Religion, Economics, and Politics in FATA-KP

The Enduring Challenges of Merged Tribal Districts in Northwestern Pakistan

by Tahir I. Shad (Volume editor) Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi (Volume editor)
Monographs XVI, 304 Pages

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Illustrations
  • Tables
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter One: Introduction and Overview (Tahir Shad and Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi)
  • Chapter Two: The Economic Implications of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas’ (FATA) Merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi)
  • Chapter Three: Economic Development in FATA: A Strategic Perspective of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy (Noor Shah Jahan)
  • Chapter Four: The Socioeconomic Profile of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Noreen Naseer)
  • Chapter Five: Religion and Politics in FATA (Fazal Wahid)
  • Chapter Six: From Jihad to Salam in Pursuit of Political Change: A Perspective Based on Qur’ānic Sources (Muqtedar Khan and Tahir Shad)
  • Chapter Seven: Indigenous Economics and the Role of Women in Economic Development of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Zainab Azmat)
  • Chapter Eight: Women Empowerment Through Livestock Management: A Strategy for Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: (A Case Study of Mohmand Agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas) (Shaista Naz and Noor Paio Khan)
  • Chapter Nine: Exposure to Violence, Human Capital, and Market Development: The Case of FATA (Muhammad Nasir)
  • Chapter Ten: Education and Socioeconomic Development of FATA: Challenges and Opportunities (Sajid Ali)
  • Chapter Eleven: Economic Development in the FATA and Impediments to Progress (Amina Khan)
  • Chapter Twelve: Assessing the Potential for Food Self-Sufficiency on Fragmented Farms in FATA (Shahnaz Akhtar, Sher Ayaz and Muhammad Sabir Afridi)
  • Chapter Thirteen: Accelerating Economic Development of Federally Administered Tribal Areas via Improved Transportation and Communication: A Way Forward (Muhammad Sabir Afridi)
  • Chapter Fourteen: Employment and Economic Development in FATA (Saeed Ahmed)
  • Chapter Fifteen: Justification for Construction of Dams: An Economic Viability of the Jabba Dam in FATA (Zalakat Khan Malik and Asfandyar)
  • About the Authors
  • Contributors
  • Index
  • Series index


Table 4.1:School, College, and University Statistics (for Both Girls and Boys)

Table 4.2:Access to Basic Facilities

Table 4.3:Land Used for Agriculture in the FATA

Table 4.4:Wheat

Table 4.5:Rice

Table 4.6:Grains

Table 4.7:Livestock in FATA

Table 4.8:Industrial Units Established in the FATA

Table 4.9:Industrial Statistics in FATA (2010)

Table 4.10:Minerals in FATA

Table 4.11:Minerals Extracted from FATA (2006–2008)

Table 4.12:FDA Funds Allocated to the Development of the FATA

Table 8.1:Contribution of Livestock to Rural Livelihood in the Study Area

Table 8.2:Empirical Results of Chi-square Test Showing Women’s Role in Rural Livelihoods by Managing Livestock

Table 8.3:Empirical Results of Simple Linear Regression Analysis Showing Women’s Role in Rural Livelihoods by Managing Livestock

←xi | xii→

Table 9.1:Comparison of Health Indicators in FATA and KP

Table 9.2:Descriptive Statistics

Table 9.3:Impact of Violence on HAZ

Table 9.4:Impact of Violence on HAZ: Robustness

Table 9.5:Impact of Violence on HAZ: Heterogeneous Effects

Table 10.1:Primary Net Enrollment Rate of Pakistan

Table 10.2:Want for a Male Child by FATA Parents

Table 10.3:Want for a Female Child by FATA Parents

Table 10.4:Services That Government Should Provide to Residents of FATA

Table 10.5:FATA Education Statistics

Table 10.6:“In and Out” of School Children in FATA

Table 10.7:Provincial and National Education Scores of FATA

Table 10.8:Educational Index-District Ranking

Table 10.9:Learning Levels of FATA’s Students (English)

Table 10.10:Learning Levels of FATA’s Students (Urdu/Pashto)

Table 10.11:Learning Levels of FATA’s Students (Arithmetic)

Table 12.1:Descriptive Statistics of Output and Input Used in the Study Area

Table 12.2:ANOVA and Model Fit Information

Table 12.3:Regression Results

Table 13.1:Spending as a Percentage of the Total Annual Developmental Program

Table 13.2:Airports in and around FATA

Table 15.1:Economic Parameters for the Jabba Dam in FATA

←xii | xiii→


That human beings are prone to tribalistic tendencies is well documented in human history. Indeed, the nature of our identity is determined by how we view ourselves as individuals and groups relative to others. In this formation, we choose to select characteristics that identify ourselves as separate or similar to others. These choices are often an accident of history as much as they are of the politics of remembering and forgetting. In today’s world, these challenges are being more acutely felt in an era of neoliberal global capitalism, the on-going fragmentation of nation-states that are retreating into ethnic nationalism or cultural chauvinism, and when questions relating to Islam and Muslims are at the forefront in the minds of policymakers, tribal leaders, activist and community groups, and for the people in the region in general. In this heady mix of a global society facing significant shifts to the tectonic plates that had aligned the twentieth-century world order, South Asia is undergoing a series of economic, political, religious, and cultural uncertainties, and no less than the territory of the FATA-KP region.

In the past years, relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have remained complex, fraught with inconsistencies, and laden with external agitations and influences. In particular, the space between Afghanistan and Pakistan, known as the FATA-KP region, contains many sensitivities facing the two countries separated by the quest for stability, recognition, and acceptance. This territory has experienced intense militarization from the Pakistani perspective and new Islamist extremism problems because of the rise and eventual demise of the Taliban ←xiii | xiv→in the region. The emergence of the Taliban created consternation for the many different ethnic and linguistic cleavages, with many forced to endure systematic targeting as part of attempts to standardize a strict form of Islam, in the process erasing local cultures, replacing it with an oppressive regime that took Afghanistan into the dark ages. It also happens to be one of the most geographically picturesque places on the planet, one that I was able to see for myself when I was able to visit Mingora and Kalam in 2012, shortly after the Pakistan Army managed to defeat the Taliban.

Because of numerous political and economic challenges facing this region of South Asia, the FATA-KP area has faced limited opportunities for economic development and growth. It has received little or no physical investment of capital in the area. As a result, it has left numerous communities locked out of opportunities, with the perennial risk of returning to ethnic and tribal conflict—a consistent reminder of what could easily go wrong. Approximately five million people in the region represent significant challenges for numerous actors. With the official political and territorial merger between FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2017, new opportunities are potentially opening up. This book helps to identify some of the primary issues for policymakers working to determine a series of social, political, economic, and cultural developments in the region. However, the tribal code remains essential for community relations, and it will be essential to tackle these contestations, too. As a net exporter of risks due to this region being unstable, underdeveloped, and mired in perennial conflict, there remain weighty questions. This has had particular implications for Pakistan in the past, given the Af-Pak border’s porous nature.

In light of these issues and questions, this book is a much-needed contribution that is a significant attempt to determine deep insights into the specific policy needs for the FATA-KP region. It explores history, politics, and economics, assessing the impact of unification in 2017 for the region in the future. The book argues that economic development is the only way forward for the region, but geopolitical tensions across the wider South Asian region remains a thorny subject. It also pays detailed attention to specific political and religious issues unique to the area, which is the central focus of this collection of expert essays and papers, all with the specific aim of determining a deeper foundation for policy development.

Tahir Abbas FRSA

Institute of Security and Global Affairs

Leiden University

The Hague

November 2020

←xiv | xv→


The idea for this book came from Prof. Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi at the University of Peshawar, Pakistan, following a conference organized by the Center for FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) Studies in January 2017, at the University of Peshawar, entitled Economic Currents and Opportunities for Economic Development in FATA. Papers presented at the conference form the core of this publication.

No major undertaking can be successful without the support of your home institution and colleagues. We would like to acknowledge here the support provided by The Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture at Washington College, Chestertown, MD, USA, and the Center for FATA Studies (CFS), University of Peshawar, Pakistan.

Dr. Muqtedar Khan from the University of Delaware was instrumental in introducing us to each other and encouraging us to publish this book. Our deepest gratitude goes to him for his ideas, critique, and suggestions throughout the duration of this project. We would also like to acknowledge and thank Dr. Joseph Prud’homme for incorporating this publication into his series on Religion and Politics with Peter Lang Publishing. We have been fortunate to have friends with whom we could share both the fruits and the burdens of rewriting and editing process. Our thanks to Dr. Tahir Abbas, Dr. Melissa Deckman, Dr. Christine Wade, Dr. Andrew Oros, Dr. Daniel Premo, Dr. Shakeel Ahmed, Akhtar Amin, Dr. Syed Fazal-e-Hadi, Yousaf Rahim, Haroon Shinwari, Riaz Afridi, Dr. Gary ←xv | xvi→Ador Dionisio, Dr. Kamran Bokhari, Dr. William Kruvant, Omer Hayat and Charito Kruvant for their camaraderie, constant support and encouragement.

Several people played a key role in the production of this book. Special thanks to Ms. Teresa Abney for all her hard work, along with Julia Jakus, Arif Khan, Dr. Fazal Wahid, Zara Shad, Zahir Shad, Zaffar Shad, Shadia Shad, and Sabahat Shad for helping with the research. We would like to thank everyone from the Peter Lang Publishing team who helped us throughout the process, especially Ms. Meagan Simpson and Mr. Abdur-Rahman.

Finally, this book may not have been possible had it not been for the advice, encouragement, and support given to us by our respective families.

For Tahir Shad- his wife, Dr. Aziza Shad, was always by his side, providing him with invaluable feedback, motivation, especially when unexpected challenges cropped up, threatening this publication’s timeline. My Children Zain Shad, Zaamin Shad and Zeeshan Shad were invaluable in encouraging me to finish the project when it seemed like a uphill struggle.

For Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi- his sister, Sajida Sahar and brother Dr. Syed Masoom Ali as well as his profound friend, Rashid Chughtai were instrumental in supporting his academic endeavors through every thick and thin.

Over and above, all contributors deserve our appreciation for forming the subject material of the book. We are immensely grateful to them for looking at the tribal areas (a neglected region in the past) of the KP with progressive narratives. Their research work pushed us to rethink what we thought we knew and hence we brought drastic changes in our already existing narratives. Thus, editing this book was an education process for us as editors.

Editing this collection of research work was harder than we thought and more rewarding than we could have ever imagined. We hope it is of benefit to all-policy-makers, scholars, members of civil society, and especially our students in the US and Pakistan alike.

Tahir I Shad   Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi

←0 | 1→


Introduction and Overview

tahir shad and syed hussain shaheed soherwordi

Pakistan’s Frontier Region (FR) has been at the forefront of the War on Terror since 2001. The Federally Administered Tribal Agencies (now known as merged Tribal Districts) are a critical geostrategic area for Pakistan. This work highlights key economic, political, and religious issues in the FATA-KP region in order to identify means to eradicate ongoing conflicts and integrate the region within mainstream Pakistani society. The first step to achieving integration was taken on May 24, 2018, when the National Assembly of Pakistan passed the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Reform Bill, which merged FATA with the adjacent Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. Nevertheless, this region faces significant challenges on the road to peace and stability. The analyses in this work discuss the past and present condition of the FATA-KP region with two guiding questions in mind. Firstly, why is the FATA-KP region more unstable than the rest of Pakistan? Secondly, how can stability be improved in the FATA-KP region? Digging deeper into these questions, the authors explore the mechanisms now hindering this region from development and good governance.

This work provides a unique Pakistani perspective and understanding of a region that has not been studied extensively to date. A road map to the region’s development and stability is provided in the following chapters.

The designation of the FATA-KP was the bequest of British imperial power, and, though they have long departed, the region itself is a lingering legacy of the former British presence in 1901. Over the last 100+ years, significant global ←1 | 2→developments have ricocheted into the fragile region with a destructive echo. Since the separation of Pakistan and India (1947), the rise and fall of the Cold War (1947–1991), the Soviet-Afghan War (1979–1989), the invasion and annexation of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq (1990), the Afghan Civil War and the emergence of the Taliban (1992–1996), the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003), the birth of Daesh (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS) and an incalculable expansion of technology, globalization, the fragile FATA territory have been unable to lift itself into the modern era. Situated along the volatile eastern Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the FATA’s legislative stagnancy has resulted in a situation far more dangerous than development doldrums.

This project analyzes the FATA’s geopolitical, socioeconomic, and sociopolitical stability with respect to both domestic and international security perspectives. It is clear that the FATA must be integrated into the main body of Pakistan if there is any hope of increasing the socioeconomic profile of the tribal regions. Increasing development opportunities despite geopolitical insecurities is essential. Herein, we argue that simply addressing the challenges posed by terrorism, extremism, and religious tensions with only military means are not enough. Military overtures must be complimented, and eventually exchanged for economic development so that the region can weather the perennial volatility it faces.

The Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) is a “geographical belt,” comparable in many ways to a buffer zone. This tribal region is located in the northwest part of Pakistan, lying between the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the north and east, Baluchistan to the south, and the neighboring country of Afghanistan to the west. The territory is almost exclusively inhabited by Pashtun tribes. The FATA consists of seven Tribal Agencies and six Frontier Regions (FDA, 2007–2014). Although the Pashtun tribes residing in the FATA bear some commonalities, there are prominent ethnic and cultural differences as well. Therefore, developing a singular, flat model and expecting it to fit all of the unique agencies and tribes would be an impractical approach for the economic development of the region.

For this reason, this project proposes a series of phased economic development reforms that can guide FATA’s transition as an integrated territory within the rest of Pakistan. These reforms can and should encourage dimensions of indigenous economic practices, women’s empowerment, the education system, food security, subsistence agriculture, and transportation and communication infrastructure where possible. These improvements can be implemented in 10+ year plans designed to organize a committed effort to develop and integrate FATA with the rest of Pakistan.←2 | 3→

Particularly over the past two decades, the residents of FATA have been subjected to ever-higher levels of collateral turmoil. These rigors are layered on top of existing economic hardships and low employment opportunities. Notoriously the most impoverished region in Pakistan, stability in FATA oscillates between a perpetual state of domestic insecurity that ranges from “tenuous” to “dire” in direct relation to the fluctuation of violence, warfare, and terrorism.

Throughout this work, stability and security are studied in three major categories. Geopolitics thematically encompasses the analyses on domestic security, international security, terrorism, FATA’s history of conflict, and warfare in general. Economic Development in all its forms (financial capital, human capital, and natural resource capital) is explored predominantly in socioeconomic terms. Doing so emphasizes aspects of local empowerment such as increasing women’s involvement in economic activities (particularly rural, indigenous women) or developing better food self-sufficiency strategies. Supporting education as well as transportation and communication infrastructure also falls within this analytical category.

Because the region’s most profitable market is dominated by illicit trade and trafficking, a significant consideration is given to the nature of the black market. How can these markets be minimized? Creating employment opportunities in legitimate industries is the most logical place to start. In line with socioeconomic development, one study discusses the nature of prenatal and postnatal violence upon human capital, in terms of individuals’ long-term ability to become self-fulfilled and self-sustaining citizens who can contribute to society. Ways to support indigenous economic practices are presented as a potential means of promoting environmentally sound development initiatives. Religion and Politics also play a significant role in the history of conflict within the region. Within this project, it is discussed in terms of moving away from Jihad and toward Selam. Policy perspectives are posed and considered from local, regional, and international points of view as well.


XVI, 304
ISBN (Book)
Publication date
2021 (September)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2021. XVI, 304 pp., 23 b/w ill., 37 tables

Biographical notes

Tahir I. Shad (Volume editor) Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi (Volume editor)

Tahir I. Shad is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Studies at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. He is the Academic Director for the minor in Middle Eastern Studies. He also directs programs in Islamic, Turkish, and Near Eastern studies at the Institute for Religion Politics and Culture at Washington College. He has served as the Associate Dean of Washington College, Director of International Studies, and Curator of the Goldstein Program in Public Affairs. He earned his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh; his MA from the University of Pittsburgh; his PGCE from the University of London, and his BA (honors) from the School of African Asian Studies at the University of Sussex, United Kingdom. His email address is tshad2@washcoll.edu. Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi is Professor, Chairman of the Department of International Relations and Director of the Center for FATA Studies with the University of Peshawar, following a career as researcher and teacher of international relations, conflict resolution, political science and creative leadership. He also remained Director of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in the same University. He completed his MPhil and PhD from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He remained a fellow of the Fulbright, Carnegie, Charles Wallace, Higher Education Commission (HEC), and Edinburgh University. His email address is shaheed@uop.edu.pk.


Title: Religion, Economics, and Politics in FATA-KP