Geographical Importance of Fata

Topics: Pakistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Central Asia Pages: 12 (4009 words) Published: April 20, 2013

The spectacular land in which the Pathans live has had a major effect on their history and their way of life. — J. W. Spain
Geography has a significant position in making of a nation’s fortune; either in the shape of geo-politics or geo-economics. It can shower blessings or bring curse to the residents of the locality as one can’t change the geography. It is well said that a state’s political system, economic structure, judicial organization, demographic size and relations with other states can change according to the needs and aspirations of the people but one thing remains constant, and that is “geography”. If one cannot change the geography of a region but at least can mould its contours. It means that the method of handling is important to invite the blessings or curse of a region’s geographical location. To testify the above, FATA presents an excellent example. FATA is situated on the North-Western side of Pakistan bordering with Afghanistan. Since the ancient times, FATA has been a testing-ground of the empires’ ambitions to fulfill. Alexander the Great, Chengiz Khan, Taimur the lame, the Mughals, the Turks and the British Empire have touched the Pakistan’s Tribal Lands to pursue their adventures. All of these political campaigns have left long-lasting impacts on the fate of tribal people. The land has seen Great Game between the Russian and British Empires in the last two centuries and also a race between the two super powers (US & USSR) in the Cold War era. Now FATA is experiencing another ill-fated adventure of “War on Terrorism”. The status of FATA and its proximity to Pakistan Afghan border are a serious challenge for Pakistan on a number of levels. Historically, along Afghanistan it has been an arena for imperial competition, a battle ground and a definite invasion route. The area had been a launch pad for the exercise of influence in Kashmir, Sub-Continent and Afghanistan. Recently it has been emerged as source of terrorist and criminal activity that threatens Pakistan’s national security. The region due to its geographical location has a geo political and economic significance as it is a potential trade route for economic development of the Central Asian states and for peace and prosperity in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Geo-Political Setting
The North West Frontier is not only the frontier of India. It is an international frontier of the first importance from military point of view for the whole empire. Simon Commission
The region which includes, “Afghanistan and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has perhaps seen more invasions in the course of history than any other country in the world.”  During all this period the plains had been dominated by great powers, the hill tract and tribes continued to value and protect their independence. For centuries, tribal society has persisted in the FATA, and remained open for numerous invaders out of those the most important are Alexander the Great (356 BC-310/309 BC), the Great Genghis Khan ( 1162 to1227), and Timur Lung (1336 to1405). The people of this region always defended their homeland against all sorts of external aggressions. Over the period of time, this response has made them passionately autonomous. With the exception of Aurangzeb Alamgir, other rulers followed a policy of conciliation desisting from all direct and indirect interference in the internal affairs of the area. In this paper the focus on FATA history will be from the era of British supremacy in the Sub-Continent till todate.


British Supremacy
During early 19th century, the British had established their supremacy over the subcontinent except Balochistan, Sindh and the northwest tribal belt. It was the period when Russia was advancing southwards in Central Asia. The British Government in England was perturbed and thought it an “imminent threat to the security and tranquility” of the Indian Empire and...
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