Showing posts with label FATA and KP NEWS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FATA and KP NEWS. Show all posts

Time To Decide The Fate Of FATA

After the security situation somehow improved, the FATA Parliamentarians tabled the bill in the National Assembly seeking merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtukhwa (KP). The tabling of this bill actually highlighted once again the issue of FATA - whether it should be brought under the umbrella of parliament or left as it is to the prerogative of president, a ceremonial head of the state, who only controls FATA.

We have seen a lot of uproar in the past two months over social and conventional media about the fate of FATA. Social media users were rigorously using twitter hashtags of MergeFATAWithKP, FATAMerger, FATAMergerWithKP, taking to Facebook to share their views about FATA status. There was all of sudden this groundswell of opinion seen everywhere in FATA and KP as FATA Siyasi Ittehad (FSI) supported by Awami National Party (ANP), Jamat-i-Islami (JI) , Jamhori Watan Party (JWP), Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Peoples party took rallies to D-chowk of parliament to press for the merger of FATA into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Conventional media also carried many stories on this subject. But the crescendo of voices died just as suddenly as it had erupted. Why?

The FATA parliamentarians (yes, theoretically they are parliamentarian but practically they cannot even legislate for FATA) for whatever political reasons gave up on the proposed 22nd amendment tabled and pursued by them in the parliament and that happened after the government constituted a “special powered” committee with no members from FATA to decide the fate of the region.

Like always, someone else is deciding the fate of tribal areas in the presence of FATA representatives. That is why the FATA Siyasi Itehad (FSI) rejected the formation of this committee, while the FATA Grand Alliance (FGA)- an alliance of Maliks (tribal elders) welcomed it because they want an elected council or province for FATA and rejects merger of FATA with KP. Jamiat-ullema-e-Islam JUI (F) also rejects merger of FATA with KP.

The FGA and JUI (F) think that becoming part of KP will undermine importance of tribal traditions such as Jirga and other customs. What they don’t know or don’t want to know is that those living in KP are also Pakhtuns and has been happily exercising their traditions whether that is Jirga or anything else even under the umbrella of parliament. This sort of parallel system exists everywhere in Pakistan. For instance, take Punjab where you will find Panchayat. In Sindh, the Wadera system continues to exist. Aren’t they tribesmen having traditions? I guess nobody is saying we’re better than them.

And also this notion that tribal people are better – by way of tradition and values - than those living in KP is in fact racism. It hurts one to see even tribal educated folks saying that Pakhtuns in KP have compromised their traditions and they don’t want to be part of it. We don’t have to be rocket scientists to know that Pakhtuns living in KP are better educated with more schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, courts, playgrounds, and far better established infrastructure which is being used by people from tribal areas since ages.

So what is the best possible scenario?

If the government makes the tribal areas a part of KP, the tribal people will get rid of centuries old draconian law known as Frontier Crime Regulation (FCR) that prohibits freedom of expression and speech and this will ultimately contribute to information economy, which is absent in this region since becoming part of the country.

If the government makes it a part of KP, the tribal people will get out of the isolation syndrome that is preventing them from change and thus they will embrace physical and emotional development.

By becoming part of KP, the almost 10 million population of tribal areas will add to KP and that will increase the province's share in the NFC Award because it goes to the provinces on the basis of population.The mainstreaming will open up FATA to business, tourism, communication, if not immediately, at least after a few years and people will experience a positive change.

KP and FATA share a common ethnicity and therefore they understand each other well because many tribesmen from Bajaur to South Waziristan have been living in KP for many years and for many reasons.Also geographically, KP and FATA are connected and dependent on each other for education, health, business, and communication.

If someone has to go to Orakzai from Bajaur, he has to go through Peshawar and Kohat as there is no direct road between these two. And there is even no direct road that connects all agencies. Making such road is next to impossible because one has to break the mountains that are separating agencies.

In case of having FATA as a separate province from KP, there will be disputes on which agency will be the capital of FATA and that could be tough decision to make. The FATA areas even don’t have their own civil servants and they borrow it from KP. And finally, now the military establishment also likes to see the fate of FATA decided because the local administration has badly failed to counter radicalism and militancy.

The best possible scenario available at this time for FATA is to merge with KP. And if the FATA Parliamentarians invoked the 22nd amendment and passed it from the parliament, they will be remembered as saviors of FATA in the days to come.

Why was TNN established?

Women in FATA find a voice

By Huma Yousuf

PESHAWAR: In a small recording studio in Peshawar, Asma rushes around with a minidisc recorder. She has to finish editing a news bulletin and make it back to her home in Nowshera before it gets dark. ‘If I don’t get the bulletin done in time for this evening’s show, the station won’t let me continue as a radio journalist,’ she says. ‘But if I don’t get home on time, then my parents won’t let me continue working either.’

Asma is one of 15 reporters for Radio Khyber, a Jamrud-based FM radio station, and one of the few legal media outlets in Pakistan’s tribal belt. The station, which is supported by the Fata Secretariat, aims to counter the extremist, pro-jihad and anti-West programming that is typical of dozens of illegal radio stations run by hard-line clerics throughout the tribal agencies.

The station’s programming is notable – listeners enjoy a mix of infotainment shows, call-in talk shows, development-oriented programmes that touch on social taboos and health care, and music, particularly hits in Pashto by Fata-based artists. Broadcasting for a total of six hours a day – three hours in the morning, and then again in the evening – the station also airs religious programming, but sermons or religious discussions are kept short and are sandwiched between music shows and humorous chat shows.

What is particularly remarkable about Radio Khyber, though, is that it employs three women as radio journalists. Given that women in the tribal belt do not have as many job opportunities as their counterparts in settled areas or major cities, the option to work for Radio Khyber is invaluable. But the symbolic value of these women’s participation in the station is even more important.

According to Aurangzaib Khan, the manager of Media Development at Internews Pakistan – a non-profit organisation that trains radio journalists – it is highly unusual to have women’s voices on the airwaves in Fata. ‘People in the tribal areas don’t like it if their women call in to radio shows. They think it is shameful if their voices are broadcast on air because the radio goes to the public,’ adds Tayyab, Radio Khyber’s news editor. In fact, when women call the station to request songs or ask questions during a talk show, their queries are broadcast on air under men’s names.

In this context, Asma and her female colleagues’ determination to be radio journalists is admirable. But it also means that they have had to defy their families to pursue the career of their choice. For example, Kulsoom, a radio journalist from Quetta who is temporarily based in Peshawar to work with Radio Khyber, says that her parents and brother strongly disapprove of strange men hearing her voice on air. ‘But I wanted to do something unique,’ she says. ‘I’m the first Pathan girl from Balochistan who has come into the media.’

Hear more about how Kulsoom’s family has responded to her decision to be a radio journalist in the following clip:

In addition to their families, the women had to overcome their own reservations about entering the public sphere. Andaleeb, a young reporter from Landi Kotal, admits that she wanted to work behind the scenes. ‘I was scared of reporting and had heard that women face problems when they come into the field,’ she says. ‘But once I started I realised we get more respect than the men and everyone is more cooperative.’

Andaleeb describes how she overcame her anxiety about field reporting in the following clip:

Now, Radio Khyber’s female reporters know that their struggle to be on air is worth it. For example, Andaleeb is proud of her involvement with Radio Khyber. ‘It’s good that we’re the voice of the people,’ she says, ‘but it’s even better that we’re the voice of the women. If you only run men’s voices on the station then how can anything change? If women get on air then maybe other women will be encouraged to call and maybe even come into this field one day.’

That said, none of the female reporters are willing to be confined to covering women’s issues alone. ‘Sometimes my inner woman says that I should focus on women’s issues,’ says Kulsoom, ‘but then I think that if men can do something, then why not me too?’ Asma also complains that female journalists ‘get dumped with women’s issues, but we should be able to do anything – we should be able to touch all issues.’

In the following clip, Asma explains why female reporters should not be confined to covering women’s issues:

Between them, Asma, Andaleeb and Kulsoom have submitted news bulletins on traffic, health issues, imprisoned children, taxation, strikes, the plight of internally displaced persons, military operations against militants in Khyber Agency and more. As such, they comprise an integral part of Radio Khyber’s reporting team, the most vital wing of the station.

Under the Fata Secretariat’s direction, Radio Khyber was meant to restrict its programming to music and entertainment shows. ‘Once the military operations and Talibanisation began, we felt that in our position as journalists, we had to do something more,’ explains the news editor Tayyab. ‘The mood in the tribal belt was not for fun programmes, so we opted to do news bulletins. In a crisis, people want to hear what’s happening down the road, they want the facts so they can make up their mind.’

For that reason, Radio Khyber now offers regular news bulletins on happenings in Fata by local journalists, including the female reporters. The station’s news offerings have secured its popularity among listeners in the tribal areas, who are slowly gravitating away from the illegal FM broadcasts of clerics to hear locally relevant news and information. And hearing a woman’s voice deliver the latest news or conduct an interview with a government official is the beginning of an important paradigm shift. ‘When a woman does reporting, it reminds the listeners that she exists, that she is also participating in society, that she also has information and skills to offer,’ says Asma.

Luckily, now that Radio Khyber’s female reporters have been bitten by the reporting bug, residents of Fata can expect to hear from them regularly. ‘I want to do on-the-spot reporting,’ says Asma. ‘Women aren’t usually allowed to do this, but I want to cover the military operations underway in the agencies.’ Having entered the public sphere, these women are here to stay.