Law, Rights, and the Colonial Administrative System: A Critical Note on the Frontier Crimes Regulation (1901) in the FATA, Pakistan
This article focuses on the administrative and judicial system in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. These areas were once part of the battleground of the ‘Great Game’ of imperial domination in the 19th century. In that colonial period, for effective control of these areas, the British administrators designed a series of crime regulations, which had oppressive consequences for tribesmen. With these regulations, the colonial administration consolidated the long-term basis of their power and institutionalized an oppressive administrative-judicial system. For this purpose they also engaged local elites and customs. The administrative-judicial system introduced on the Northwestern border was different from the criminal and civil laws introduced elsewhere in British India. In 1947, when British colonial governance ended and the tribal areas became part of Pakistan, the oppressive colonial system of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) continued. It is still in force to the present day. In this article, I discuss the control structure of the administrative-judicial system that was imposed through these crime regulations in the FATA. I argue that these regulations are against fundamental rights prescribed in Pakistan’s Constitution of 1973 and the UN Human Rights Charter. I also highlight the plight of tribal people suffering politically, socially, and economically due to these undemocratic and discriminatory regulations, which are unduly unjustified and defended by a group of people with vested interests.
Key Words: FATA, FCR, tribal control system, fundamental rights.