Establishing the rule of law in erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan through the effective and expeditious implementation of assimilation into adjacent northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) is a key goal and end state for all stakeholders involved in the much-awaited process.In the rapidly evolving geostrategic climate, FATA has been facing huge security challenges. In the last week, the Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua addressed a conference cautiously urged that the “presence of the Islamic state in Afghanistan is a permanent threat to the security of Pakistan”. Threat looms at large in adjoining lawless northwestern tribal terrains with Afghan border. The socioeconomically vulnerable tribal territories have the potential yet again to turn into an operational and ideological base for insurgent groups pursuing political, ideological or economic influence. According to the BBC research published last November, IS presence in 30 Afghan districts which includes the Capital city of Kabul and Jalalabad in Nangarhar Province. The province which has a close geographic proximity to Pakistan’s tribal territory has put Pakistan in an uncomfortable position.Keeping the geostrategic environment in perspective, the merger therefore, is a critical aspect of securing peace and preventing future conflict in the unquiet tribal territory which has remained the fountainhead of jihad for a long time. However, recent development through general elections in Pakistan placed the right political party in power, at the right time to complete the FATA merger. Although to fill the enormous deficit of infrastructure, to shift from paramilitary to police practices in post-conflict environments, and to establish effective and sustained rule of law institutions to ensure the sufficient supply of funds, is not a straightforward task.Although, Prime Minister Imran Khan, whose party took a firm stand on the FATA merger even before coming in power, has been taking special interest in the FATA’s stability transition process into KP, especially to prioritize the more immediate socioeconomic and political problems. In this regard, the PM constituted a twelve members task force to ensure the speedy and coordinated merger of FATA with KP, also directed to speed up the process of National Finance Commission (NFC) Award. Under this economic award, the government planned to allocate 3 percent of the NFC economic program for a ten year plan to expedite the infrastructural development of integrated areas.While ensuring the implementation of the FATA mainstreaming process, Prime Minister Khan also apprehensively indicated some forces which constantly have been orchestrating against the integration and which tend to mislead people to protect their own vested interests.Sketching the challenges we face, the question arises, how to resist and cooperate against the insidious internal and external forces which actively tend to sabotage the merger? and how to facilitate a seamless mainstreaming process by potentially addressing the security and the underlying political and socioeconomic trials and tribulations of the tribal areas.To understand FATA mainstreaming in its proper context, we can use theoretical terms. In this regard the Theory of Political Integration authored by Claude Ake aptly justifies the integration of FATA with KP.However, the Theory of Political Integration argues that the process of political integration involves the progressive development among members of a political system of a deep and an unambiguous sense of identity with the state and other members of the civic body.The author stresses that a successful drive for integration in a political system requires it to be authoritarian, consensual, identific and paternal. Authoritarianism suggests that the government should be strong and decisive in dealing with any reaction from certain vested interests to overcome the resulting political instability.Consensual underscores the political value of collective responsibility of the ruling elite to address social differences vis-à-vis political integration.Identific demands the elite to identify with the masses and adopt politics of a populistic tone. Paternal means the leaders should father the social transformation through innovation, motivation and confidence-building.Furthermore, the argument follows that FATA mainstreaming needs to be an inevitable objective in order to deliver its people from decades-old instability resulting in the lack of its political and socioeconomic integration into mainstream Pakistan.There is a great need to initiate a large-scaled socio-economic development program as part of the integration process, since it is the only natural alternative to secure peace and prosperity, which is vital for the country’s growth and developmentThis integration needs to be seen and accepted as part of the continuing project of national integration in Pakistan. Second, the drive for mainstreaming needs to be comprehensive, covering the political, legal, security and socioeconomic dimensions. Third, the ruling elite will have to demonstrate Ake’s four characteristics, and be both authoritarian and paternal, as well as identific and consensual.The Fate of FATA largely ties with the successful implementation of a merger with KP. Any negligence or delaying tactics will cause a serious dent in Pakistan’s widely praised counterinsurgency efforts and the sacrifices already made in the past against militants in tribal areas.The people living in tribal areas have suffered the most due to the Afghan war, and later because of that they experienced massive displacement.Nonetheless, there is a great need to initiate a large-scaled socio-economic development program as part of the integration process, since it is the only natural alternative to secure peace and prosperity, which is vital for the country’s growth and development.The author stresses that a successful drive for integration in a political system requires it to be authoritarian, consensual, identific and paternalPublished in Daily Times, December 20th2018.