirga’s decision before another jirga of their own choice. The new jirga does not hear the case afresh but only examines the original decision to see whether it deviates from customary law or the Shariah. Further appeal may be referred to a third jirga and its decision is final.

Implementation of jirga decisions in non-protected areas is the responsibility of the tribe. The jirga may mete out punishment to an offender, imposing a heavy fine. Occasionally, more serious measures may be taken such as expelling an individual or a family from the area, and confiscating, destroying or setting fire to homes and property. In such cases, the entire tribe bands together as a lashkar (army) to enforce the decision.

While most disputes are settled internally, more serious matters may require the calling of a larger jirga made up of maliks, elders, the political agent, members of the National Assembly and Senate, and occasionally even representatives from neighbouring agencies or FRs.

Although the jirga mechanism enjoys widespread favour, corruption has begun to enter the system. It is reported that the poor and more vulnerable segments of society cannot afford to convene a jirga. There are a number of requirements for a jirga to be held, including hospitality, which are increasingly beyond the reach of most ordinary people. There is also the grievance, now voiced more frequently, that in most cases jirga decisions favour the richer or more influential party.

Administrative divisions:
The Federally Administered Tribal Areas consists of seven Tribal Areas and are called the agencies, which are from north to south strip that is adjacent to the west side of the six Frontier Regions , which also lie in a north-to-south strip. The areas within each of those two regions are geographically arranged in a sequence from north to south. These seven Tribal Areas are:
§ Bajaur Agency
§ Mohmand Agency
§ Khyber Agency
§ Orakzai Agency
§ Kurram Agency
§ North Waziristan Agency
§ South Waziristan Agency

These Agencies are further divided into Assistant Political Agencies, subdivisions, and tehsils.

Frontier Regions:
The Federally Administered Tribal Areas also contain six small administrative units called Frontier Regions which are named after adjacent settled districts. The administration of the Frontier Regions is carried out by the district coordination officer of a neighbouring named district. The overall administration of the frontier regions is carried out by the FATA Secretariat, based in Peshawar and reporting to the Governor of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The six regions are:
Frontier Region Bannu
Frontier Region Dera Ismail Khan (Darazinda)
Frontier Region Kohat (Darra Adam Khel)
Frontier Region Lakki Marwat
Frontier Region Peshawar
Frontier Region Tank (Jandola)

Main cities:
§ Landi Kotal
§ Darra Adam Khel
§ Wana
§ Miran Shah
§ Parachinar
§ Khar
§ Ghalanai

Governance of FATA and Frontier Regions:
The region is only nominally controlled by the central and Federal government of Pakistan. The President of Pakistan has the authority only to implement the rules in FATA. The Preisident appoints and nominates the Governor of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (formerly NWFP) who exercises the power of the president.

The Constitution of Pakistan governs FATA through the same rules which were left by British in 1901 as Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR). The Jurisdiction of Supreme Court and High Court of Pakistan does not extend to FATA and Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA), according to Article 247 and Article 248, of existing 1973 Constitution of Pakistan. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assembly has no power in FATA, and can only exercise its powers in PATA that are part of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The assembly cannot implement the law directly as it can do in other parts of the province or Settled Areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. This has created a political vacuum in FATA, Frontier Regions and PATA. Such lawless conditions are said to serve the interests of terrorists, as there is absence of various government departments like police, judiciary, local governments, and civic amenities. There are no High Courts and Supreme Courts of Pakistan in Tribal Areas.

The mainly Pashtun tribes that inhabit the areas are fiercely independent and peaceful.The tribes has friendly relations with Pakistan's central government. These Tribes are governed by the Collective Punishment or Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR), introduced under the British Raj.

Tribal political candidates have some party affiliations but can only contest elections as independents, because the Political Parties Act of Pakistan has not been extended to the FATA. However, tribesmen were given the right to vote in the 1997 general elections despite the absence of the Political Parties Act. Previously they were selected by Tribal Elders or Maliks for the last one hundred years.

The head of each tribal agency is the political agent who represents the President of Pakistan and the appointed Governor of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The political agent wields extensive powers over the Tribesmen and can give Collective punishment through Frontier Crimes Regulations. These punishments are considered as not according to Human Rights Conventions.

Each Tribal Agency, depending on its size, has about two to three Assistant Political Agents, about three to four Tehsildars and four to nine Naib (or deputy) Tehsildars with the requisite supporting staff.

Each Tribal Agency has roughly 2–3,000 Khasadars and levies force of irregulars and up to five to nine wings of Frontier Corps Border Rangers or Civilian Armed Forces, for maintenance of law and order in the Agency and borders security. The Frontier Corps Force is headed by army officers posted by the general headquarters of the Pakistan Army, and it reports to Interior Ministry of Pakistan and is under Federal Government.

Physical Features:
The mountainous terrain is broken by small basins or valleys, dotted with settlements and agricultural fields. The area can be divided into the northern, central and southern regions which happen to coincide with administrative boundaries (Shinwari, undated). The northern zone consists of the Bajaur and Mohmand agencies. The hills in this region form a transition zone between the Hindukush mountains, and the piedmont and lowland basins. Here, the Jandool river and its tributaries join the Panjkora river. Towards the south, the Kabul river collects the outflow from local rivers including the Bira Darya and khwars (seasonal watercourses) such as the Gandab, Sallala and Shalman.

The central region covers the Khyber, Kurram and Orakzai agencies, and the FRs of Kohat and Peshawar. Here, the Safed Koh mountains rise from the Terimangal pass and stretch eastward, reaching an elevation of 3,600 metres. The Sikaram, at 4,760 metres, is the tallest peak in this range. The Kurram river flows north-west to south-east, entering North Waziristan below the town of Thal in the Hangu district of the NWFP, and eventually joining theIndus river. In Orakzai Agency, the Khanki and Mastura streams flow to the east to meet the Bara river. The towns of Bara and Khajuri form a plains area from where the Bara river and its tributaries join the Kabul river near Peshawar. To the north of the Kabul river stand the Mullagori and Shilman hills. The fertile Bara, Khanki, Kurram and Mastura valleys contain the most extensively cultivated land in FATA.

The southern region comprises the North Waziristan and South Waziristan agencies, and the FRs of Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Lakki Marwat and Tank. To the south of the Safed Koh are the Sulaiman mountains and the Waziristan hills. The hills rise to an altitude of between 1,500 and 3,000 metres, and are mostly barren. Takht-i-Sulaiman, located in FR Dera Ismail Khan, is the highest peak in the Sulaiman range, at 3,487 metres. Overall drainage in this region is toward the east. The Gomal river flows in the south, while the Kurram river passes though the north. The Jandola, Kaitu and Tochi are smaller rivers in this area. The rod kohi system (flood irrigation, or torrent-spate irrigation) is commonly practised mainly in the FR areas. The Gomal and Tochi mountain passes in the south connect Pakistan to Afghanistan.

FATA is characterized by a very strong tribal structure and very rich ethnic diversity and cultural heritage. However, scanty material is available on the ethnic diversity of the area. There are about a dozen major tribes with several smaller tribes and sub-tribes. Utmankhel, Mohmand, Tarkani and Safi are the major tribes living in Bajaur and Mohmand. Afridi, Shilmani, Shinwari, Mulagori Orakzai are settled in Khyber and Orakzai while the FRs of Peshawar and Kohat are occupied by Afridi. A good mix of Turi, Bangash, and Masozai inhabit Kurram Agency. Major tribes of North and South Waziristan are Darwesh Khel Wazirs with a pocket of Mahsuds in the central part of the region. Other tribes of the region are Utmanzai, Ahmadzai Dawar, Saidgai, Kharasin and Gurbaz. Bhittani occupies FR Lakki and Tank, while FR Bannu is Wazir. Ustrana and Shirani tribes live in FR D.I. Khan.

The cultural heritage of FATA is very rich in terms of hospitality, tribal arts and crafts, historical places, ethnic diversity and natural beauty. The tribes are used to looking after their own resources and solving local problems. They take collective action in support of economic and social activities such as, supporting each other on special occasions like death and marriage ceremonies, harvesting and threshing of crops, construction of Hujra (a meeting place), mosque, buildings and cleaning of irrigation channels, protection from flood, maintaining paths, wood and grass cutting etc.

Jirga and Malki systems are strong and powerful local institutions for the reconciliation and resolution of local disputes and even to punish those who violate the local rules and customs. If the dispute is of bigger nature between the tribes then the PA, MNA and Senators, Maliks and elders, sometimes from neighbouring FRs/agencies also participate in the jirga to resolve the disputes. Maliks and elders are nominated both by the accused and the grieved. The people have to accept the decision made by the jirga. The jirga results are presented to the PA for information and record. If any one of the party is not happy or satisfied with the decision made by the jirga then the grieved party can go to the appellate court and then the Home Department, GoNWFP who decides the case under the FCR. Sometimes the jirga uses local power, which they have by tradition such as, Muchalga (fine), to eject a person or even a family from their area as a punishment or impose heavy fine and destroy/put their houses and property to fire. The whole tribe makes a lashkar (group together) for the implementation of the decision taken by the jirga. Due to these strong local traditional rules the reported crime rate in FATA is low. However, with the passage of time the element of corruption has also entered this traditional dispute resolution system. It is reported that the poor and vulnerable cannot afford to have a jirga. There are a lot of requirements of jirga like hospitality and many other things, which the poor cannot afford. Thus Jirga is now becoming very expensive to convene. There is a grievance among the people that most of the time the ultimate decision is in favour of the rich and the influential.

A Malik has his own status in his tribe. The PA gives him some amount as Mojib (allowance) periodically to run his local hospitality expenses. The local people respect Maliks possessing good quality, quantity of weapons and the number of male members to use these weapons when needed.

Traditionally the household head has a strong hold and decision-making power for the whole family. The wives are traditionally submissive to their husbands and the likelihood of divorce or separation in the tribal society is negligible. If there is dislike and conflict between wife and husband, he will marry another girl if he is rich and also keep his old wife as well.

People of FATA are represented both in the National Assembly of Pakistan by 12 independent Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) who are elected. They are represented in the Senate of Pakistan by eight senators who are selected by these 12 MNAs, mostly by the amount of money they possess. FATA has no representation in the Provincial Assembly of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, although they live a few yards apart and arePashtuns.

The FATA contain proved commercially viable reserves of marble, copper, limestone and coal. However, in the current socio-political conditions, there is no chance of their exploitation in a profitable manner.

Industrialization of the FATA is another route or remedy proposed for rapidly breaking up tribal barriers and promoting integration. The process of industrialization through a policy of public/private partnership would not only provide employment opportunities and economic benefits but also assist in bringing the youth of the tribal area on par with those of developed cities in the rest of the country.

The tribesmen when they are in their local area generally wear their traditional clothes with a large turban and rifle on shoulder. The women-folk generally use printed cloth and observe strict purdah from outsiders. Their working and festival dresses are all the same with the exception that they wear new dress on festivals like Eid and marriage or visiting relatives outside the village. In the winter season the males use a woollen blanket, while the female dress remains the same. Tribal women are very found of wearing ornaments and jewellery of all type made of gold and silver.

A lot of money is spent on the local ceremonies, particularly on marriage, death, birth and other ceremonies/festivals like celebration of Eid and performing Haj.

There are few livelihood opportunities available to the people. The local economy is chiefly pastoral, with agriculture practiced in a few fertile valleys. Most households are engaged in primary-level activities such as subsistence agriculture and livestock rearing, or small-scale business conducted locally. Others are involved in trade within the tribal belt or with down-country markets. Women take active part in agricultural activities, collect fuel wood and fetch water, besides attending to household work and family duties.

With few industries and only limited unorganized mining in some areas, many seek employment as short-term unskilled labourers or enlist in local security and paramilitary forces. Those who are able to travel find work in cities across Pakistan as well as in the Middle East, using their earnings to support families at home. The more highly qualified among them have in many cases migrated permanently along with their families to urban centres outside the tribal areas, including Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan and Peshawar.