Securing Pakistan’s Tribal Belt (2)

2. Background and Context

A. The Land And People Of Pakistan’s Tribal Belt

Harsh geography, poor education, and scarce infrastructure have tended to drive a wedge between Pakistan’s tribal belt and the rest of the nation.(2) With an estimated population of 3.5 million-out of a total Pakistani population of nearly 170 million-the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), at approximately 10,500 square miles, are roughly the same size as the state of Maryland and share nearly three hundred miles of border with Afghanistan. The entire
Pakistani-Afghan border runs 1,640 miles of difficult, widely differentiated terrain, from the southern deserts of Balochistan to the northern mountain peaks of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).

The FATA is the poorest, least developed part of Pakistan. Literacy is only 17 percent, compared to the national average of 40 percent; among women it is 3 percent, compared to the national average of 32 percent. Per capita income is roughly $250-half the national average of $500. Nearly 66 percent of households live beneath the poverty line. Only ten thousand workers now find employment in the FATA’s industrial sector. The FATA’s forbidding terrain further serves to isolate tribal communities from markets, health and education services, and many outside influences.

Pashtun tribes straddle the Pakistani-Afghan border, and the vast majority of Pashtuns live outside the FATA. This ethnic group numbers approximately forty million, and subdivides into units of varying size, primarily based on kinship ties. Analytically, Pashtuns have been characterized as either hill or lowland tribes, with the latter typically more integrated into national (either Pakistani or Afghan) politics and economics. The hill tribes are often depicted as being driven by a fierce concern with personal and group honor, or nang.

Invaders have crisscrossed the tribal areas for hundreds of years, and the Pashtun tribes have gained a celebrated reputation for their independence and martial spirit. Aside from their common use of the Pashto language (and related dialects), Pashtuns also affirm their unity through a code of conduct, or Pashtunwali, that describes a constellation of ideal-type virtues and values intended to guide them in all situations. Much of the literature on Pashtuns depicts these virtues as relating to concepts of hospitality, granting of pardons, and redress of wrongs, but the specifics are open to interpretation. In addition, Pashtuns have developed the jirga process-a dispute resolution mechanism that relies upon a consensus decision by adult male members of the community rather than on formalized criminal statutes applied by an impartial judge.

The vast majority of Pashtuns are Sunni Muslims. Over history, sharply divided and independent Pashtun clans have unified periodically under the banner of charismatic religious leaders, typically in response to external pressures. This aspect of Pashtun identity has gained special prominence in recent decades, but with a new twist. During Afghanistan’s anti-Soviet jihad of the 1980s, local religious leaders, or mullahs, translated an influx of financial support into a massive expansion of extremist-minded seminaries, or madrassas, which trained a generation of students in Islamist militancy. In the post-9/11 period, a younger, even more radical generation has often prevailed over-and in some cases eliminated-tribal elders, thereby upsetting traditional political and social structures.

B. Governing Institutions

Pakistan’s tribal belt falls under four territorially defined mechanisms of governance. The first is the FATA. There are seven tribal agencies (Khyber, Kurram, North and South Waziristan, Mohmand, Bajaur, Orakzai) and six Frontier Regions (Peshawar, Tank, Bannu, Kohat, Lakki, Dera Ismail Khan) in the FATA. By virtue of a special, semiautonomous status negotiated at Pakistan’s independence and reaffirmed in subsequent national constitutions, the president of Pakistan directly administers the FATA through the governor of NWFP and his appointed political agents. Although the FATA has elected representatives to Pakistan’s National Assembly since the mid-1990s, national legislation does not apply to the FATA. Also, Pakistan’s political parties are legally barred from contesting seats there (i.e., all elected representatives are technically unaffiliated).

The FATA is not subject to rulings by national or provincial courts. Instead, it falls under the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), a legal system adopted by Pakistan at independence and rooted in British colonial practice and traditional tribal jirgas. Under the FCR, disputes between tribes and the Pakistani state are managed through the interaction of political agents and tribal representatives, or maliks. Given the egalitarian character of Pashtun society, maliks are best understood as primus inter pares, rather than strong figures of authority. In this respect, Pashtun tribes are quite different from their counterparts in Balochistan, where tribal leaders (sardars) can command far greater hierarchical authority.(3) The political agent is empowered to coerce tribesmen through threats and bribes. His coercive power includes collectiv e punishment of a tribe for the actions of individual members and his rulings are not subject to judicial review or appeal. The political agent’s executive authority is backed by
a local constabulary force (levies and khassadars), and, under more extreme circumstances, by the Frontier Corps (FC) and Pakistani army. All purely internal administrative and policing functions are managed by the tribes themselves.

The FATA’s system of governance is correctly criticized for its lack of democratic accountability and failure to observe basic standards of human rights. Political parties have long advocated opening the region to normal party competition by extending the national Political Parties Act. In his inaugural address, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani proposed a more drastic transformation: repeal of the FCR. Despite periodic calls for reform, those empowered by the status quo-including some tribal elders, bureaucrats, and the military-dominated government in Islamabad-have to this point successfully resisted change.(4) A recent survey of FATA residents suggests that while there is strong support for amending the FCR, there is little consensus on what should replace it.(5) Since tribesmen now enjoy substantial autonomy in their own affairs as well as a variety of government stipends and privileges (including free, if inconsistent, access to electricity), and since tribal territory is collectively owned, the wholesale or rapid integration of the FATA into the rest of Pakistan raises complicated political and legal hurdles, and would be sure to spark protest.

The second type of governing mechanism is the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA), made up of seven of the twenty-four districts of the NWFP and five territories within Balochistan. A number of these districts were princely states incorporated into Pakistan as of the early 1970s and now administered by provincial authorities. The PATA transition has proven to be a rocky one. Weak governance in parts of the PATA, especially in the judicial and law enforcement spheres, has raised calls for the implementation of sharia, or Islamic law, as an alternative to corruption and inefficiency. Observers of tribal politics note that there is no single popular understanding of what “sharia law” should mean, suggesting that it may be far more popular in the abstract hypothetical than in formal implementation, especially if implementation resembles the harsh rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Leaders of the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), an anti-state militant organization that temporarily took over the Swat Valley in 2007, have proven especially skillful at harnessing the appeal of sharia to win popular support. The failure to integrate the PATA seamlessly into the North-West Frontier Province suggests some important pitfalls to avoid when considering institutional reforms in the FATA.(6)

The last two governing mechanisms of the tribal areas are the provincial governments of Balochistan and NWFP, where national and provincial laws apply in the same way as in Pakistan’s other two provinces, Punjab and Sindh. But shared laws and assemblies have not translated readily into shared interests. In particular, the historically dominant role played by Punjab has long fueled resentment in Pakistan’s smaller provinces. Recently, interprovincial disputes have raged over the distribution of revenues from natural resources (gas from Balochistan, water and hydropower from NWFP) and the construction of large dams for electricity and irrigation. To be sure, political and ethnic cleavages run deep in Pakistan and are not limited to territorial boundaries. Violent conflicts between Pashtuns and other groups have raged outside the tribal areas, most notably in Karachi, which is both Pakistan’s most important financial center and home to more ethnic Pashtuns than any other city in the world.

C. Security Forces

The multiple layers of governing institutions in the tribal areas are matched by a variety of security forces.

Within the FATA, levies and khassadars serve under the authority of the political agent. These forces numbered over 23,000 in 2005-2006. They are trained to do light policing, guard government facilities, and secure public figures. In NWFP and Balochistan, provincial police report through the civil service hierarchy, but each force is also headed by an inspector general who is directly accountable to the Interior Ministry in Islamabad. As of 2007, there were 48,000 police serving in NWFP and 46,022 in Balochistan. Pakistan’s police can be called into duty by the federal government for national security missions, but they are trained and equipped only to handle standard criminal investigations.

The Frontier Constabulary is an additional policing organization in the tribal belt, recruited from the settled districts outside the FATA and commanded by officers from the provincial police force. Originally intended to secure the territories just outside the FATA from smuggling and crime, the Frontier Constabulary also performs various light operations throughout NWFP and other parts of Pakistan.

The Frontier Corps is the primary paramilitary force in the tribal areas. For most of its history, the FC has served as a border control and countersmuggling force, on call for law enforcement operations in FATA and the provinces. It is organized under two commands-NWFP and Balochistan-with separate headquarters in Peshawar and Quetta, respectively. In total, the FC consists of roughly eighty thousand troops. Each command is headed by a major general in the Pakistani army, and regular army officers staff senior FC positions on two-to three-year tours.

Because the troops of the FC are recruited and trained locally and administered by Pakistan’s Interior Ministry, the organization is fundamentally distinct from the regular army. Historically, this separation has been reflected through inattention to the quality of FC training and equipment. This negligence was manageable as long as the FC faced lesser threats, but in recent years its units have been tasked to confront well-outfitted and battle-hardened militants. Unsurprisingly, in most instances the FC fared poorly, losing over three hundred
troops since 2001 and regularly abandoning posts. In addition to weak capacity, critics have raised questions about the allegiances of the FC’s Pashtun rank-and-file found in the North-West Frontier Province, particularly when it comes to fighting Taliban and other Pashtun militants.

Throughout Pakistan’s history, the army has served as the nation’s preeminent security institution. It has also regularly dominated politics in Islamabad. Indeed, the persistent imbalance in Pakistan’s civil-military relationship is the defining feature of the national political dynamic. The army’s XI Corps, responsible for NWFP and the Afghan border, is headquartered in Peshawar. It consists of two divisions, the 7th and 9th. In order to deal with the upsurge in violence in the tribal areas, the 14th division (normally based in Punjab) has recently reinforced XI Corps operations.

Since 9/11, Pakistan’s army has played a historically unprecedented role in the tribal areas, where the government under Pervez Musharraf pursued discordant strategies, rotating between heavy military occupation and political negotiation. In June 2002, the army deployed a division into Khyber and Kurram agencies to block al-Qaeda and other terrorists from escaping U.S. attacks in Afghanistan. By 2004, however, it was clear that terrorists had gained a significant foothold in the FATA, especially in North Waziristan and South Waziristan, so the Pakistani army began a series of major search-and-destroy missions. These operations were deeply unpopular and met with widespread resistance, in part because they constituted the army’s first major incursions into the FATA since Pakistan’s independence. This “invasion” was seen as a violation of the promise by Pakistan’s founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, not to send troops into the FATA for any operation and instead to resolve disputes through negotiations and jirgas.

Accepting the army’s poor capacity to manage a lengthy occupation of the Waziristans, and sensitive to the prospect of further alienating tribal populations, Musharraf’s regime undertook a series of controversial settlements with militants and local leaders. These included, notably, the South Waziristan accords of April 2004 and February 2005 as well as the North Waziristan accord of September 2006. On paper, these accords obligated locals to cease their anti-state activities. Early on, however, it became clear that the settlements suffered from weak enforcement, permitting the continued sanctuary of foreign terrorists and cross-border infiltration of militants into Afghanistan. The United States alleged cross-border infiltration increased 300 percent after the 2006 North Waziristan agreement went into effect.

The politically tumultuous events of 2007 also brought the Pakistani army into action in settled parts of the country. In July, army commandos stormed the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, in Islamabad to crush an anti-state uprising, sparking terrorist attacks against government facilities as well as innocent civilians. Over seven hundred Pakistanis have died in suicide bombings in the year since July 2007. The army also undertook major combat operations post-November 3 (when Musharraf declared a state of emergency) to break TNSM’s hold over the Swat Valley.

The Pakistani army was not built to conduct counterinsurgency or counterterror missions. Post-9/11 operations against Pakistani nationals-whether in the FATA, NWFP, or elsewhere-have been broadly unpopular and characterized as “Washington’s war.” By the end of 2007, rising domestic antipathy toward Musharraf’s military-led government precipitated a drop in the normally high esteem accorded to army officers and enlisted men. By many anecdotal accounts, morale in the ranks has plummeted, with predictably disastrous implications for combat effectiveness.

In addition to police, paramilitary, and army forces, Pakistan’s intelligence services are widely reported to play an active part in the tribal areas. In the 1980s, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) worked in the tribal areas as the primary conduit of assistance from the United States and Saudi Arabia to the Afghan mujahadeen. ISI support for different jihadi groups, including the Taliban, continued throughout the 1990s.

The post-9/11 relationship between ISI and different militant operations is the subject of intense debate. Since most ISI officers are seconded from the regular Pakistani army, its characterization as a “rogue” intelligence agency is ill founded. But ISI remains the Pakistani government’s primary covert arm, and Pakistan’s long-standing interest in projecting influence into Afghanistan and India may still color ISI interactions with a variety of militant organizations.

D. Musharraf’s “Comprehensive Approach” And Post-Election Deal-Making

From 2006 to 2007, the Musharraf government began to implement a “comprehensive approach” in the FATA that envisioned the use of limited security operations in combination with political overtures and development assistance. The strategy was intended to combat the underlying causes of militancy by enhancing economic opportunities and improving the legitimacy of state institutions. Islamabad’s development plan was centered on a nine-year, $2 billion commitment to programming by Pakistan and other donors.(7)

But extreme political turbulence through most of 2007 and into 2008 has distracted Islamabad’s attention from the tribal areas. An unanticipated upsurge of popular anti-regime protests was first energized by a grassroots campaign against President Musharraf’s attempted removal of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry in spring 2007. In a whirlwind that grabbed global headlines throughout the summer and fall, exiled opposition politicians Benazir Bhutto and
Nawaz Sharif returned to campaign for national elections; Musharraf declared a state of emergency to remove the uncooperative Supreme Court justices, ratify his election to the presidency, and pave the way for his resignation from the army; and during the campaigning process for parliamentary elections Bhutto was assassinated by a suicide bomber on December 27, 2007. In early 2008, Bhutto’s husband, Asif Zardari, assumed control over the Pakistan Peoples Party, which emerged from elections as the head of a governing coalition that included Nawaz Sharif’s faction of the Pakistan Muslim League.

As of summer 2008, the political dynamic in Islamabad remains extremely fluid. Facing threats of impeachment, Musharraf resigned from office on August 18, exactly six months after national elections. Musharraf’s successor as chief of army staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani, has studiously steered clear of political intrigue. Zardari and Sharif have alternated between cooperation and rivalry, and continue to engage in a marathon series of political negotiations on everything from the restoration of the supreme court to power sharing arrangements in the federal cabinet.

Uncertainty in Islamabad has so far yielded a fragmented approach to the tribal areas. The army appears to be pursuing a strategy conceived prior to elections, which-aside from punitive operations in South Waziristan-has tended to place the Frontier Corps on the front lines in managing militant threats. Pakistan’s new civilian leaders hav e not taken an especially firm hand with the army, exercising only loose command or oversight. By some accounts, ISI has assumed the lead on negotiations with tribal groups, most notably the Mehsuds of South Waziristan.(8) On a parallel track, the newly elected provincial leaders in Peshawar have forged deals with TNSM militants in a localized bid to end violence in the Swat Valley.

To improve coordination across the branches of the government, the prime minister’s secretariat released a statement on June 25, 2008, establishing principles for action in the tribal areas-including the FATA and NWFP-and designating jurisdictions and responsibilities to the governor, provincial ministers, and army.(9) The statement essentially reaffirmed Islamabad’s commitment to the “comprehensive approach,” identifying the continued need for a “multi-pronged strategy” that includes political, military, and economic components.

E. Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations

Since 1947, Pakistan-Afghanistan relations have nearly always been rocky. Pakistan’s leadership has tended to perceive the politics of Pashtun ethnicity, which transcends national borders, as a threat to national sovereignty. This insecurity is fueled by Kabul’s persistent dispute over the demarcation of Pakistan’s western border, known as the Durand Line. Territorial disputes-and armed skirmishes-have been a regular feature of the bilateral relationship. Pakistani proposals to fence or mine the border are understood by Afghans as thinly disguised efforts to ratify an unacceptable territorial status quo. Pakistan has also vigorously pursued repatriation of Afghan refugees to their homeland, with ov er 3.2 million Afghans returning home since 2002, and the remainder-at least two million-set to be expelled by 2009.

The flow of money, arms, and people between Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas has profoundly influenced political dynamics in the FATA. Human and material cross-border mov ement has connected smugglers, militants, and the narcotics trade. Millions of Afghan refugees and their sprawling city-like camps have, over decades, become a near-permanent presence in Pakistan, one that poses tremendous political, social, and economic challenges.

In recent decades, Pakistan’s influence in Afghan politics and warfare has represented a more significant cause of friction. Above all, by continuing to offer a permissive environment for Afghan Taliban operations, Pakistan represents an existential threat to President Karzai’s government in Kabul.

From Islamabad’s perspective, Afghanistan holds strategic value in regional contests against Iran and India. This perspective compels Pakistan to seek a friendly regime in Kabul. Most notably, in the mid-1990s, it led Benazir Bhutto’s government to support the creation and rise to power of the Taliban. Since 2002, Islamabad has suspiciously eyed Indian activities in Afghanistan, perceived as attempts to encircle Pakistan. Pakistan’s most frequent complaints center on India’s consulates in Jalalabad and Kandahar, but India’s wide-ranging construction, training, and assistance programs are all seen as blatant efforts to forge an anti-Pakistan alliance.

Efforts to improve relations between the governments of Hamid Karzai and Pervez Musharraf tended to be more symbolic than tangible. The United States and Turkey have each hosted Pakistani-Afghan summits in a bid to soothe contentious interactions at the senior-most levels. In August 2007, Karzai and Musharraf met at a joint “peace jirga” in Kabul and pledged to convene smaller working groups in the future.

On the military side, Tripartite Commission meetings of commanding officers from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the United States/North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have at times provided a vital channel for strategic policy coordination. U.S. officials are hopeful that the establishment of a Joint Intelligence Operations Center in Kabul-staffed by officers from NATO, Pakistan, and Afghanistan-as well as the six Border Coordination Centers planned for construction on both sides of the border will facilitate the sharing of tactical intelligence and gradually build greater trust.

F. Mapping The Threats In Pakistan’s Tribal Areas

Within Pakistan’s tribal areas are at least four overlapping but analytically discernable security threats: global terrorists; Afghan Taliban; Pakistani Taliban; and a plethora of tribal militias, extremist networks, and sectarian groups.

The July 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on “The Terrorist threat to the U.S. Homeland” and subsequent statements by top officials reflect a consensus view that al-Qaeda’s leadership remains ensconced in the Pakistani-Afghan border region, from where it continues to plan, fund, and inspire attacks.(10) That al-Qaeda leadership is accompanied by between 150 and 500 hard-core fighters. In addition, other foreign terrorist organizations affiliated with al-Qaeda and previously based in Afghanistan, especially Uzbeks, now operate from the FATA. Estimates of Uzbek fighters in Waziristan run between one thousand and two thousand.

The Afghan Taliban, forced from power in 2002, has managed to regroup and direct operations from Pakistan’s side of the border. The former leadership-including Mullah Omar-is said to be based in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan. A major Taliban-affiliated network, now led by Sirajuddin Haqqani, is based in North Waziristan, from where it has successfully launched attacks on U.S., Afghan, and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The links between the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda are ideological, personal, and operational, but to some degree the groups diverge in prioritization of goals and ethnic composition. The Afghan Taliban are a Pashtun movement primarily concerned with the reconquest and domination of Afghanistan and only secondarily with the Arab-led al-Qaeda’s grander schemes of global jihad. However, over the past six years it appears that the Taliban have become more decentralized operationally, more sophisticated tactically, and more influenced ideologically by foreign Arab fighters.

Estimates of total Afghan Taliban strength run to ten thousand, with 20 percent to 30 percent full-time fighters and 1 percent to 3 percent foreign (non-Pashtun).(11) In Pakistan, Taliban recruits are drawn from Afghan refugee camps and the network of extremist madrassas in the tribal areas. Taliban foot soldiers tend to be uneducated, poor Pashtuns with few other employment prospects.

The Pakistani Taliban is a loosely defined mix of tribal militant groups, many of whom united under the banner of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in December 2007.(12) The TTP includes representatives from throughout the FATA and NWFP. It is nominally directed by the now infamous Baitullah Mehsud, alleged mastermind of the Benazir Bhutto assassination. Meshud has sworn allegiance to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, but his public pronouncements hav e also assumed the rhetoric of an al-Qaeda-like global jihad, including threats against the White House, New York, and London.

Then again, it might be more appropriate to understand the Pakistani Taliban as focused on concerns closer to home, such as the implementation of sharia and waging a “defensive jihad” against the Pakistani army occupation of tribal territories. Indeed, the TTP’s true motivations-whether defensive or offensive; local, regional, or global-are an important and unanswered question. It is not clear, for instance, whether the Pakistani Taliban might be cleaved from the Afghan Taliban and/or al-Qaeda in a bid to satisfy localized demands.

Estimates of TTP strength run to over twenty thousand tribesmen, and Mehsud is said to command at least five thousand fighters. He is likely responsible for a rash of suicide bombings throughout Pakistan over the past year. A small contingent of his forces also made headlines when they managed to take hostage over 250 Pakistani soldiers in August 2007. By all appearances, the Pakistani Taliban now represents the greatest threat to security within Pakistan.

Significant militant groups other than the TTP include the TNSM in Bajaur Agency, Swat District, and neighboring areas of the NWFP, founded by the pro-Taliban Sufi Mohammad and more recently commanded by his son-in-law, the popular and charismatic “Radio Mullah” Fazlullah. In South Waziristan, a tribal militia under the command of Maulvi Nazir apparently received Pakistani government support in factional fighting against Uzbek militants over the past year. And in Khyber Agency, another radio mullah, Mangal Bagh Afridi, leads Lashkar-e-Islam (LI), a militant group that has resisted association with the TTP, is active all the way to the outskirts of Peshawar, and desires Taliban-style government.

Besides the Afghan Taliban, militants in Balochistan include those with more localized grievances against Islamabad that are related, in part, to the inequitable distribution of provincial and national resources.(13) In recent years, the violence of the Baloch insurgency has imposed significant costs on the Pakistani army and security forces, distracted the political leadership in Islamabad, and contributed to national instability.

In addition, nationwide Islamist political parties like Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur Rehman’s faction, or the JUI-F) also appear to have connections to al-Qaeda and other militant operations in the tribal areas. These ties are based on personal relationships, ideological affinity, or tactical unity of interest. Historically, the large network of JUI-F-organized Deobandi madrassas churned out thousands of indoctrinated foot soldiers, sent to fight first for the Afghan mujahadeen, and then the Taliban.(14) In addition, there is evidence to suggest that Pakistani militant groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba have, in recent years, become more connected to global terror plots in addition to retaining their traditional focus on operations in Kashmir. These organizations were long nurtured by the Pakistani security apparatus, and their current relationship to the Pakistani establishment is difficult to discern with certainty. Regardless, while Pakistan’s terror problem may begin in the tribal areas, militant networks are now entrenched throughout the country.

G. U.S. Policy In The Tribal Areas

Washington’s early post-9/11 involvement in Pakistan’s tribal areas tended to be indirect, focusing on a liaison relationship with (and financial assistance to) Pakistan’s government and security forces. This relationship was based on President Musharraf’s agreement to support U.S. operations against al-Qaeda and the remnants of the Afghan Taliban regime in return for Washington’s pledge to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty. Pakistan remains an essential-perhaps even irreplaceable-link in the massive logistics chain for U.S. and NATO forces operating in Afghanistan. As of October 2007, approximately 40 percent of fuel (roughly equal to 120,000 gallons per day) and 84 percent of all containerized cargo for delivery to coalition forces operating in Afghanistan passed through Pakistan.(15)

Judging from publicly available accounts, most recent U.S. and NATO missions have been limited to Afghan soil, with three exceptions: U.S. investigations to locate and arrest senior al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan; cases of hot pursuit in which U.S. forces fired upon or briefly chased militants into Pakistan; and the use of U.S. Predator drones to track and strike al-Qaeda and Taliban leadership based in the FATA.(16) The administration of George W. Bush has elected not to risk a U.S. ground presence in Pakistan out of concern for the costs it might impose on U.S.-Pakistan relations or on Pakistan’s political stability, given the expected popular backlash in the tribal areas and beyond.

The vast majority of U.S. post-9/11 assistance to Pakistan has gone to the military. According to a recent Government Accountability Office study, from October 2001 through June 2007, the United States reimbursed Pakistan over $5.5 billion for operations undertaken in support of U.S. and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)/NATO efforts in Afghanistan. In addition, Washington has provided $1.52 billion since 2002 as part of a five-year, $3 billion presidential assistance package.(17) Not until FY2008 were these funds congressionally circumscribed for use only in “counterterrorism and law enforcement activities directed against al-Qaeda and the Taliban and associated terrorist groups.” The Pakistani military relies on the United States for roughly a quarter of its $4 billion budget.

Nonmilitary assistance over the same time frame has totaled roughly $3.1 billion. The combined security and economic aid from 2002 to 2008 was $10.9 billion, the vast majority of which was (until 2008) provided as direct budget support to the Pakistani government.(18) U.S. civilian assistance programming has focused on Pakistan’s education and health sectors. Additional U.S. aid was provided in the aftermath of the October 2005 earthquake, including extensive military involvement in humanitarian logistics.

Until quite recently, U.S. assistance-both military and civilian-lacked a specific focus on the tribal areas. This changed in response to President Musharraf’s March 2006 request for support to advance his new “comprehensive approach” in the FATA. The Bush administration has pledged $750 million over five years in FATA-specific development assistance, complemented by significant new funds for enhancing Pakistan’s capacity for counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and border control.

On the civilian side, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Pakistan mission and the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) are programming and contracting most of the $750 million FATA package. By far the largest single piece ($300 million through 2012) will go to a “Livelihoods Development Program,” including cash-for-work, infrastructure, and vocational training programs intended to offer alternatives for young tribesmen who otherwise have
few choices but gun toting.

Poor security and lack of access to the FATA pose significant challenges to U.S. assistance programming. USAID officials, their implementing partners, and Pakistani employees are now severely constrained in their movements, limiting implementation and oversight, particularly in those areas most ravaged by insurgency. But despite protests from Pakistani officials, nearly all U.S. funds will be channeled through private contractors, raising questions about
overhead costs. USAID has allocated $88 million to support local government capacity and outreach through 2009, which may signal a greater likelihood of direct budget support (rather than contractor-based programming) in the future.

Other development efforts include the Bush administration’s plan for Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs), which would offer duty-free access to the U.S. market for certain types of goods produced in factories in or near Pakistan’s tribal areas. ROZs require congressional legislation and might serve as one part of a wider effort to spur private investment.(19) Other states, including the United Kingdom and Japan, are also making major contributions to
development efforts in Pakistan.(20) Relatively fewer U.S. assistance programs target the tribal areas outside the FATA. U.S. activity in Balochistan is particularly limited.

Following a U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) assessment, the Pentagon has formulated a FATA Security Development Plan devoted to improving the FC, with a price tag running to roughly $400 million over the next several years. An initial 2007 injection of $150 million was devoted to the establishment of two FC training facilities near Quetta and Peshawar, six Border Coordination Centers, four sector headquarters, two intelligence bases, and the gradual addition of eight additional FC wings (700 to 800 troops each) and two new intelligence battalions. A limited number of U.S. trainers will train Pakistani trainers in counterinsurgency tactics, and the Pentagon is providing the FC with body armor, vehicles, radios, and surveillance equipment.


2. For general background on Pakistan’s tribal areas, this report draws from International Crisis Group, Pakistan’s Tribal Areas: Appeasing the Militants, December 11, 2006; Thomas H. Johnson and M. Chris Mason, “No Sign Until the Burst of Fire,” International Security, vol. 32, no. 4 (Spring 2008), pp. 41-77; Noor ul Haq, et al., “Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan,” IPRI Paper 10, March 2005, http://www.ipripak.org/papers/federally.shtml; Naveed Ahmad Shinwari, “Understanding FATA: Attitudes Toward Governance, Religion & Society in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas” (Peshawar: Community Appraisal & Motivation Programme, 2008), available at http://understandingfata.org/report 20pdf.html; Akbar S. Ahmed, Social and Economic Change in the Tribal Areas, 1972-1976 (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1977); Khalid Aziz, “Causes of Rebellion in Waziristan,” Regional Institute of Policy Research and Training Peshawar Policy Report, February 22, 2007; Government of Pakistan, FATA Sustainable Development Plan 2007-2015, available at http://www.worldsecuritynetwork.com/documents/Booklet_on_FATA_ SDP_2006_-_15.pdf.

3. Johnson and Mason, “No Sign Until the Burst of Fire,” p. 62; Akbar Ahmed, Social and Economic Change in the Tribal Areas, 1972-1976, p. 16.

4. For a discussion of th e army’s resistance to change, see Tellis, Pakistan and the War on Terror: Conflicted Goals, Compromised Performance, p. 24.

5. Shinwari, Understanding FATA, p. 70.

6. For more on transitional strategies in Pakistan’s tribal areas, informed by the British colonial experience in India, see Joshua T. White, “The Shape of Frontier Rule: Debating Governance from the Raj to the Modern Pakistani Frontier,” Asian Security, vol. 4, no. 3 (Autumn 2008), forthcoming.

7. See Government of Pakistan, FATA Sustainable Development Plan 2007-2015.

8. See quotes from former Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao in Saeed Shah and Jonathan S. Landay, “Pakistan Military Started Talks with Islamists,” McClatchy Newspapers, April 30, 2008.

9. See press release, P.R. no. 226, Prime Minister’s Secretariat, June 25, 2008, available at

10. “National Intelligence Estimate: The Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Homeland,” National Intelligence Council, July 17, 2007; Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Michael V. Hayden, “Interview by Tim Russert on Meet the Press,” NBC News, March 30, 2008.

11. David Rohde, “Foreign Fighters of Harsher Bent Bolster Taliban,” New York Times, October 30, 2007.

12. For more on TTP, see Hassan Abbas, “A Profile o f Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan,” CTC Sentinel, vol. 1, no. 2 (January 2008).

13. For more, see Frederic Grare, Pakistan: The Resurgence of Baloch Nationalism (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2006).

14. For more on the links between militancy and madrassas in Pakistan, see International Crisis Group, Pakistan: Madrasas, Extremism and the Military, July 29, 2002; Tahir Andrabi et al., “Religious School Enrollment in Pakistan: A Look at the Data,” John F. Kennedy School of Government Working Paper, no. RWP05-024, March 2005; Saleem H. Ali, Islam and Education: Conflict and Conformity in Pakistan and Beyond (Karachi: Oxford University Press Pakistan, forthcoming); and C. Christine Fair, “Militant Recruitment in Pakistan: A New Look at the Militancy-Madrasah Connection,” Asia Policy, vol. 1, no. 4 (July 2007).

15. U.S. Department of Defense, Report in Response to Section 1232(A) of the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2008, 110th Cong., 2nd sess., March 2008, p. 11.

16. On the Federal Bureau of Investigation and CIA role in apprehending terrorists in Pakistan, see Zahid Hussain, Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle With Militant Islam (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), pp. 125-127; On a recent border violation, see Carlotta Gall and Eric Schmitt, “Pakistan Angry as Strike by U.S. Kills 11 Soldiers,” New York Times, June 12, 2008; For recent reports on alleged U.S. Predator strikes, see Joby Warrick and Robin Wright, “Unilateral Strike Called a Model For U.S. Operations in Pakistan,” Washington Post, February 19, 2008; Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger, “Pakistan Shift Could Curtail Drone Strikes,” New York Times, February 22, 2008; Robin Wright and Joby Warrick, “U.S. Steps Up Unilateral Strikes in Pakistan,” Washington Post, March 27, 2008; Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, “U.S. Military Seeks to Widen Pakistan Raids,” New York Times, April 20, 2008. Noteworthy attacks in Pakistan attributed to the use of Predators include May 2005, North Waziristan, Haitham al-Yemeni killed; January 13, 2006, Damadola, eighteen civilians killed; October 30, 2006, Chingai; January 31, 2008, North Waziristan, Abu Laith al-Libi killed; May 14, 2008, Damadola, Abu Suleiman al Jaziery reportedly killed.

17. Government Accountability Office, Preliminary Observations on the Use and Oversight of U.S. Coalition Support Funds Provided to Pakistan, GAO-08-735R, May 6, 2008.

18. Security-related aid ran to $7.833 billion from 2002 to 2008. See K. Alan Kronstadt, “Direct Overt U.S. Aid and Military Reimbursements to Pakistan, FY2002-FY2009,” Congressional
Research Service, May 9, 2008.

19. Afghanistan and Pakistan Reconstruction Opportunity Zones Act of 2008 was introduced in the Senate on March 13, 2008, and in the House on June 26, 2008.

20. On British contributions, see Simon Cameron-Moore, “U.S. Aims to Turn Hostile Pakistani Tribes Friendly,” Reuters, January 30, 2008, “Pakistan Wants UK Aid to Develop Tribal Areas: PM,” Daily Times, April 8, 2008, and “Britain Doubles Aid to Pakistan,” BBC News, July 3, 2008, available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7486948.stm. On Japanese contributions, see Mariana Baabar, “Japan To Help Develop Tribal Areas,” The News, May 4, 2008.


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