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Disarming FATA: A Cultural Violence-Cultural Genocide Paradox

Waseem Iftikhar

Multiple Afghan Wars have magnified law and order problems in border
regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan especially Federally Administered
Tribal Areas (FATA). Rampant proliferation of weapons and spread of
Kalashnikov culture all over the country have created new challenges for
Pakistan.Possession and display of weapons as part of tradition and dress has
become controversial aspect of FATA culture. Cultural contours of the region
remained primeval until the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, which
followed almost four decades of a reign of terror, chaos, and turmoil in FATA.
Multiple actors used and misused the 32000 square Kilometers of FATA lands to
their benefit, considerably altering the cultural fabric of tribal life. Now, when the
aspirants of peace are trying to calm the situation in Afghanistan, an effort is
underway to pay special attention to peace building in FATA.
Scholars like Johan Galtung brand possession of weapons as Cultural
Violence. Simultaneously there is a debate to preserve age old traditions and
cultures in tribal societies and any effort to alter these pristine traditions could push
the issue into realm of proverbial Cultural Genocide.
This paper argues that any obligatory cultural alteration in an effort to
„modernize‟ a culture could very well hurt the fabric of that culture to the core.
Traditions acceptable in one part of the world or in a particular culture may sound
offensive in another part of the world, but that is an insufficient reason to impose
change. Results from a small survey conducted in all seven agencies of FATA have
been incorporated in the study to understand the indigenous sentiment on the issue
of firearms. The Survey shows a clear resentment against giving up the weapons
both from cultural as well as security point of view.

Key Words: Small Arms/Fire arms, Cultural Violence, Cultural Genocide, Federal
Crimes Regulation, and Federally Administered Tribal Areas