September 2009

Pak, Afghan officials hold flag meeting
Haji Naseer Hussain
PARACHINAR: Pakistan and Afghanistan on Tuesday agreed to jointly work against extremism during a flag meeting held at Paktia province of Afghanistan. The missing Havaldar of Frontier Constabulary Omer Ali and other issues also came under discussion in the meeting. The FC man has been missing since March 19, sources said. The meeting, held at Arira, discussed and reviewed the steps taken to maintain security. Meanwhile, a tribal delegation of Kurram Agency held talks with Afghan and NATO forces at Sher-e-Noe, border area of Afghanistan. The meeting reviewed law and order situation in the area and NATO assured that the people who attacked tribesmen in Afghan territory would be dealt severely.





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Daily Times


Daily Times –> Sunday, September 20, 2009

EDITORIAL: Foretold death in Kohat-Hangu

Sectarian violence has been brewing in the NWFP for a long time. Now it has delivered a savage blow to the security of the province. On the holy last Friday of Ramazan, a suicide vehicle destroyed an entire market on the Kohat-Hangu Road and killed 33 people. Needless to say, the shops were mostly Shia-owned and those who died were Shia too. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has added “al-Alami” to its name and owned the attack.

Pakistan lost the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to the Taliban as a result of its “strategic depth” doctrine during the 1990s. The NWFP lost its normally administered areas like Kohat, Hangu and Dera Ismail Khan to the Taliban spill-over from FATA. The sharp edge of conflict in these areas was provided by the sectarian organisation brought into existence by the state in 1985 in Jhang in Punjab: Sipah-e-Sahaba.

Despite the fact that the area contained an important cantonment and an air base, it was handed over to the sectarian terrorists on a platter. The state was willing to tolerate a level of anti-Shia violence if it didn’t bother the government. Centuries of coexistence between the Sunni and Shia communities was thus sacrificed. Onwards from Kohat-Hangu, the tribal agency of Kurram is lost to Pakistan in consequence of this policy of offering the Shia as sacrificial lambs to the Taliban.

Both Kohat and Hangu have mixed Shia-Sunni populations. Several villages that dot the Kohat-Hangu road are alternately Shia and Sunni. If a tension of power maintained the order of peace between the two in the past, it has now been broken by “outsiders”. The Hangu valley is literally watched over by the Orakzai Agency where the Shia-Sunni violence became endemic after the Taliban became strong there. The killers come from Orakzai where warlords have arisen to fame because they kill the Shia as far as Parachinar in Kurram.

Pakistan’s pride over ousting the Soviet Union from Afghanistan has to be qualified in the light of the price that was paid for it. In the 1980s, Afghan refugee camps were established on the main road from Kohat to Darra Adam Khel, close to new Kohat Town. There are two Afghan refugee camps on Darra Adam Khel Road, one on Hangu Road, and one in Sheikhan village and another on Rawalpindi Road. New madrassas were allowed to be built near these camps. Deobandi madrassas gained the upper hand; the old Barelvi madrassas languished inside in the city. The new madrassas continue to be dominated by students from FATA and Afghanistan.

Sectarian personalities like one well known lawyer arose to fame from Kohat. Known as the scourge of the Shia, the man openly declared war against them and Iran while the state watched. He was known as the “Al Qaeda lawyer” because he defended the Arab warriors in trials against them in Pakistan. He was one of the many violent patrons of the Lal Masjid in Islamabad and continues to be a strongman in the Kohat-Hangu area, reportedly guiding the administration.

The Shia festival of Nauruz of 21 March has been forcibly stopped. The Al Quds Day on the last Friday of Ramazan ordained for the Shia by Imam Khomeini — and observed as well by the Sunnis of the world — should have brought the two communities together but the extremists have not let that happen. And one big Lashkar-e-Jhangvi leader is reportedly about to be let off from a court in Multan because he is too powerful to be kept in the death cell.

If the NWFP has lost its entire territory lying on the road to Kurram, the federal government has lost the territory of Kurram to the blood-thirsty Taliban led by warlords Hakimullah Mehsud, Qari Hussain and their lower-echelon commanders. The Shias of Parachinar returning to Kurram can no longer reach their home through Pakistan. They have to land in Afghanistan and then make their way home through high passes. The new practice is that the Taliban catch them on the border in Paktia and behead them.

The battle against the Taliban is clearly laid out; the battle against sectarian terror is less coherent. Populations have already retreated into ghettos in Quetta, Dera Ismail Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Bhakkar (Punjab), Gilgit, Kohat-Hangu, and Parachinar, and are waiting for the state of Pakistan to rise from its “writ-less” slumber to come to their rescue. When will that happen? *




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 Kidnapped tribal elder’s son found dead
Thursday, September 17, 2009
By Our correspondent
PARACHINAR: A tribal elder’s son, who had been kidnapped by militants for his alleged involvement in the killing of three men of Baitullah Mahsud group, was found dead and his body was dumped in Khapyanga area of Kurram Lower.

Unidentified armed men had killed three associates of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) slain chief Baitullah Mahsud in Bagan area recently.Tribal sources said that militants then kidnapped Khan Zaman, the son of prominent tribal elder Bahadur Khan, from Bagan area in retaliation.

The militants later killed Khan Zaman and threw his body in Khapyanga area, the sources added. Meanwhile, the elders of Kurram Lower called a jirga to discuss the situation and devise a strategy against the insurgency and violence in the area.




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Militants kill 7 Shias in Parachinar

Thu, 17 Sep 2009 04:30:46 GMT

Taliban-linked militants have killed at least seven Shia tribesmen near the Afghan border as they were heading to the Kurram agency in the northwestern Pakistan.

The victims were returning home from vacation in the United Arab Emirates when they were stopped near Afghanistan’s Paktia province on the border with Pakistan, a Pakistani official told Press TV correspondent on condition of anonymity.

Militants looted and then shot dead the Shia Muslims from Tori tribe, who were bound for Kurram’s Parachinar district via Afghanistan, he added.

The incident comes a day after Afghanistan shut down a key route to the populated Kurram tribal region, which has raised concerns of a ‘dire humanitarian crisis’ in the Taliban-dominated mountainous area.

The residents of the Parachinar, upper and lower Kurram agency used to travel for provincial capital Peshawar through Afghan province Paktia and Kandahar since November 2007, when pro-Taliban Wahhabi militants cut off the areas from the rest of the country, imposing a crippling blockade on the Shia communities in the region.

Pakistan’s pro-Taliban insurgents retain control of the tribal zone on the Afghan-Pakistani border, where they are preparing to launch fresh attacks against the foreign forces fighting the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

The militants have also engaged in a massacre of the Shia community in Parachinar, Hangu district and much of Kurram agency, killing dozens on an almost daily basis over the past few months.

Local sources say more than 2,000 Shia Muslims have been killed in the region since the extremists launched a bloody war against them in 2007.

Many within the Shia community accuse certain Arab countries of funding Wahhabi terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and the pro-Taliban elements, and of even going as far as providing them with heavy weaponry.




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Three Pakistanis killed in Afghanistan

Dawn Correspondent
Thursday, 17 Sep, 2009

Ramazan 26, 1430

According to sources the three Pakistanis were going from Kabul to Parachinar with their Afghan driver when their vehicle was stopped in Mirzaka near Gardez. The four men were sprayed with bullets and their bodies were thrown on the highway. –Photo by AP

PARACHINAR: Bodies of three Pakistanis killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday were handed over to Pakistani authorities at the Borki border checkpost on Wednesday morning.

According to sources, Mohammad Hussain, Mumtaz Ali and Tajir Hussain were going from Kabul to Parachinar with their Afghan driver when their vehicle was stopped in Mirzaka near Gardez, the capital of Afghanistan’s Paktia province, by unidentified gunmen.  The four men were sprayed with bullets and their bodies were thrown on the highway.

The three Pakistanis, hailing from Kurram and belonging to the Turi tribe, had come from Dubai and landed in Kabul instead of Peshawar because of the closure of main highway to Parachinar.

The main road linking Kurram region to the rest of the country has been closed since November 2007 because of clashes between rival groups. The people of the besieged area have to travel from Peshawar via Kabul and Jalalabad to reach their hometowns.

The murder of the three men sparked tension in their area and a protest procession was taken out in Parachinar, the regional headquarters. Tribal elders have called upon the government to open the road and provide security to passengers.

Seven Turi tribesmen have been killed inside Afghanistan during the past one week.




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 Govt confident of dealing with Kurram situation
Thursday, September 17, 2009
By By our correspondent
ISLAMABAD: The government is confident of dealing with the grim situation in the Kurram Agency, caused by militants mostly from Afghanistan, within the next 3-4 weeks, which has held around 0.5 million people virtually hostage for nearly three years.

As a prelude to decisively deal with the security and humanitarian challenge, the government has taken some measures that include the appointment of a new political agent, Basir Khan Wazir, and an agreement with a private airline to launch a flight between Parachinar and other parts of the country.

“Yes, there is no doubt that the people of Upper Kurram, particularly Parachinar and its adjoining areas, have suffered a lot,” conceded Interior Minister Rehman Malik, when asked for comments on the matter and the government’s inability to address the issue so far.

He said it was time to defuse the alarming situation in Upper Kurram, for which the government was currently devising a line of action. The minister said an agreement with a private airline had been signed for a period of six months, as PIA planes could not be operated because of the narrow airstrip at Parachinar.

Similarly, he pointed out that the government was also starting a helicopter service to transport the people to and from Parachinar and adjoining localities. Rehman Malik added a Jirga of the Turi and Bangash tribes would also be convened shortly, as the two sides were being persuaded to end confrontation and they were also willing for the return of lasting peace to the area.

He noted that militants had also exploited the situation and were the main hurdle in the free movement of the people, adding that the law-enforcement agencies personnel also faced attacks from terrorists, who did not allow anyone the use of Parachinar-Peshawar Road.

In this connection, he referred to the last year’s attack on a convoy of six or seven trucks transporting food and other essential items to Upper Kurram. “Our first priority is to make the main road safe for the common man,” he noted.

A legislator from Parachinar, Sajid Hussain Turi, said those who move out of the area had to take a route of Peshawar via Afghanistan and several of them had fallen prey to the Taliban there with their throats slit.

In three days, five people were brutally killed in Afghanistan while trying to re-enter Pakistan. Two brothers lost their lives three days back, whereas three Turi tribesmen were massacred when they were heading for Parachinar from the Afghan border, he noted.

Turi said foreign hand was involved in the gory acts of violence in the agency. He denied a perception that sectarian strife had gripped the local population. He added that security forces should be deployed adequately at the Pak-Afghan border to bar the militants from the other side.

Ali Hussain, who is an Islamabad-based journalist, hailing from Parachinar, told this correspondent that in the last seven days, 10 Turi tribesman had lost their lives in Afghanistan. He said two brothers were killed in the neighbouring country on Tuesday and their mother also expired on hearing the tragic news while their sister was hospitalised after she fell unconscious.

Ali Hussain, who remains in touch with his parents and relatives, last time visited his home in Parachinar a year ago via Afghanistan, going from Torkham to Jalalabad, then to Kabul, Logar, Gardez and to Paktia before reaching the Kurram Agency.

He said that he wanted to celebrate Eidul Fitr with his family but after hearing the tragic news, he would not make an attempt this time to reach his village Borki, situated on the Pak-Afghan border via Afghanistan.

After the closure of the Peshawar-Parachinar Road some three years back, the inhabitants of the agency have been facing great hardships due to shortage of food items and medicines.

MNA Munir Orakzai, who has been involved in peace efforts, when contacted, sounded optimistic about the normalisation of the situation in Upper Kurram shortly. He said the recent appointment of Basir Khan as political agent of the Kurram Agency would greatly help achieve the objective.




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Three more Pakistanis killed in Afghan border areas

PARACHINAR: Some unknown armed men killed three more Pakistanis on Wednesday in Afghan border areas, raising the number of Pakistanis killed by armed men during the last one week to seven.

The tribal elders are using difficult and dangerous routes for coming to Peshawar for the last three years due to the occupation of Kurram Agency-Peshawar by militants.

According to sources, three Pakistanis belonging to Kurram Agency were killed in Mirzaki, border region of Afghanistan Paktika province at a time when they were coming to Kurram Agency through Afghanistan.

Those killed were identified as Mohammad Hussain, brother of PPP leader Hamid Turi, businessman Hussain and Mumtaz Ali.

Sources said with the killing of these three persons, the number of Pakistanis killed during the last one week has reached to seven.

It may be mentioned here that militants have controlled the Peshawar-Parachinar main highway and other transportation routes due to which the residents were using difficult and dangerous routes of Afghanistan for transportation.

Addressing a hurriedly press conference, elders of Turi and Bangash tribesmen, including Ali Akbar Turi, Sardar Khan Bangash and others said occupation of highways by militants for the last three years was a big tragedy due to which situation is worsening.

They warned that if steps were not taken for stopping killings, opening of roads and for peace, then the tribesmen would have no option but to take extreme steps.

They demanded of the government to take stern action against militants and open the highways, which could avoid further killings of Pakistanis in Afghanistan.



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