June 2010


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Tribal disputes in Kurram

In an unusual move in May 2010 the Commandant of the Kurram Scouts convened a tribal jirga of both Sunni and Shia tribal leaders to repatriate displaced families to their native areas and to implement the Murree agreement signed in November 2008. The agreement asks for armed tribal groups to vacate their positions, the repatriation of IDPs and supply of food and medicine to the affected areas. The government has failed to implement the agreement and people of Kurram continue to suffer in violence.

Now, the commandant has initiated a move to make peace in the area. But tribal leaders have serious reservations over the move. The commandant never consulted the political agent of the agency and he has no legal authority to convene such a jirga although he insists he has been ‘given’ authority to do so. He invited controversial non-locals to the jirga, such as Javed Ibrahim Paracha who is not from Fata but from Kohat and is known to harbour sectarian views and is considered close to militants. The Shia tribesmen hold him responsible for the sufferings in the area and accuse him of sheltering al Qaeda elements. The Sunnis consider him an intruder who poisons their relationship with their Shia compatriots for his
vested interests.

The commandant offered that 200 Sunni IDP families from Parachinar be accommodated in the Akhtar Academy building. Sunni tribal leaders asked the commandant to accommodate them in an area in Parachinar since the city was said to be under the federal government’s writ. The commandant disagreed and threatened to take requisite action against those tribal leaders who would not comply. The Sunni tribal leaders said that it was in the presence of the former commandant that many of their people were killed and the rest displaced from their homes, so it was hard for them to trust the current one. They also felt that the commandant was putting them in an awkward situation. Once back in Parachinar they would be vulnerable to heavily armed sectarian groups. This would provide an excuse to the military to start operations in Parachinar. The commandant had offered a plan to rehabilitate the Turi Bangash in Sadda Town in Kurram on their properties — the Turi were pushed out of their properties because of sectarian fighting way back in the 1980s. The commandant had tried to construct gates on roads leading to villages. The local Shia tribesmen demonstrated against the construction and under public pressure the commandant abandoned the plan.

The crisis in Kurram and the rest of Fata is beyond the capacity of the local commandants and political agents. Everything they do simply adds to the sufferings. The president of Pakistan should implement the Political Parties Act in the area so that disputes can be resolved through local political leadership. Intelligence agencies must stop using the area as a strategic space for its ‘great games’.

Published in the Express Tribune, June 6th, 2010.

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Ending Kurram’s sectarian strife

Kurram Agency was part of Afghanistan until the signing of the Gandamak Treaty on May 26, 1879. As per clause nine of this treaty, the districts of Kurram, Pishin and Sibi, were placed under the protection and administrative control of the British government, but were not permanently severed from the limits of the Afghan kingdom. The revenues of these districts, after deducting the charges of civil administration, were remitted to Afghanistan. In 1893, the Durand line Treaty was signed and Kurram became a part of British India. Kurram’s area is 3,380 sq km and population is around 500,000. The main tribes are Turi, Bangash, Mangal and Parachamkani while Orakzai, Massozai, Alisherzai, Zaimusht, Kharotai, Ghalgi, Zadran,Muqbal and Hazara also live there. Kurram is divided into three sub-divisions: upper, lower and central. The first two are administered through the Frontier Crime Regulation, the Kohat Pact and customary law known as ‘Turizuna’, while central Kurram is administrated indirectly through tribal elders. Kurram and Orakzai are the two areas of Fata where Shia-Sunni strife causes major law and order issues. The sectarian conflict and inter-tribal rivalry are intertwined and a dispute over, say, water between two villages, can spread to the entire area.

In 1982, sectarian violence started in Sadda in lower Kurram. Sixty-eight Shia families were forced to abandon their homes and had to take refuge in Parachinar. The matter was resolved through a jirga in 1990, but the decision has still not been implemented. In April and November 2007, the worst sectarian fighting in Kurram’s history took place. The Taliban had infiltrated the Sunni area and raised a local Taliban force. Their commander was under Baitullah Mehsud’s direct control. Forty villages were destroyed, and about 2,060 houses were set ablaze. More than 2,300 families were displaced and 95 places of worship were attacked. Land mines were planted in the fields. Snipers from both sects continuously fired on their opponent’s villages. The Thall-Parichinar road was closed for Shias, who in retaliation prevented the Sunnis of upper Kurram from travelling on the Parachinar road. The political administration took some steps that defused the situation, but was not a permanent solution. In October 2008, an accord was signed in Murree.The elders and tribal chiefs of the two rivals — the Turi and Mangal tribes — signed a written agreement in the presence of the members of parliament from the Agency for a permanent peace. However, this accord has yet to be implemented. Clearly, this needs to be done.

Adequate force should be placed at the disposal of the political administration. Legislators from the agency should be involved and jirgas should be held to implement the Murree Agreement. The Frontier Corps, Frontier Constabulary and police should be deployed to block routes from North Waziristan, and in Tor Ghar Mamoo up to Hugu, so that the Hangu-Thall-Parachinar road can be made safe for travel. Rehabilitation of IDPs should also be made in phases. As a first step, elders of both sects should engage to settle the displaced Sunnis and Shias of lower Kurram. The decision of resettlement of Shias, displaced from Sadda in 1982, must be implemented through a jirga. Compensation should be paid to all whose property was destroyed during the conflict. Also, properties confiscated during the fighting, should be returned to the real owners through the jirga, comprising of elders from both sects. The crisis in Kurram is not a normal law and order situation. It needs special handling and a focused strategy.


Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2010.

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Kohat varsity fails to provide roll number slips
Several Kurram students miss paper

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

PARACHINAR: Several students of the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BSc) from Kurram Agency could not appear in the fist paper on Tuesday as the Kohat University failed to provide them roll number slips in time, sources said.

The sources said BA and BSc examinations got underway and first paper – Islamiyat (compulsory) — was scheduled for Tuesday but several students were not allowed to enter the examination hall because they did not have the roll number slips.

The students made pleas to the examination staff that it was not their fault but to no avail.The affected students later staged a protest to voice their resentment at the negligence on the part of the Kohat University staff and demanded action by the higher authorities.

Some of the students, Abdullah, Javed and Mohammad Ghulam who missed the paper, told The News that the Kohat University was meting step motherly treatment to the students from Kurram Agency.

The aggrieved students demanded of the university authorities to provide them roll number slips so that they could appear in the remaining papers. They also requested the governor and other relevant authorities to take action against the erring staff of the examination department of the university whose irresponsible action caused them academic loss.

source: http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=246647

 

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Samaa TVWednesday, 16 June, 2010 
Bangash, Mangal tribes hold successful talks
Staff Report

KURRAM AGENCY: The supply of electricity and water was restored in Shalozan and Tangi villages of Kurram Agency after successful talks between Mangal and Bangash tribes.

The two villages were deprived of electricity and water following the deadly clashes between above rival tribesmen, in which dozens of people were killed and several others were wounded. 

According to Political Agent Nasir Khan, Mangal and Bangash tribes had extended full cooperation with the jirga members. As a result, the longstanding issue of water and electricity restoration was amicably resolved. SAMAA 

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>Parachinar air service


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Kundi lauds Gliding Club’s role in promoting adventure sports


ISLAMABAD, June 14 (APP): Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Faisal Karim Kundi on Monday praised Hawk Gliding Club’s for working to  promote adventure sports in the country  and said this had greatly helped  raise image of the country  .          

Speaking at a ceremony organized by the Hawk Gliding Club here at a local hotel, he said Club’s efforts would  boost sports industry in Pakistan.
“When I look at the achievements of the club, it gives me immense pleasure that these are truly in line with its objectives.  Therefore, to celebrate its journey is of immense importance,” he said.
He said that the Club had recently introduced adventure Air Sports in Kenya  which besides  strengthening  Pakistan’s ties with that country  would also help present Pakistan’s high-level of commitment at the international level.
He said that the  record of the Club showed that it had always volunteered its services in the time of need. “In the year 2005, the Club used its para-motors to help earthquake victims. Then again it offered its services for the people of Parachinar by importing an Aircraft to carry passengers from Peshawar to Parachinar and for the evacuation of medical emergencies from Parachinar to nearby areas,” he said. 
He said that being the youngest Deputy Speaker and Patron of Young Parliamentarians Forum, he had always motivated young people and if they  become part of the Hawk Gliding Club it would  enhance their  skills.
“The Club’s efforts to produce some successful TV serials generated a lot of interest and enthusiasm in the youth for adventure sports. Besides,  training  officers from Pakistan Army, Navy and Air Force, the club has shown hardcore professionalism.” he added.
The Hawk Gliding Club has also trained 5000 males and females in adventure sports in Pakistan.
Kundi said the task which the Club had taken for promoting adventure sports in the country along with gearing the potential of the people was indeed highly appreciable. This effort should  be accelerated because “we want such  Clubs in Pakistan,” he added.

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Seven militants die in Kurram IED blast
Sunday, June 13, 2010
By our correspondent

PARACHINAR: Seven militants were killed in an explosion caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Chapri Kandao area in central part of Kurram tribal region on Saturday.

Official sources said a double-cabin pickup carrying seven militants was on its way to Chapri Kandao from Tharitang when it hit the IED in Chapri Kandao.

Pleading anonymity, an official said the militants had come to Kurram Agency from Orakzai tribal region. They said it was not clear as to who had planted the explosive device to target the militants.

It was for the first time that a vehicle carrying Taliban had been targetted in such an attack.

Officials said it could be an act of a rival faction of militants due to differences among the Taliban fighters over certain issues.

Meanwhile, the authorities arrested four militants and held their car near Teendo, Sadda subdivision and recovered arms from their possession. According to officials, three militants belonged to central part of Kurram Agency while one hailed from nearby Orakzai Agency.

 
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