The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is afflicted by the scourge of terrorism, and at the forefront is Parachinar. While the terrorist outfits have penetrated the local populace to a considerable extent in other tribal areas, Parachinar’s dynamics remain distinct, because of its peculiar demographic and sectarian features. Parachinar has stood against Taliban formidably, and has always denied them any strategic space, which is why the area remains a prime target of Taliban and banned sectarian outfits. The scenic valley has a closely knit, predominantly Shia-Pashtun tribal society. Its ethno-religious composition is peculiar and has repelled almost every attempt of the Taliban to penetrate its rank and file. Since a lot is at stake, a number of terrorist outfits, which share the same ideology of violence, have grouped together to break down the resolve of the brave people of Parachinar. Frustrated with the failure of repeated attempts to dominate it, terrorists and their facilitators now have no choice but to use suicide attacks to achieve their goals. Suicide attacks are convenient; they come at a low cost, thanks to religious brainwashing, and their effects are extraordinary. They spread panic and fear and gives more space to the corrupt, inefficient and draconian local administration, which can easily be compromised and penetrated. Moreover, suicide attacks also result in closing of schools, mass-migration to other parts of Pakistan. The people of Parachinar have previously endured impossible difficulties during 2007 to 2012, when they were cut off from the rest of Pakistan due to blockage of road by Taliban and their supporters. Since January, 2017 there have been four terrorist attacks took place in Kurram Agency. More than 106 innocent people lost their lives and 240 were wounded badly in the twin suicide blasts that took place on Jun 23. The situation after the attacks was heartbreaking. The families of injured were in a state of deep shock. The kind of dismal situation and outrage following the incident was inevitable. In the emergency ward of the Agency Headquarters Hospital, mothers were mourning over the bodies of their sons. The injured were lying helplessly on the floors of the hospital. Two to three wounded persons were being treated on a single bed. More than 80 injured were rushed to the Kurram Militia headquarters in hope of being taken to Peshawar in Army’s helicopter, which reached to ferry the ones that were in dire need of help. But it had the capacity to carry 12-14 people only. The locals were asking if the army, governor and political administration did not have enough helicopters. They were of the view that if protection from bombings is an uphill task for the government, the locals should at least be facilitated after the tragedy. Making Parachinar a Safe City is not enough, nor can the compensation amount end miseries of the people. It is time to speed up the process of mainstreaming FATA The people of Parachinar are supposed to show their NICs every time they wish to enter Parachinar city, where they live and work. Additionally, there are numerous check-posts of security agencies. How come terrorists are able to bypass such tight security cordons? This makes the locals think if the militants are being facilitated. But when they dare to raise these questions while protesting outside offices of the local administration, they are shot at. The authorities had opened fire on locals protesting the latest bombing, and many were killed as a result. Making Parachinar a ‘Safe City’ is not enough, nor can the compensation amount end miseries of its people. It is time to speed up the process of mainstreaming FATA. The people of Parachinar do not have the fundamental right to protest, and the value of citizens living in tribal areas has been reduced to subjects of a colony. Every democratic state recognises the fundamental rights of its citizens which mainly include, but are not limited to, security of life and property, freedom of speech and expressions, equality of citizens, right to education and basic amenities of life. These basic rights are also incorporated in our constitution. However, these rights do not seem to apply to the people of FATA. One of the major reasons behind the delayed FATA Reforms is upcoming Senate elections. Soon FATA’s MNAs will be encouraged to participate in horse-trading to sell their vote(s) allegedly for billions of rupees. The self-centered FATA parliamentarians have maintained a pin-drop silence on reforms in FATA and abolition of FCR because of their vested interests. JUI-F has further complicated the situation by opposing the merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), because like the Achakzais of Balochistan, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman is dreaming of governing a separate province, and reaping benefits. FATA as a separate province would be left at the mercy of political clergy, and the results can be very dangerous. Swat’s plight after MMA’s government is a stark reminder here. However, merger with KP would pave the way for development, since there are more political forces that participate in the democratic process of KP. Time is ripe for reforms in FATA, but will the government act anytime soon? The writer hails from FATA and tweets @AmirAbbasTuri Published in Daily Times, July 10th , 2017.