The Shahbaz administration wants a settlement with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, which has been outlawed, to give up militancy and take part in mainstream politics. The TTP, on its part, demands that the government stop its military presence in the former FATA that has been merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; repeal the 25th Amendment to the Constitution; undo the merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and impose Sharia law in Malakand Division. That much, it appears, is known. Right? Have you ever, however, thought about what the residents in those districts want? In a 2016 poll conducted by the Fata Research Centre Islamabad, 68 per cent of participants in the ex-Fata region called for the complete repeal of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) and the implementation of a new governance structure. The study also showed that 74 per cent of respondents supported the idea of combining Fata and KP. 26 per cent of the respondents agreed that Fata should be reorganized as a distinct province. In the recently merged districts of KP, the UN-sponsored Community Resilience Activity North project-in collaboration with the respective district administrations–was recently put into action in 2021-2, to assist the local communities in developing their capacity to withstand any community stressors and promote harmony for community development. For the newly-formed government departments to function effectively and deliver targeted services to citizens where none previously existed before the merger in 2018, the effort also aimed to close the information asymmetry among local communities and those agencies. This exercise kept in view the regional circumstances and the ongoing problems that impeded the achievement of any capacity-building in the area. The majority of the residents appeared to be losing faith in the new system and were growing angry about it. Young people and older people frequently have distinct motivations. The widening ideological divide between the tribal areas’ elders and young people has been made clear by the merger. The majority of young people in the ex-FATA territory tended to be opposed to the FCR’s previous system and the political agent’s autocratic authority. Therefore, they were generally in favour of the merging process in theory. They also objected to the community elders’ strong influence, which served as a bridge between political agents and the general population via the jirga system. The widening ideological divide between the tribal areas’ elders and young people has been made clear by the merger. The merger, according to numerous elders, young people, and government representatives, gave them the same constitutional rights as every other Pakistani citizen. Many young people expressed hope that they would soon be able to challenge the jirga’s rulings and go before higher courts to seek justice. They believed this would offer them a shot at a jury process and prompt, just choices. Additionally, they appeared relieved to be freed from the FCR’s severe collective and territorial duty. The merger and the creation of new government agencies promised a wide range of services and signalled the promise of increased development effort, improved law and order, a measure of peace and stability, and contemporary living accommodations. The former government was extremely oppressive, and the jirga was influenced by the wealthy and influential. They discussed the barriers women face, how they frequently go unheard, and how they aren’t even permitted to participate in decisions that affect their own lives. Another jirga resolution was antithetical to the prohibition of women’s movements. The jirga requested that the district’s employers hire exclusively locals of the area. How would tourist families from the rest of the country dare approach the district when there is such a severe restriction on women’s movement, which prevents them from visiting tourism or picnic areas even when accompanied by their husbands? Does anyone realise that tourism helps locals by providing jobs and income? How will their future be affected? However, most of the females expressed optimism about the forthcoming reforms; expressing the hope that they would address the harassment and restrictions that women experienced under the old system. However, some of the more senior citizens thought that the previous jirga system had guaranteed peace and swift justice dispensation, whereas the new system was slow and flawed. They appeared to be upset about losing the rights they had had as elders under the prior system as well. However, they continue to hold a lot of sway in the community, and nobody seems to be publicly opposed to them. The elders of the community do support the merger and restructuring process as long as they work with the district administration. However, a lot of individuals appeared to be tremendously unhappy because the merger and the anticipated improvements did not live up to their expectations. They complained about the massive delays in the judicial process, the surge in crime after the merger, and the sharp rises in drug abuse and corruption. Although officials were upset about the lack of funding for the newly created departments, others thought the merging process had not gone smoothly and that a proper agreement had not been reached before making this choice. In the newly-combined districts, the merger also highlighted the widening ideological divide and perception gap between the older and younger generations. The elderly’s concerns have been primarily about relinquishing the privilege and authority they previously held, whilst the youth seemed to lose their hopes from the merger due to unfulfilled promises and anaemic preperformance. The new system is not performing up to par with the pre-merger system. The causes include a lack of funding and staff training, poor departmental coordination, local conflicts, a lack of clarity on procedures, a delay in court rulings, destroyed infrastructure, the existence of extremist forces, and opposition from various facets of society. The administration falls short of the public’s expectations. As long as the security situation is unstable, popular resentment of the new system is on the rise. A serious lack of knowledge and confidence exists regarding official practices and the services provided by the recently constituted departments. The government must engage the people of these districts and adequately address their issues while providing guarantees of a progressive future in light of the ongoing dialogue with the Taliban and their insistence that the Fata merger is reversed. It is challenging to negotiate with extremists. No peace pact with them has lasted longer than a few months. Trying to do so with an overarching organisation, which includes several militant factions, is considerably more difficult, especially when some people don’t seem to care that the failure of discussions might result in further fighting. The writer is a PhD candidate.