Kids will say the darndest things. And children from the place formerly called Fata are no different.
“Today we joined Pakistan,” said 10-year-old Yasir when we called him up after the news broke of the merger of the two regions into one province. “We got independence today. We have reunited with Pakistan.” He added that the last thing is what he had learnt from overhearing the way his elders were talking at his home’s hujra. The merger of tribal area with K-P is not less than the day of independence for the people of Fata.
“We have been given equal rights like other Pakistanis for which we thank Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi,” he said.
There have been mixed feelings in the place formerly called Fata. In Khyber Agency the few people Samaa Digital spoke to said they were interpreting it as a “reunification” of sorts.
“Shadows of darkness in the shape of the Frontier Crimes Regulation system based on injustice and days of non-accountability are over,” said Najeeb Afridi, 36, a resident of Walikhel, Landi Kotal.
Once the news was aired people formed spontaneous rallies and distributed mithai.
There was a sense of hope that the government would now work on ensuring basic services. The region is 27,000 square kilometers large but has no university, big hospital or industry, said Muhammad Fahim.
“The word ‘Fata’ or ‘tribal areas’ brings lawlessness, militancy, militants and bomb blasts to people’s minds,” he said. Now the hope is that mainstreaming will end the stereotyping.
The residents said that tribalism was symbol of slavery that was specifically used for them in 21st century.
“Credit should be given to all parties for their struggle and this beauty of democracy to give people their rights,” said engineer Shehzad Gul of Walikhel.