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Worsening Situation In North Waziristan

Shamim Shahid

The situation in the already terror-hit North Waziristan adjacent with south-eastern provinces of Afghanistan is worsening day by day due to prolong curfew imposition and restricting dwellers to home on security grounds. Though since 2017 last, tribesmen repatriated from Bannu and other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ahead with military forces instructions and restrictions but new type of miseries commenced with indigenous emergence of Pashtoon Tahafuz Movement (PTM) in last January. Compared to other parts and parcels of the region, North Waziristan became notorious for sheltering militants from all over the world for over one decade. In the wake of resistance/opposition, the al-Qaeda fugitives and their likeminded militants from all over the slipped in from Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11, shifted from South to North Waziristan in 2004-2005. Through one or the other ways, these militants have established roots and influence in all over North Waziristan. And the host—Shura I Mujahideen North Waziristan headed by Hafiz Gul Bahadar considered one of GOOD Taliban was not made only an ally of Mullah Nazeer of South Waziristan, Maulvi Faqir Muhammad of Bajaur and Mullah Fazal Ullah of Swat but all of them have been declared as partners of Taliban-later formally declared as Tehrik Taliban Pakistan in end of 2007 with Mullah Bait Ullah as its head. Whatever might be justification of government, government organs included armed forced but later on tribesmen from North Waziristan confessed they were made “forced hosts” of these militants. Soon after 9/11 tragedy through a mysterious ways target killing of leading and influential elders from all over former tribal belt (now merged in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) started through a mysterious ways. Almost those who were in real term opposing militancy, terror and favoring cordial relations with Afghanistan have been targeted. Most of target killing acts occurred in North and South Waziristan, but leading figures from rest of tribal belt and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa didn’t spared. Except a few, all of political parties and religious circles were also affected in target killing acts. Nationalist Awwami National Party, known for its links with Kabul, beliefs in democracy, rule of law and supremacy of parliament was badly affected. Though Pakistan had dealt situation of North Waziristan with some other motives but it went out of its control when the militants went on revolt against Islamabad. These militants have out rightly refused to obey and even they declared a war visibly. But internally they helped a lot Islamabad in materializing the dream-even didn’t by former British colonial rulers-demarcating and fencing of Durand Line– a controversial border between former British India and Afghanistan, through Durand Line Accord on November 12, 1893. In June 2014, Pakistan announced embarking on military action Zarb-i-Azab against the militants in North Waziristan. Over two million tribesmen have been asked to abandon homes. And during this period tall claims made regarding clearing of the area, flushing away of militants, arrests of over three thousands and killing of around two thousands others. But in fact, majority of notorious and hardcore militant commanders are still alive. Like of 2004-2013, almost leading Al Qaeda, TTP, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and other foreign militant groups commanders and fighters targeted by US drone despite scores of militant actions and reaction by Pakistan armed forces.

In June 2015, exact one year after commencing of military action Zarb-i-Azab clashes occurred between displaced tribesmen and security forces personnel in Baran camp near Bannu (tent village for displaced tribesmen). A number of tribesmen were killed and several others injured. As a result displaced tribesmen demanded immediate repatriation. With starting of repatriation, armed forces announced complete ban on possession and exhibition of arms and declared its own code for living in scattered areas of North Waziristan. All are bound to keep around the clock liaison with security personnel. Everyone is bound to get permission while visiting adjacent Bannu or any other place within the country. And even they were made bound to inform in prior location and destinations of their visits. The repatriation process is yet to be completed as still over 15,000 families including 3,000 across the border in Khost Province of Afghanistan are awaiting. But along with the repatriation process and what the official call restoration of writ of state, target killing in scattered areas of North Waziristan started in end of 2017 but it flashed headlines in media somewhere in May 2018 last when PTM leader Mohsin Dawar announced a peaceful sit in at Mirali, which later on forcibly dispersed by personnel of security forces.

Since January 2018, situation in both North and South Waziristan remain too much critical. Besides the target killing, good Taliban have made attacks against Ali Wazir and his family properties at Wana. Good Taliban have shot dead PTM activists in Dera Ismael Khan. And on May 26th 2019 deadly clash occurred in Khar Kamar Tehsil Data Khel North Waziristan. As a result around 15 killed and over 30 other injured. Both the MNA’s Ali Wazir from South and Mohsin Dawar from North have been charged for attacking the security forces and in retaliation they along with others booked under Anti-Terrorist laws. Now a legal battle is going on between government and PTM stalwarts. But civilians are suffering ultimately in the tussles between government and PTM. Since May 26th curfew exists in all over Tehsil Data Khel whereas exists worst kind of uncertain situation in rest of North Waziristan. Ali Wazir, Mohsin and several other PTM stalwarts are locked in Peshawar Jail. PTM activists from time to time are staging protests. Despite unanimous demands of all opposition parties, Speaker of the National Assembly had refused to issue production order in favor of both PTM MNA’s. Oppositions parties are unhappy with North Waziristan, where now exists worst kind of acute shortage of edible items including drinking water. Thousands of families live like hostages inside homes. All sort of business and economic activities are on halt. A large number of tribal families slipped into adjacent districts of Khost Afghanistan. Tribal elders are praying for lifting of curfew and offering mediation but getting no any response. Whatever might be claims and justification on the part of government but at the moment almost of former Federally Administrative Tribal Areas (FATA) have been converted into a military state. There exists Martial Law like situation in all these seven tribal agencies and six Frontier regions. The civil administrators considered legacy of previous British rulers civil bureaucracy look like silent spectator. Mohsin Dawar, other PTM stalwarts and PTM individual supporters from all over the world now pleading rest of the civilized world especially UN to realize its responsibilities regarding “tribesmen of North Waziristan” who are being treated as Prisoners of Wars (POW’s) at this crucial stage. Is anyone is aware of hostile but even step-mother attitude towards tribesmen results. Compare to past situation is now different for the country and its organs, especially civil-military. It is not solution to push the tribesmen towards wall and declare blackout for media, otherwise its results might not be different from what experienced in former East Pakistan.

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