Pakistan

Ex-FATA and Parachinar’s Analysis: The Legacy of Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) and Human Rights Violations

The Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), formally established in 1901 by the British Raj, was implemented in tribal territories. It symbolizes a period in history known for its oppressive actions. The FCR's rule resulted in the removal of basic rights from residents, such as the right to appeal, legal representation, and the opportunity to present well-reasoned evidence in a court of law. One of the most harmful aspects of the FCR was collective punishment, which resulted in entire communities suffering the consequences of individual actions. This policy granted political agents unchecked authority, giving them executive and judicial powers that were immune to scrutiny or opposition.

Parachinar is a region located in the rugged landscapes of district Kurram, Province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It has been the site of a relentless struggle for survival and justice. The present plight of the community is haunted by the ghosts of history, specifically the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), which continues to cast a long shadow over their ongoing battle. The FCR, a harsh law enforced during the British colonial era, still has a lasting impact on the people of Parachinar. They face numerous complex challenges as a result. This article explores the historical significance of the FCR and its relevance in present-day Parachinar. It sheds light on the intricate nature of human rights abuses and the urgent need for justice.

The Modern Struggle: Parallels Between FCR and Current Situation in Parachinar

Today, the Turi Tribe in Parachinar is facing numerous challenges that remind them of the historical oppression they experienced under the FCR. The Turi Tribe has been caught in a maelstrom of sectarian strife and conflict due to an alliance of Sunni tribes, led by the Mengal tribe. The escalation of sectarian divisions has heightened tensions, causing the Turi community to become deeply entangled in this ongoing struggle. The community's prolonged sufferings have been brought to the forefront, particularly due to recent events, including the harrowing incidents of October 20, 2023.

Tragedy Strikes: The Recurrence of Collective Punishment

The concept of collective punishment was highlighted on May 4, 2023, when a tragic event occurred in District Kurram. The series of events started with the tragic death of Muhammad Sharif near Noorki village and ended with a troubling incident at Government High School Tari Mengal. In a tragic incident unrelated to their professions, four teachers and three tractor drivers lost their lives. The innocent victims who were tragically caught up in the violence had no connection to the land dispute between Pewar and Gaedo, which is profoundly distressing. The motives behind these horrific crimes remain a mystery, highlighting the pressing need for justice and peace in the region. Despite the presence of law enforcement, the teachers were left without protection, and criminals made the terrible choice to record the tragic event instead of showing respect for the victims' bodies. The incident appears to demonstrate a case of collective punishment, where innocent individuals faced the consequences of a dispute they were not involved in. This situation recalls of the injustices witnessed under the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), highlighting the significance of implementing fair and humane practices.

The Escalation of Tensions: Religious Strife and the Issue of Blasphemy

To grasp the complexity of the situation, it is necessary to recognize and acknowledge a series of events. In July, there was a significant escalation of tensions between the Turi and Mengal tribes. As a result, a jirga was convened to address the situation and decided to impose a substantial fine of 12 crore as a means to discourage any future acts of violence. Despite the efforts made, violence persisted, exemplified by the Shalozan Tangi incident. The Turi tribe was severely shaken in August 2023 when a video parodying Imam Hussain's 4-year-old daughter went viral. Despite choosing a legal course of action to preserve peace, no arrests were made about the video, which has raised concerns regarding the effectiveness of the legal system.

The Shadow of Collective Punishment: Violations of Human Rights

The Turi Bangash tribe then strongly condemned the offensive video that targeted Sunni emotions in October, both verbally and in writing. Despite their requests to the authorities failed to respond with any legal action. The situation became more intense due to the actions of Sunni mullah Eid Nazar. He took advantage of the circumstances to provoke emotions, leading to a series of violent attacks on Shia individuals in Parachinar. It is important to note that the Shia community strongly condemned the sinful act.

 Shalozan Tangi observed a significant violation of human rights in October 2023. Amid the current wave of violence, hardworking individuals who were already facing financial difficulties tragically fell victim to a brutal massacre. Several days later, a member of the Turi tribe who had recently returned from Qatar found himself subjected to an interrogation that quickly took an unexpected turn, solely based on his ethnic background. A continuous gunshot attack resulted in one loss of life and three individuals sustaining serious injuries. Later, residents of Parachinar who were on their way to Peshawar faced a barrage of gunfire in an area predominantly inhabited by Sunni Muslims. This unfortunate incident led to the loss of six lives and left six others injured.

The Mengal Tribe plays a significant role in the echoes of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR).

These events have brought attention to the complex dynamics between the Mengal and Turi tribes, reminding people of the challenges faced in the past by the FCR. The actions of the influential Mengal tribe bear similarities to the oppressive methods employed by the FCR, raising concerns about the potential for abuses of power when political agents possess unchecked authority. The practice of the Mengal tribe, which holds the entire Turi tribe responsible for the actions of one individual, raises concerns regarding fairness and justice. The Mengal tribe chose to engage in conflict instead of honoring the agreement, despite the jirga's efforts to discourage violence by imposing a fine of 12 crore.

Pathways to Peace: Charting a Course for Progress

Amidst these distressing events, several important questions arise about the present situation in Pakistan, the future of the Turi tribe, and the prospects for the region. Addressing these challenges requires a comprehensive approach that tackles multiple aspects simultaneously.

  • How can Pakistan establish a just legal framework that effectively addresses blasphemy and hate speech cases, while also preventing the imposition of collective punishment in tribal regions such as Parachinar?
  • What are some immediate steps that can be taken to foster reconciliation and promote mutual understanding between tribal communities, specifically the Turi and Mengal tribes, in light of the increasing sectarian tensions?
  • Concerning the recent incidents of violence and human rights violations, what measures can the international community take to promote peace and stability in Parachinar and other areas prone to conflicts?
  • How can traditional conflict resolution mechanisms like jirgas be modernized to align with legal principles and effectively protect against injustices in tribal regions? What strategies and measures can be implemented for this purpose?

The struggle for survival and justice in Parachinar is closely intertwined with the historical legacy of the Frontier Crimes Regulation and the current challenges it confronts. The urgency of addressing these issues is underscored by the community's resilience in the face of adversity and their demand for justice. In the face of Pakistan's intricate legal, social, and sectarian issues, it is crucial to prioritize the pursuit of peace and reconciliation in Parachinar. This will lay the foundation for a fairer and more harmonious future.

Humera Ambareen is an independent Author and a Ph.D. scholar in International Relations with extensive research expertise in addressing critical social issues.
She could be reached directly at humeraamabreen95@gmail.com

Back to top button