Voices from FATA #43 (June 2013)


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Voices from FATA #43 (June 2013)

  1. 1. 1 Voices from FATA | May-June 2013 | Issue No. 43 EDITOR’S CORNER Dear Readers, In view of CAMP’s continued efforts to support women’s rights through our interventions, we present to you the May-June issue of ‘Voices from FATA: Women in 2013 Elections Special’ with news, views and opinions on tribal women’s participation in the 2013 General Elections. 2013 has been a historic year for the tribal areas in terms of a record women voter turnout, the first ever female political candidate, Badam Zari, and political mobilisation of women by various parties. In this issue, we pay tribute to the courageous tribal women who cast their votes despite security threats by militants in our cover story starting from Page 2, which will prove to be a harbinger of change for times to come. Another historic development in the tribal regions relates to the first ever FATA Citizen’s Declaration on Reforms passed by the FATA Grand Assembly of Reforms Council on 22nd June 2013. This Declaration includes demands for reforming the draconian Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR); constitutional amendments to allow FATA Parliamentarians to legislate and determine its status themselves; extension of press laws and PEMRA to FATA; and, abolition of the Actions in Aid of Civil Power Regulation 2011, which provides for arbitrary arrest and detention. For more details on the Declaration, refer to Page 6. Other news include a Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) report on election violence during campaigns, and a demand by the FATA Lawyers’ Forum for guaranteed constitutional rights and protections for the citizens of FATA. To read these news stories, please go to Page 6. With regard to security conditions, May and June 2013 proved to be peaceful in relation to the first four months of 2013; no incidents of mortar shelling, suicide bombing, or inter- tribal/factional clashes were recorded which provided the citizens of FATA much needed respite from constant bloodshed and violence. In addition, the occurrence of drone strikes also significantly decreased. For a more detailed analysis of security conditions in FATA, please refer to Page 5. CAMP feels proud that the women of FATA – in particular Mohmand Agency which had the highest female voter turnout – have raised their voice and become part of the electoral process. We hope that these trends continue in the coming years, both in relation to peace and security as well as political awareness amongst women in FATA since the high turnout during elections proves that the tribal people are indeed geared for political progress and development. Barrister Irum Ali Khan Editor and Advocacy Coordinator CAMP Office, Islamabad May – June 2013 | Issue No. 43 CONTENTS COVER STORY WOMEN IN FATA ELECTIONS 2013 ... 2 FATA SECURITY ... 5 MONITOR FATA POLICY UPDATE ...6 This e-newsletter will be published by CAMP periodically. Its contents may be reproduced or cited provided the source is acknowledged. The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily of CAMP. To subscribe or send your feedback, write to us at: Email: camp@camp.org.pk Website: www.camp.org.pk M O N T H L Y N E W S L E T T E R Editorial Team Irum Ali Khan Said Afzal Shinwari Layout & Design by: M. M. Tahir Saeed P.O. Box 765, Islamabad, Pakistan E-mail: camp@camp.org.pk Website: www.camp.org.pk
  2. 2. 2 Voices from FATA | May-June 2013 | Issue No. 43 WWOOMMEENN IINN FFAATTAA EELLEECCTTIIOONNSS 22001133 The general elections of May 2013 have not only proved a harbinger of change for the entire country, but it certainly did for one particular marginalised group; that is, women from the tribal region. The female turnout in 2013 represented about 34.3% of the total registered vote bank in FATA which illustrates a significant increase from all previous elections. 1 Owing to the conservative norms and culture of Pakhtun society, it is very rare for tribal women to venture out into different professions, owing to the ‘militant interpretation of religion’ which does not permit them to work outside the home or community. Pushing Boundaries: First Female Political Candidate of FATA However, this time, the women of FATA have not only stepped out of their homes to cast their votes, but Badam Zari of Bajaur made history by contesting elections within the agency against 25 male candidates; although she received fewer than 200 votes, her courage is a symbol of hope for many women like her who wish to make their voices heard. 2 Female Voter Turnout in FATA Out of a total 36% voter turnout in FATA – an increase of 5% from 2008 – a general increase in female voters who stepped out of their homes on 11 May 2013 to vote was observed. The female vote bank of FATA comprised of 5,96,079 (about 4%) out of the 14,21,271 registered voters in all according to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) which is the highest ever so far. 3 The following is an agency wise representation of female voters throughout FATA based on statistics gathered by the ECP as well as other organisations: 4 1 “Women and the 2013 General Elections”, Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) http://elections.sdpi.org/pdf/FAFEN%20- %20Women%20and%20the%202013%20General%20Elections%20- %2022%20April%202013[1].pdf accessed on 15th July 2013 at 10:50 am PST 2 “NA-44: Breaking Bajaur’s boundaries, Badam Zari vows to strive for women emancipation” published in The Express Tribune, 10th April 2013 3 Final Electoral Roll 2012-13 (Province and Gender wise Graphical Chart) http://ecp.gov.pk/Misc/GE-2013- Graphs/04_gender_province_wise_voters.jpg accessed on 15th July 2013 at 11:15 am PST 4 Despite many efforts and research, statistics on agency wise female voter turnout in FATA were not available till the date of this publication. “Had I received education, my life would have been very different. I regret my past; so providing education to the children of Bajaur is on top of my priorities.” In an interview prior to elections, Badam Zari, the first woman to contest elections from FATA talked about the serious need for education in her area. Having lived through the problems faced by women and people in general all across FATA, she is sensitive to issues such as lack of adequate health services and basic amenities such as running water which are not available readily. On answering a question on how she decided to ‘push through deep rooted social norms and contest elections’, Zari notes she was inspired by other women across the country who were working for such issues and thus ‘I realised I wanted to give practical shape to my longstanding desire to serve my country and neglected people of my area'. Despite many cultural barriers and challenges, Badam Zari was optimistic and declared that even if she did not succeed in the elections, she would continue her efforts for positive change in Bajaur. “I will not be disappointed if I do not win. I will carry on my struggle for the betterment of my society”. Extracts from interview with The Express Tribune, 10 th April 2013 COVERSTORY
  3. 3. 3 Voices from FATA | May-June 2013 | Issue No. 43 Bajaur Agency Number of female voters registered = 1,20,230 Number of female votes cast = 2,890 Despite having the highest number of female voters registered in FATA, Bajaur Agency recorded the lowest female voter turnout; ECP data shows that only 2,875 women voted in NA-44 (mostly in Barang and Salarzai tehsils) and 15 in NA-43. An unnamed official claimed that the ECP had received reliable information that tribal elders, religious and political leaders as well as some candidates were involved in preventing women from voting. This happened despite assurances from candidates that females would not be barred from exercising their right to vote. Nevertheless, Badam Zari played an important role in encouraging women to come out of their homes to cast their vote, but overall the female turnout in Bajaur agency was disappointing. Khyber Agency Number of female voters registered = 1,16,358 In contrast with Bajaur, the female voter turnout in Khyber agency was high; this can be attributed to the fact that many political parties, especially Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) managed to successfully mobilise women through Dars sessions held in Jamrud and Landikotal which encouraged them to vote. According to some estimates, Khyber had the highest turnout of women in FATA. Apart from some violent incidents, voting remained peaceful throughout the agency which persuaded more and more women to step out as Election Day progressed. However, the local political administration, owing to past experience, was unprepared for the large turnout of women and therefore very few segregated polling booths had been set up which caused some problems. Nevertheless, Khyber did have a relatively high female voter turnout compared to other agencies and FRs illustrating a significant increase in political awareness amongst women in general. Mohmand Agency Number of female voters registered = 55,431 According to various news reports, the highest female voter turnout was witnessed in Mohmand agency, particularly in Ekka Ghund, Khowazai and Bazai areas. About 64 of the total 107 polling stations throughout the agency were set up specifically for women who participated enthusiastically. A Presiding Officer at Ekka Ghund polling station, Ramdad Khan, confimed to The Express Tribune the high number of female voters. In addition, other officials such as Returning Officer Mohmand Dr Ambar Ali “expressed satisfaction over the fact that the first elections in FATA were conducted with transparency where women were a decisive force”. Most female voters were seen casting their votes in NA 36 of Mohmand Agency for the first time in the conservative tribal area; women themselves stated that they had not been stopped by their fathers and husbands, who instead had encouraged them to vote which was a big factor in enabling their participation in elections. Kurram Agency Number of female voters registered = 99,270 In light of recent incidents and threats, elections in Kurram were held amidst tight security. In particular, in Sadda (NA 38), the headquarters of Lower Kurram, ECP postponed elections due to the ongoing military operation. On the other hand, in Upper Kurram (NA 37), women actively participated in elections and were seen voting in throngs across polling stations there; news reports claimed that the female voter turnout was far greater than 2008. Even after elections, women were involved in protests against rigging and violence in certain areas of Kurram. The overall trend of increase in female voters was witnessed in Kurram as well, which is a welcome change in attitudes towards participation of women in political spheres across FATA. Orakzai Agency Number of female voters registered = 46,781 Residents of NA 39 in Orakzai told The Nation that female voters were forced to stay inside homes, while men cast votes on their behalf and thus lost their right to vote
  4. 4. 4 Voices from FATA | May-June 2013 | Issue No. 43 “contrary to rules and regulations of the Election Commission of Pakistan”. But apart from this, voting went more or less smoothly and people used their right to vote despite fears over security; the presence of law enforcement authorities and encouraged people to come out and vote. North Waziristan Agency Number of female voters registered = 10,863 Sadly in North Waziristan, women were universally deprived of their right to vote as it was deemed un-Islamic by religious extremists (NA 40). A few days ago, pamphlets were also distributed at different areas of the agency warning tribesmen to refrain their women from voting and threatening dire consequences otherwise. South Waziristan Agency Number of female voters registered = 65,583 A completely different situation surfaced in NA 41 of South Waziristan; while women were not allowed to vote, male relatives went to polling stations to cast votes on their behalf. Meanwhile, in the NA 42 constituency separate polling stations were set up for men and women, where a large number of the latter were seen arriving to cast their votes. However, media sources reported that soon after polling began, unidentified men began creating a disturbance by opening ballot boxes and tearing up voting sheets. The Express Tribune reported that South Waziristan’s Assistant Political Officer, Hamiduallah Khattak confirmed the incident and stated that the appropriate action would be taken. Frontier Regions (FRs) Registered female voters in FRs F.R. Bannu = 1,691 F.R. D.I Khan = 7,857 F.R. Kohat = 12,079 F.R. Lakki Marwat = 3,930 F.R. Peshawar = 9,297 F.R. Tank = 5,860 Media sources observed that a large number of women did not cast their vote in NA 47 – the constituency which comprises of six Frontier Regions of FATA – due to security threats. Reports of rigging and vote theft were received from FR Bannu where allegedly 2,000 women’s ballots were stolen. Similarly, in FR Peshawar, a Shaheed Bhutto Foundation (SBF) FATA Reforms Council Coordinator reported that until 2 pm, only one woman had cast her vote at a combined polling station. FATA’s Women Vote for Change! Despite security threats, a larger than expected turnout of women (and men) voters in FATA illustrates that political dynamics have changed in the tribal region. Experts and commentators attribute this to the extension of the Political Parties Act 2002 to FATA since it enabled politio-religious parties such as JUI (F), Jamaat-e-Islami and JUI (S) to effectively mobilise women voters in an attempt to outsmart their political rivals. The participation of newer parties such as PTI also helped improve the political climate for women in FATA. Women in Mohmand Agency, casting their votes for the first time ever, set a historical example for others around FATA; this is indeed a very strong message for the entire country that Pakistanis, especially women living in conservative tribal society, are creating a demand for change. In an extremely hostile tribal environment where women have been hitherto excluded from the electoral process, a relatively high turnout of female voters in 2013 and the courage of Badam Zari will no doubt pave the way for opening up more opportunities for them in future. It shows that “they have not lost hope and are ready to go against all militants and terrorists to achieve their destiny for a peaceful Pakistan.” “Media sources reported that in Miranshah tribesmen were informed through mosque loudspeakers early Saturday (Election Day: May 11, 2013) that no woman would be allowed to leave her home and cast vote.”
  5. 5. 5 Voices from FATA | May-June 2013 | Issue No. 43 DRONE STRIKES Jan – Jun 2013 The number of drone strikes has significantly decreased since the start of 2013, with a downward trend continuing till June. A total of 12 drone strikes were reported from January to April, while only two attacks were reported in May and June. FFAATTAA SSEECCUURRIITTYY MMOONNIITTOORR After a violent start to the year, the months of May and June 2013 proved to be relatively peaceful. There were no recorded incidents of mortar shelling, suicide bombing, or inter- tribal/factional clashes which provided the citizens of FATA much needed respite from constant bloodshed and violence. However, militant attacks and security forces operations continued – nevertheless, a positive development of note is that there was minimal loss of life to civilians and infrastructure in both months. In May alone, casualties resulting from military operations and clashes with militants – comprising mostly of security forces personnel and militant groups – amounted to 145 of the total number, 201. The number of IED explosions also went down from 16 in the first four months of 2013 to five in May and June; the same trend can be seen in bomb attacks where 17 incidents were reported from January to April whereas in the two following months, it reduced to 10. 7 1 2 2 1 1 47 7 6 13 6 7 12 6 0 0 0 0 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 January February March April May June No Killed Injured TYPE OF INCIDENT MAY JUNE No Killed Injured No Killed Injured Bomb attacks 8 48 110 2 4 9 Landmine explosions 2 1 1 - - - IEDs 2 1 4 3 3 2 Drone attacks 1 6 - 1 7 - Military/SF operations 7 90 70 2 58 17 By unidentified/militant groups 8 55 18 4 8 5 TOTAL 28 201 203 12 80 33 Figure 1: Downward trend of drone strikes in 2013
  6. 6. 6 Voices from FATA | May-June 2013 | Issue No. 43 FFAATTAA NNEEWWSS FFAATTAA PPOOLLIICCYY UUPPDDAATTEE Constitution's fundamental rights must be guaranteed in FATA: Lawyers The FATA Lawyers Forum had arranged the convention titled “Rule of law in FATA”. Supreme Court Bar Association President Mian Israrul Haq, Peshawar High Court Bar Association President Ishtiaq Ibrahim; PHC Bar Association former president Abdul Latif Afridi and a good number of senior lawyers attended the convention. The convention unanimously passed three resolutions, calling for extending the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and Peshawar High Court to FATA, separating judiciary and executive in the tribal areas and enforcing the fundamental rights provided by the Constitution of 1973. In his address, Latif Afridi said the people of FATA could now raise their voice for their rights. He asked the President Supreme Court Bar Association to hold a convention for the lawyers from the tribal areas on the rule of law in FATA. http://www.scoop.it/t/pakistan-weekly/p/4000885583/constitution- s-fundamental-rights-must-be-guaranteed-in-fata-lawyers Election campaign 2013: around 149 incidents of violence reported: FAFEN Around 149 incidents of election related violence took place during the election campaign from March 17 to May 09, 2013, in which approximately 189 people lost their lives and 667 were injured, Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) claims in its report on general election. The report terms the 2013 general election campaign was the most competitive and violent in the country's history. The Awami National Party (ANP) was targeted most frequently during the campaign in 29 incidents. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was targeted in 23 incidents, the Pakistan Muslim League (N) in 16 and the Pakistan People’s Party in 12 incidents. The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) were targeted in six and four incidents, respectively. Ten incidents involved independent candidates where their workers and supporters were targeted. The hardest hit province was Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, followed by Sindh and Balochistan. FATA saw relatively fewer incidents of election-related violence but the severe militant insurgency in the region continued unabated throughout the campaign. Punjab experienced the least election violence during this time; however, during the last week of the campaign, a string of incidents took place in the province. The predominant targets of violence were political parties and candidates participating in polls. KP and Sindh saw the highest number of attacks on political parties, with Balochistan not far behind. Balochistan and KP were the provinces where candidates, in particular, were targeted most. Polling stations were targeted exclusively in Balochistan. Bombing was a predominant tactic of election related violence, closely followed by gunfire. The high number of bomb blasts in election-related violence is consistent with the implication that most of the violence was perpetrated by militants. A few incidents also involved missiles and all these incidents happened in Balochistan. Clashes between political parties mostly involved exchange of gunfire. In two incidents - one in FATA and the other in Punjab, candidates were kidnapped by unidentified perpetrators. http://www.scoop.it/t/pakistan-weekly Grand assembly okays FATA declaration on reforms PESHAWAR - The FATA Declaration was unanimously approved by more than 300 members of FATA Reforms Councils from all tribal agencies and Frontier Regions at the FATA Grand Assembly in Peshawar. The FATA Declaration represents the culmination of a lengthy dialogue and consensus-building process spanning five years of consecutive local reform council meetings and advocacy workshops regarding challenges in the implementation of already enacted political reforms in FATA and on recommendations for further reforms. The Shaheed Bhutto Foundation (SBF) first launched its campaign in 2008 to amplify the voices of FATA citizens and bring about political reforms in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). As the reforms agenda seems to have lost urgency amidst other priorities, FATA elders, representatives of political parties, ulemas, lawyers, journalists, students and women from the tribal areas gathered so that their collective voices may be heard at the highest political echelons. The consensus FATA Declaration highlights urgent reforms priorities, including effective implementation of the 2011 reforms enacted by the President of Pakistan. The declaration contains 19 recommendations, encompassing essential changes needed to ensure mainstreaming of FATA and political participation of tribal citizens. The Assembly also asserted that tribesmen and tribeswomen must be guaranteed the same fundamental rights enjoyed by other citizens of Pakistan. The FATA Grand Assembly was attended by the Honourable Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Engineer Shaukatullah Khan, who offered his endorsement of the people-driven reforms process in FATA. Senator Farhatullah Babar was also a guest of honour on this dignified occasion. The approved FATA Declaration was Monday presented to Governor Shaukatullah Khan for his consideration. In addition, the President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari has agreed to receive the members of the FATA Grand Assembly in July to formally hear their recommendations as stated in the FATA Declaration. http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english- online/business/28-Jun-2013/grand-assembly-okays-fata-declaration-on- reforms