Pakistan Lifts Longtime Ban on Political Activities in Restive Tribal Areas

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President Asif Ali Zardari announced Friday that he was lifting a longtime ban on political activities in the restive tribal regions in the northwest, hoping to reduce the influence of the Taliban and Islamic militancy in the areas.

The seven semiautonomous tribal regions have never been fully incorporated into the country’s legal and political system. They are instead still governed by a set of 100-year-old rules, known as Frontier Crimes Regulations, dating from the British empire.

Rights groups have long denounced the rules as draconian and Pakistan’s political parties have urged the government to do away with them, calling them a dark legacy of British colonial rule.

“Today, I am announcing the permission of political activities in the F.A.T.A. to bring them into the main political stream,” Mr. Zardari said in a live broadcast, referring to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, as the region is formally known.

Mr. Zardari chose a symbolic moment to make the announcement: the eve of the national holiday marking Pakistan’s 62nd year of independence from the British Empire...

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