Pakistan’s Colonial Legacy: FCR and Postcolonial Governance in the Pashtun Tribal Frontier

Abstract: Postcolonialism, as a discipline and approach, offers an analytical lens through which to investigate problems in formerly colonized states of Africa and South Asia, along with a poststructuralist perspective on culture and discourse on politics of representation. Pakistan is one such former colony where postcolonial narratives and the persistence of colonial legacies such as the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR), on its periphery of Pashtun-dominated tribal areas of FATA, has contributed to growing instability in the region. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is a colonial-era legal framework of exception – created and implemented by the British Raj to tame Pashtun tribes – that is still used by the state of Pakistan to govern the tribal areas. The persistence of FCR’s colonial legacy has also negatively affected Pashtun culture and its traditional conflict resolution structure of Jirga, or tribal councils, which now mostly serves as an advisory body for the Political Agent, who is given executive powers under the FCR. The essay concludes by arguing that abolishing the FCR and the mainstreaming of FATA, together with bringing all stakeholders onto the same page, is the only way to rid the tribal areas of a harsh colonial legacy.

Farooq Yousaf
Taylor and Francis Online