The insurgents’ and Al Qaeda’s safe havens are believed to be concentrated in an area called the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, which is made up of seven semi-autonomous agencies along Pakistan’s northwestern border with Afghanistan.
Thanks to the persisting governing arrangement, FATA residents do not have a political voice in Pakistan’s government and are forbidden to form political parties. They also do not receive the government services, or enjoy the civil rights or rule of law that other Pakistani citizens are granted.Local militants have established Taliban-controlled police and courts that mete out harsh punishments.
Few economic opportunities exist in this region, there is no banking system, and approximately 60 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line. The female literacy is 3 percent in this area, among the lowest in the world. People’s livelihoods depend on subsistence agriculture and smuggling items such as opium and weapons.
The region’s economic and political isolation has contributed to the extremism and militancy of this area. The Taliban, other Afghan insurgents, Al Qaeda, and other foreign extremists—mainly Chechens and Uzbeks—have found a friendly territory to establish and maintain a safe haven following their flight from Afghanistan in 2001.
For more information on the Center for American Progress’ comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan, which includes a chapter on recommendations for Pakistan, see: