Saba Gul Khattak

This paper looks at the fallout of politically motivated governance arrangements that result in the creation of de facto valleys of death where justice is the first casualty. Specifically, it looks at the thirty-five year old protracted and active conflict that has engulfed Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Pakistan Afghanistan border. While Fata is the eye of the storm, the conflict is also present in the neighbouring provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, and in Afghanistan. The research highlights the problematic nature of justice in terms of its relativity: First, the compensation regime exonerates the state of its responsibility and simultaneously ensures its’ impunity. Second, this regime also validates inequality among citizens. In the process of demonstrating these issues of injustice, this paper analyzes how violence is contained in geographically demarcated areas through legal and administrative boundaries. These boundaries are strengthened and reinforced on the basis of social and cultural imaginings about that area/zone. Together these create a narrative that normalizes injustice as a given in the specific context of Fata.

Dr Saba Gul Khattak,  is a member of the Planning Commission of Pakistan. She was the executive director at Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) for many years. She received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Hawaii in 1991. She worked as a research fellow at the East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii in 1992-93, and also taught international relations at the University of Peshawar and political science at the University of Hawaii. She is associated with several organizations, being a member of the Women’s Action Forum (WAF), governing bodies of several NGOs, editorial board of Theoretical Perspectives Curriculum Committees of two women’s studies centers. Dr. Khattak specializes in comparative politics and her research interests revolve around the political economy of development, feminist and political theory with special emphasis on state theory. She has provided regular input to the government on women’s issues and co-authored a chapter: “Effects on Women of National and International Armed or Other Kinds of Conflict” the Pakistan National Report for the Beijing Conference on Women. Dr. Khattak writes on gender issues, public policies, governance, militarization, refugee women and refugee politics. She contributes to journals and books and presents papers at conferences. Her papers include “The Effects of Nuclearization on Pakistani Women,” Development; “Gendered and Violent: Inscribing the Military on the Nation-State,” Engendering the Nation-State; “Linkage Between Internal and External Dynamics of South Asian Security,” Internal and External Dynamics of South Asian Security; “Security Discourses and the State in Pakistan,” Alternatives; “Militarization, Masculinity and Identity in Pakistan—Effects on Women,” Unveiling the Issues; “A Reinterpretation of the State and Statist Discourse in Pakistan,” Locating the Self, Perspectives on Women.


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