An article appearing in The Nation on September 7; “Extortionists Rule The Roost at Torkham Border” offers an inside view of the dangerous criminal activity going on for decades. The officials from FC the tribal chiefs and the Political Agent (PA) all are privy and a party to this very large illegal business. Out of all the 7 tribal agencies of FATA the Khyber Agency where Torkham is located is considered to be a gold mine for officials who get posted there. There are only two qualifications for a Political Agent, who is the head of the tribal agency’s administration, he has to pay a hefty sum to the appointing authority (Governor/President) or has very strong family links.

The most surprising aspect of the working of this Political Agent is that he does not stay in the area of his responsibility; the Khyber Agency, his office and residence both are located in the safe environment of settled areas, the cantonment of Peshawar. It is considered too risky for him to venture out of his ‘fort ‘like office cum residence at Peshawar to oversee work in the Agency. The tribal litigants, as the PA has tremendous judicial power, as well as others seeking his help have to make a long journey from the three sub-agencies, Bara, Landi Kotal, Tirah all the way to Peshawar. The Political Agent’s residence cum office, spread over prized 50 kanals of Peshawar cantonment land, it has been fortified with 20 feet high steel-strengthened double boundary. He also presents a high risk for the peaceful cantonment residents, due to the many tribal visitors.

Unless the Political Agent in Khyber Agency is posted purely on merit and the fort like residence is shifted within the area of responsibility that is Bara, Tirah or Landikotal, transporters and travelers will continue to be fleeced by the unsupervised officials manning check posts like Torkham.


Peshawar, September 7.