A new peace brief examines the strengths and weaknesses of recent reforms to the regulation of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).


  • Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) remain mired in an archaic century-old system of indirect governance that provides space in which militant movements have thrived.
  • President Asif Ali Zardari recently announced the FATA Local Governance Regulation 2012, establishing a system of local councils in the troubled tribal region.
  • Although the regulation is disappointingly vague, and retains the sweeping prerogatives of the central government, it appears to have been driven in part by the army’s interest in building civilian governance capacity in conflict-torn areas.
  • The governments of Pakistan and the United States, along with local and international stakeholders, should advocate for continuity of implementation, insist on party-based local council elections, encourage experimentation within the bounds of the regulation, link the new councils to existing development structures, press the government to articulate a longer-term political vision for the FATA, and be realistic about the necessity of the army’s active involvement in shaping governance policy in the tribal areas.

About this Brief

Joshua T. White was a 2011–12 Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar at the U.S. Institute of Peace. He holds a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, and conducted a portion of this research in conjunction with a generous grant from the American Institute of Pakistan Studies. Shuja Ali Malik received his M.Sc. in International Relations from Quaid-e-Azam University, and works as a producer at an Urdu-language news service in Islamabad. The views expressed in this brief do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Institute of Peace, which does not take policy positions

Related Publications

Pakistan Pursues a ‘Reset’ in U.S. Relations

Pakistan Pursues a ‘Reset’ in U.S. Relations

Friday, October 5, 2018

By: USIP Staff

Even with U.S.-Pakistani relations badly frayed over the war in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s new government wants to seize an opportunity for a political solution of that war, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said October 3. A “new convergence” of thinking among the Pakistani, Afghan and U.S. governments is creating much of that opportunity, Qureshi said at USIP in his first visit to the United States under the two-month-old government of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Democracy & Governance

What will Pakistan’s Foreign Policy Look Like Under Imran Khan?

What will Pakistan’s Foreign Policy Look Like Under Imran Khan?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

By: Moeed Yusuf; USIP Staff

As Pakistan faces a number of vexing regional and international challenges, Prime Minister Imran Khan will come into office with little foreign policy experience. Whether it’s repairing deteriorating U.S.-Pakistan relations or managing nuclear tensions with India, Khan’s ability to steer foreign policy will depend on his relations with...

Global Policy

View All Publications