Bad investment: Continued terrorism in Kurram, the real facts

Published in The Express Tribune : June 20, 2011
Thousands of Upper Kurram Agency tribes are besieged and Parachinar has been cut off from the rest of Pakistan. PHOTO: FILE/AFP 

Thousands have people have been killed in Kurram Agency in the past five years. Property worth billions of rupees has been destroyed and the education system has gone to dogs.

In 2007, when Taliban marched towards Kurram from North and South Waziristan, the tribal elders wrote a letter and faxed it to the president, the prime minister and security officers. In the letter they expressed their concern about the activities and demanded the government to take action against them and stop them from entering Kurram.

But in a strange twist, the photocopy of that letter reached the Taliban’ commander the next day, who sent Rs500 to each Shia-Sunni tribal leader, to buy shrouds for their coffins.

And so the Taliban erected check posts, opened training centres and started living in Lower and Central Kurram Agency. They were gearing to take Parachinar.

The elders approached the political administration with this fear on November 15, 2007, but were told that everything was under control. The very next day, after the Friday prayers, the Taliban attacked with hand grenades and rockets, killing many people of Turi-Bangash tribes.
The Thal-Parachinar Road was blocked, and continued to remain so for five years. Thousands of Upper Kurram Agency tribes are besieged and Parachinar has been cut off from the rest of Pakistan. The telephone lines seldom work, there are frequent power outages, development programs and supply of goods has stopped. The people here have been forced to purchase daily-use items imported from Afghanistan at a premium. People die for want of basic life-saving drugs.

But the little coverage that the region gets in the media is focused on sectarian disturbances, which cannot be further from the truth. The Shia and Sunni tribes in Parachinar are not at war. They have a common enemy, the Taliban.
A video shows the Taliban looting goods from trucks and coaches of Turi-Bangash tribes in the presence of Frontier Corps (FC) personnel. A body is lying on the ground while the FC personnel stand there doing nothing.

The Taliban have attacked convoys headed for Lower Kurram many times. Every time their target was to hit the Turi-Bangash tribes. The FC personnel or their conveyances were not harmed.

The road is re-opened
On February 3, 2011, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that they had reached a peace agreement in Kurram and that Thal-Parachinar Road will be opened by February 5. On February 8, members of Grand Tribal Jirga came to Parachinar by road. The road had been opened.

The tribes could not believe that they had been set from free. However, some reports in local and foreign media said that the road had been opened to facilitate the Haqqani Network to go to and come from Afghanistan (Kurram Agency has borders with three provinces of Afghanistan, Paktia, Nangrar and Khost).
Other reports said that the Taliban had some personal stakes in the deal and had just agreed to maintain peace for a month to test the waters. But the tribes insisted that they will not allow Taliban and terrorists to use the road.

A month later, the peace ended. Two children were kidnapped from Lower Kurram. Then people of Turi-Bangash tribes, travelling from Peshawar to Parachinar, were kidnapped along with drivers and coaches. The drivers were warned not to carry people belong from Turi-Bangash tribe.

On March 13, armed terrorists attacked a coach and killed 10 passengers, while three attackers were also killed when police retaliated. The attackers were identified to be from Mangal Tribe in Kurram, with one of them a former FC troop. The government did nothing.

Then on March 25, Taliban attached three coaches, killed three passengers and kidnapped 45 people from Turi-Bangash tribes. The kidnapped included women and children. The Taliban said they were retaliating against being cheated.

The government and Grand Tribal Jirga went to the negotiation table with the Taliban, who demanded a huge some of money and put forth a set of demands.

During negotiations, on April 21, the Taliban slaughtered and burned eight of the kidnapped passengers and sent the bodies to the tribes. They also released a video showing a kidnapped passenger being slaughtered and put on fire.

The tribal elders reiterated that they will not allow their land to be used by terrorists or other countries. This resulted in a retaliation from the Taliban and Haqqani Network. They have been attacking Sahlozan with missiles and mortars regularly.

The Taliban also attached Turi-Bangash tribe in Balash Khel village, killing four and injuring seven tribesmen. The tribes retaliated, killing 19 Taliban along with two of their commanders. Then a strange thing happened. The security forces reached Khar Kali and Balash Khel villages and bombarded the fortifications of Turi-Bangash tribes and picked up the bodies of the slain Taliban.

The tribes protested by holding a shutter-down strike in the entire city.
The elders say that this latest incident confirms that the Taliban are being supported by security forces, who are playing a double game and have warned the government of blocking their supply routes if they do not stop supporting the terrorists.

The writer is a journalist and works with Chinar News Agency
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2011.


Parachinar accord F.P. Report

Thursday,October 29, 2009, Dhil-Q'ada 09, 1430 A.H.

PARACHINAR: Tori and Bangash tribes have banished displaying of weapons, carrying of arms and wrong parking in their respective areas. This was announced in a joint meeting, held by the elders of both the tribes of Kurram Agency on Wednesday. They reiterated their unrelenting support and said the tribesmen would fight against the insurgents.

Tension after beheading of kidnapped passengers

Saturday,March 28, 2009, Rabi-ul-Awwal 30, 1430 A.H.

PARACHINAR: Thousands of tribals on Friday protested against the beheading of two kidnapped passengers of Turi and Bangash tribes by militants which has created tension in troubled kurram Agency. The mourners present in the funeral procession raised slogans against what they called as "state supported terrorism" against the Turi and Bangash tribes of Kurram Agency beside chanting slogans against the militants. According to details militants beheaded two persons named Javed Hussain and Ali Asghar belonging to Upper Kurram, two of the twelve passengers kidnapped on Feb 23 while travelling from Parachinar to Peshawar at Lower Kurram area near Chapari Check post. It is worth mentioning here that on the same day i.e. Feb 23 a school clerk Ashtar Hussain was also murdered on the spot who tried to resist the militants. After the murder of the school clerk for more than a month the main Parachinar-Peshawar Road remained blocked by the armed militants for the people of Turi and Bangash tribe, which has increased the miseries of common people creating shortage of daily use commodites, food stuff and life saving medicines. After the recovery of the two dead bodies the elders of Turi and Bangash tribes called thier emergency meeting and Tribal Jirga on Friday in which they accused the authorities of state terrorism against the innocent people of Upper Kurram. They said this was the 29th incident of kidnapping and beheading the passengers of Turi and Bangash tribe on main Parachinar-Peshawar Road in bright day light by violating the peace treaty and tribal Jirga ceasefire, but no action had been taken against militants. The elders said majority of these incidents took place a few metres away from the security forces checkposts especially Chapari check post, the last checkpost of Kurram Agency touching down districts. Elders of Turi and Bangash tribe also warned the government and the authorities concerned to punish the militants responsible for this inhuman incident, otherwise they will take revenge according to tribal traditions.

Two killed in Parachinar clashes Naseer Hussain

January 05 , 2008 Saturday 25 Zil Hajj 1428 A.

PARACHINAR: Three persons were killed five injured as mortar shells were firing from both the sides in the clashes on Friday. According to the sources fighting was going on in Balishkhel,Sada, Alizai, Terimangal and other areas of the agency. As many as 62 persons were killed and 183 injured in various incidents in Sadda, Balashkhel, Alizai, Sangeena, Abrahimzai and Khwar Gali during the period from December 24, 2007 to January 2, 2008 in Kurram Agency. The killed persons namely sye shujaat Hussain and Syed Munir Hussain who were killed in Pevaar, while the injured persons were rushed to the agency headquarter hospital. The sources also said that security forces were trying to control the situation but they seems to be failed in their struggle. The Jirga, which is currently in Sadda, has held talks with Sunni elders on terms and conditions of the Peace agreement on Thursday and significant progress has been made in this regard. The official hoped that the Jirga will succeed in its efforts and the peace agreement would finalised between rival groups for durable peace in Kurram Agency. APP adds: The peace jirga Friday succeeded in brokering ceasefire between the rival groups that ended the 11 days bloody skirmishes in Kurram Agency that claimed lives of 64 people and injuring 140, Zahirul Islam, Political Agent, Kurram Agency said Friday. "The eighteen members jirga comprised members of Sunni and Shia sects constituted by the NWFP Governor made a major breakthrough by holding ceasefire between the warring groups. Both the groups have started vacating trenches and scouts are being deployed to occupy it," Mr Islam told APP. He said that the clashes which were erupted on December 24, 2007 had killed 64 persons and about 140 sustained injuries. He was very optimistic that the truce would be durable and will bring lasting peace to the valley once considered a peaceful abode on earth. The agency's top administer when asked said that patrolling by the security forces on Thall-Parachinar Road has been increased to avoid any untoward mishaps. He said that soon the situation improved, Thall-Parachianr road would be opened for traffic. Asked about possible infiltration of unwanted elements from other areas to Kurram Agency, Mr Islam said that all roads and channels between Kurram Agency and rest of the areas have been blocked and will be opened until the desire goals of bringing peace to the agency was achieved. He said that both the groups have started vacating trenches in restive Sadda, Balishkhel, Alizai, Singeena, Ibrahimzai and Khwar kally badly damaged during the unrest. He said the situation in the Agency remained under control and there was no major fighting or clashes in the Agency in the last couple of days. The political administration and the law enforcing agencies have taken effective measures to secure protection to the lives and properties of common citizens. Security posts have been established in eight different places whereas forces have been deployed in different sensitive areas along the Thall Parachinar road, he added.

By Haji Naseer Hussain

12 killed in landmine blast

Friday, September 10, 2010, Ramadan 30, 1431 A.H

PARACHINAR (INP): At least 12 people were killed and six others injured when a vehicle hit a landmine in Wastikot area of Kurram Agency here on Thursday. According to local administration sources, a passengers van travelling to Parachinar city hit a landmine planted by unknown miscreants. “The mine caused a huge explosion. When we reached there, we saw most of passengers dead or severely injured,” an eyewitness told INP.

48 more dead in Kurram Agency clashes F.P. Report

Dated: 18-09-2010

PARACHINAR: The bloody clashes between Bangash and Mangal tribes continued on Friday and 48 people were killed and 61 others injured during the fresh clashes in Upper Kurram Agency. The armed supporters of both the tribes have burnt dozens of houses of each others in four villages in Shalozan, Tangi and Hewas and goods including furniture worth lakhs of rupees were put on fire. They are using heavy and light weaponry against each others' positions with intermittent intervals and inflected heavy losses to each other during the last 15 days clashes which had started over water distribution. Meanwhile, the Mangal tribes have claimed making hostage six tribesmen of Bangash tribes. The bullet-ridden bodies of eight tribesmen of Bangash were recovered from the conflict area and were shifted to Parachinar while 30 injured were admitted to agency's headquarter hospital. Dozens of houses were set on fire in the Upper Kabli, Sarang Aqil shah Kalli and Hawas areas on Friday. According to sources, at least 13 dead bodies including two commanders were sent to Paktika provice of Afghanistan. Tribal sources added that there are many dead bodies outside the trenches in the area and it is not possible to pick them up. Meanwhile, armed Taliban lashkar from Afghanistan attacked Kurram Agency murdering 30 Pakistani Turi and Bangash tribals on Thursday night. According to reports an armed lashkar of hundreds of Taliban militants attacked the Kurram Agency's village of Khevas (Shalozan) by helping the Afghan refugees Mangal tribe who forcefully occupied the mountains of Pewar and Shalozan villages. Thirty local Turi and Bangash tribals were murdered and 45 injured in this armed Taliban attack while 46 attackers mainly Taliban militants including seven foreign militants and 19 of Mangal tribals were killed and scores of others injured.

By Haji Naseer Hussain , Reporter of The Frontier Post , Pakistani Newspaper..
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