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Frontier Crimes Regulation: a past that never ends

Frontier Crimes Regulation: a past that never ends

Da Sanga Azadi Da — "What freedom is this?" — is the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) anthem heard at their gatherings and jalsas.

PTM’s figurehead, Manzoor Pashteen, asked that question in Karachi — the world's largest Pashtun city by population — on Sunday, May 13, as the PTM headed over to Pakistan’s main metropolis.

Karachi, after all, is where a young Pashtun from Waziristan, Naqeebullah Masood, was killed in an extrajudicial encounter by the police on suspicion of terrorism on January 13, which provided impetus for PTM’s rallies and demands for fair treatment from the state.

But if we are to trace the origins of some of the grievances of the Pashtuns of Pakistan's tribal areas, we will have to go all the way back to 1893 — to the year when the Durand Line was set in stone as a border separating British India from Afghanistan.

The creation of this border-province begins the story of the continued maltreatment of the Pashtuns inhabiting these areas.

Characterised by the Raj as ill-defined and turbulent, these regions compromised the defence of the borders of British India. They did not border a recognised foreign power; rather, they separated the Raj’s dominion from the 'wild', 'lawless, 'unsettled' and 'warlike' tribes living in the hills that stretched into Afghan lands.

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