Commander M.W. Ewence, Royal Navy U.K.: Paper provided for the WSN-RCDS FATA Workshop

Posted in Other | 16-Feb-09


This short piece is written by a Royal Naval Officer who has been in Pakistan for 3 months, engaged in liaison duties between the International Security Assistance Force and the Pakistan Military. His knowledge is based on observation, conversation and reading of news and academic papers. His observations and solutions are unlikely to be original, but it has assisted with his own understanding of the region prior to the conference.




FATA has always been the hideout of criminals, but the crimes were not international. It has always been seen as a state outside the state of Pakistan – itself a relatively new entity. It could now be seen as a rogue state that is incapable of controlling its criminals.

Legacy of ISI and CIA support to Mujahadeen – a culture that cannot easily be broken down.

Pakistan’s preoccupation with the ‘threat’ over the eastern border.

Linked to the two above: is there the will within government institutions (including ISI) PROPERLY to tame the FATA?

FATA has never been considered part of Pakistan; people not even elected to the National Assembly before 1998. None of the state institutions apply to the FATA.

Brain drain: the population is 3.8m people, but many of the rich have moved to Karachi and the majority of their children are educated either there or in Peshawar.

Economy: the economy of the FATA has always been based on the mostly illegal cross-border trade – not discouraged by the local political agent because he benefits from it. Smuggling, car-jacking, gun copying are the staples. Is there really the will of the people to change and come under closer state control?

Yet unemployment is rife; there are plenty of young idle hands, who now have a team to belong to and a cause to fight for, and which pays and gives them a gun.

Previous system (clan/settlement councils underpinned by the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) system of justice and the Pashtunwali code) appeared to work, but was not resistant to the gun. It has now broken down, with clan and village elders being killed off and replaced by fundamentalist religious element.

Hatred of the US in particular: through memories of the non-support for the Pak nuclear programme and the ‘dumping’ Pakistan after the Mujahadeen had done the US’s work in Afghanistan.

Pak Army needs help to improve its understanding of COIN: destruction of homes and infrastructure is not followed up by inter-agency development.

Lack of security: NGOs not prepared to go in on the ground and lead/contribute to development projects.

Lack of understanding by the International Community (IC) of the cultural aspects of the FATA. This leads to misguided development projects that can sometimes do more harm than good.

Unwillingness if the IC to accept failure. Pouring money in MUST show results according to the accountants.

World recession: this is very likely to affect the amount of money that governments can give. More will need to be done with less, but this might be a GOOD thing – it may focus on lower budget projects that rely on more local labour.

No overall Pakistani plan for bringing a Security, Governance and Development Plan together. Is it because it is too difficult, or is there just a lack of will?



Sit down and analyse all the problems above. Pakistan, with the IC (those making a meaningful contribution), must come up with a properly coordinated campaign plan that has short, medium and long term goals. This need not necessarily include full integration of the FATA into Pakistan. Turn this into an action plan – one that can be realistically executed. Starting with:


Provide stability through a properly coordinated security plan that WILL provide robust and sustainable security to the tesils and to interational agencies. At the moment, the NWFP police are undermanned, undertrained and underarmed. The Frontier Corps is similarly weak; it cannot protect the local leaders as it should.

Change the mindset of the Army:

- Respect the concern about India, but encourage more resources to go from east to west;

- Wear down the underlying encouragement of insurgency by the Army and ISI;

- Encourage better COIN techniques; those which also include development.


Think big, but start small – governance at the grass roots level first. Encourage tesils to function again – by providing adequate security and the ability to communicate with their neighbours. There IS a will to defeat the Taliban and put control back into the local councils; this must be capitalized on. Then improve governance at the next higher level (the Political Agent) while encouraging industry, commerce, and legal trade.


Commerce must be done by locals, so encourage the decent residents to return from Karachi, Peshawar and other places outside the FATA. People must have the chance to begin proper work – the ability to feel they are making a contribution to the betterment of the village and clan. Education, clean water and other basic amenities must quickly follow.

All underpinned by coordinated, meaningful, lasting work by the International Community across all the three pillars – Security, Governance and Development. Have a single coordinator for the international effort – the World Bank? Above all, ensure that Pakistan stays in the lead.

London, February 19, 2009