Friday, September 26, 2008

Kurram Tribes Come Together for a Peace Talk

Light at the end of the tunnel? I hope it is. (See the news report below.)

The government of course has a huge role in making the peace process work, in how its security forces fulfill their duties against the criminal elements, especially against those coming from outside of the Kurram agency. The opening and safety of the main Tal-Parachinar route would be the litmus test of its performance.

The role of the tribal elders is another important factor. Unfortunately, in the past, those among the tribal elders who could have ensured peace in the area were systematically targeted by the criminal elements. At least 300 tribal elders have been killed in different areas of the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies (FATA) in these years. The elimination of this layer of leadership is one of the key reasons why there are insurgent militias ruling over FATA these days.

Some of these militias are Taliban-inspired, others are not and may in some cases be against the Taliban. Often they are locally based. But sometimes they also have foreign connections and membership too. In some cases, the local people have supported these insurgent militias against the tyranny of local leaders, state officials, and 'maliks', or against their rival tribes. More recently the American and Pakistani military incursions and the resulting loss of lives, property, and honor have also expanded the membership and support of these militias.

Some strands of these insurgent militias also had support of the state's security apparatus in the past, particularly during the Afghan War era. Some claim that they still do.

Kurram tribes ready to burry the hatchet
By Inamullah Khattak

RAWALPINDI, Sept 25: A tribal peace jirga which met in the capital on Thursday agreed to end sectarian violence in the restive Kurram Agency and vowed to fight the ‘hidden hands’ fuelling violence in the region. [Daily Times reports that the jirga was held in Peshawar (?)]

The 100-member peace jirga comprised 50 members each from the Turi and Mengal tribes, including parliamentarians belonging to both groups—MNAs Munir Khan Orakzai and Sujid Hussian Turi and Senator Rasheed Khan—former Senator Sajjad Syed and Kurram’s Political Agent Azam Khan and Lower Kurram Assistant Political Agent Ayyaz Khan Mandokhel.

The jirga agreed to continue the process of negotiations till peace was restored in the agency.

Violence in Parachinar erupted on April 6 last year and so far over 2,000 people have been killed and hundreds of people have been displaced.

“Today both the groups agreed that there was no Sunni-Shia tension in Kurram Agency, rather a third hand is involved in pitting the two tribes against each other. But we will foil all conspiracies against our tribal people,” Malik Sardar Ahmed Bangash, a jirga member told Dawn.

He said that both the groups resolved to assist the government in eliminating terrorist elements from the agency.

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