by Sailab Mehsud
IT has not gone unnoticed that ever since Operation Zarb-i-Azb was launched, details emerging about the operation are completely one-sided. Few details are appearing from the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and those trapped in the area. The ISPR has been constantly issuing press releases making various claims, such as killing scores of militants, on a daily basis. But my clandestine trips to Mirali and Miramshah and the ordinary people that I met in Bannu show a different picture.
I met 65-year-old Zahir Shah from Miramshah in Bannu who was with his family in a truck. He had one of the most heart-rending stories to narrate about his difficult journey. “It feels like the Day of Judgment. I may seem alive to you but inside I am dead. No warnings were given about the impending operation. The bomb attacks started suddenly and I had to leave two of my sick children behind. I handed them over to Shawwal Scouts belonging to the Afridi tribe requesting them to bury my children should they die.”
Shah’s version appears to have some basis because some local journalists and I had managed to slip into Dattakhel, a village west of Miramshah in North Waziristan Agency, and were present on June 15 when a curfew was imposed unexpectedly and the operation was launched without a proper announcement. The aman jirga and the tribal maliks had been meeting officials for nearly a month to delay the operation. However, this did not happen.
According to Shah and other IDPs, Miramshah Bazaar, a source of livelihood for many, has been completely destroyed. “Air strikes have killed many civilians including women and children and hardly any terrorists. Ordinary civilians have also been shot at sight,” claimed Shah. Though Shah said this with authority, his claim — like those of the military — cannot be independently verified.
I was in Mirali nearly 20 days ago. There I saw a house reduced to rubble and I could smell decomposing human flesh. A bystander claimed that the house was bombarded at 1:30am in which 24 members of a family were killed. A girl of about seven to eight years of age survived. Noor Behram, a journalist friend, also undertook an arduous 26-hour journey from Miramshah to Bannu with his family when the operation began unannounced. “There was no way to get out. Roads were closed. We walked all the way to the Sadgai checkpoint on the Bannu-Miramshah Road. My wife and children traversed hidden paths; climbed mountainous tracks all day and night to somehow reach the checkpoint, which is a mere 25-minute drive by car from Miramshah. But it took us 26 hours to reach the checkpoint.”
Behram also spoke about the ordeal he and the other IDPs have faced at the hands of security forces during registration. First is the seemingly never-ending wait with thousands of men, women, children, senior citizens and invalids waiting for their turn. Then, everyone goes through a body search, their CNICs are checked, they are cross-questioned and are handed chits which basically say that they are not Taliban and are going to Bannu.
And there are numerous such tales. Mohammad Saiyyid said that air strikes nearly flattened his house. “I was picking bits of rubble when my wife screamed at me and said leave all this, let’s take whatever remains of our essential belongings, grab the children and get out of here. We thought we were the only ones but when I turned to look at my house for the last time I saw a sea of people behind me with their belongings and their families. We went uphill and covered a path of many kilometres. Women in our households observe strict purdah, to see them like this in the open…,” Saiyyid couldn’t speak further.
After hearing everyone’s stories, I cannot help but recall Operation Rah-i-Nijaat launched in 2009 in South Waziristan. At the time, the army claimed that within two months the operation would end. It has been five years and the operation is ongoing. Thousands of Mehsuds were displaced and are now living a difficult life in Tank, Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan with some of them subsisting on leftover rotis. The Taliban are present in South Waziristan where they are engaged in an insurgency against the state.
A Taliban commander Gilamand Mehsud called me up and admitted that their men have been killed and injured but not in the hundreds as claimed by the army. “So far nine men have been killed and five injured,” asserted Mehsud.
However, my sources tell me that four days ago, six bodies were found lying in Mirali Bazaar and by their appearance they seem to be Taliban. So far neither the army nor the Taliban have claimed them.
—As narrated to Maleeha Hamid Siddiqui
PESHAWAR: The North Waziristan tribal jirga on Friday refused meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and boycotted his official function in Bannu after they were not allowed to speak and inform the premier about sufferings of the uprooted families.
“We refused to meet the prime minister and attend his official function in Bannu as the government and military officials had asked us to attend the gathering, enjoy the lunch but don’t open our mouth in front of the prime minister,” Sher Mohammad Wazir, head of North Waziristan tribal jirga, told The News on telephone from Bannu.
Sher Mohammad Wazir said some government officials had earlier assured them that someone from the jirga would be given a chance to speak and talk about the hardships of the internally displaced persons from North Waziristan.
“However, when elders of our jirga were preparing to draft demands and raise the deplorable condition of the uprooted families in Bannu and other places, senior government officials backtracked of their commitment,” the tribal elder complained.
Sher Mohammad Wazir, grandson of known freedom fighter Mirza Ali Khan alias Faqir of Epi, alleged that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was kept in dark about the whole situation in North Waziristan and the plight of IDPs.
Another prominent member of the jirga, Hafiz Noorullah Shah said that the government later brought some ordinary tribesmen from among the IDPs and put turbans on their heads and presented them as tribal elders to the prime minister when members of the tribal jirga decided to boycott the official function.
“Senior government and military officials had approached us to attend the function and enjoy the lunch but said we would not be allowed to speak. We were anxiously waiting for the prime minister to come so we could inform him about the real situation on ground and then the inhuman treatment meted out with the displaced tribespeople. But they didn’t allow us to talk and we refused to boycott his function,” Hafiz Noorullah Shah said.
He said no one from 40-mmeber NWA tribal jirga attended the prime minister function in Bannu. “Government and military officials wanted us to stay away from the prime minister as they knew we would inform him about the real situation on ground. We also wanted inform the prime minister that all local and foreign troublemakers had left North Waziristan before the launch of military operation there. Therefore, we wanted to demand him to direct military authorities not to destroy our houses and markets,” tribal elder Sher Mohammad Wazir complained.
He complained that several houses and markets owned by local tribesmen had been blown up in Miranshah and Mir Ali despite the fact that people had fled the area.“Only innocent people are being suffered in this operation and that’s our main concern but no body is listening to us,” jirga head complained.
He said that after a meeting with governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and corps commander Peshawar, who gave them a deadline of June 20, the jirga went to Waziristan and held fruitful talks with the North Waziristan Taliban shura and all them agreed to expel local and foreign militants from the tribal region.
“We have successfully expelled half of the foreign militants and were going to oust the remaining when the military operation was launched. We wanted to complain the prime minister but were not given a chance,” Sher Mohammad Wazir complained.
He said the IDPs are being treated like animals but no one taking its notice.After the prime minister left for Islamabad, Sher Mohammad Wazir said senior government officials came to them and wanted them to end their protest.
“We told them that you people are treating us like animals. We made it clear on them that we don’t need your Rs20, 000 cash but don’t destroy our houses and buildings in Waziristan,” the tribal elder said.
He said they demanded of the government to give one-week relaxation in curfew in Waziristan so that people could bring out their precious goods they had left in home.A top government official when contacted in Bannu confirmed that some of the jirga members had boycotted the PM’s function but a few others were seen participating in the gathering.
“In the morning, the came to the office of commissioner Bannu and then went to the residence of Senator Faridullah Khan for a meeting. They couldn’t develop consensus whether they should boycott or attend the PM’s meeting after they were stopped from speaking. Later some of the elders decided to attend the function and others boycotted it,” the official said and wished not to be named.
It is good to know that at least few progressives have stood up against the military operations in FATA. We often see many fake liberals and progressives in Pakistan, who actually are sectarian and social class fascists, support this fake war on terror. It is one of the rare moments that a group educated people with some sense of justice left in them stood up against tyranny.
I would have loved to see them criticizing military’s policy of using sectarianism itself through the likes of Zaid Hamid, Faisal Raza Abidi, Sunni Ittehad Council etc to forward the war agenda or to see some blame wrongly going against capitalism but in fact it is ‘corporatism’ which should have been targeted. However, it is a great thing to know that not all progressives and liberals are fake in Pakistan.
We, the undersigned, demand an immediate end to the ongoing military operation in the North Waziristan region of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). We expect this, the sixth military operation in FATA within the last decade, to follow the pattern set by the previous “decisive” operations which resulted in death and suffering for the people of FATA.
The current operation in North Waziristan is nothing but a sham that will only increase the suffering of the people of FATA. Those declaring “full support” for the military operation choose to ignore history (and the present) at their own peril.
While we condemn religious extremism and militancy in the strongest terms, we do not believe that the problem of religious militancy in Pakistan can be addressed through military means nor by an exclusive focus on FATA as a harbour of militancy. Our demands are as follows:
1. An immediate and unconditional halt to the ongoing military operation in NorthWaziristan and other parts of Tribal Areas.
2. We demand that the people of FATA have the right to decide what to do with the problem of militancy in their area. This process must include working-classes, peasants, women and minorities in FATA – with complete accountability, full access to independent media and without any coercion from the security establishment or militant groups.
3. Public disclosure of the names, details and any alleged militant linkages of those killed in the ongoing operation.
4. Immediate abolition of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) and steps to integrate FATA into mainstream Pakistan by providing guarantee of fundamental rights including rights of political association and the national penal code.
For complete demands and list of people who signed the documents, please visit:
I am especially glad to see the names of teachers in the list who are showing support for some good cause.
Imran Khan condemned US efforts to purchase the services of the Pakistan government to carry out a military operation in NWA
Glad to see that Imran Khan and PTI have taken some time out of their recent rhetoric against Geo. I hope more will come from them against this war especially in KPK and national assemblies.
Here is a press release from PTI on the issue:
Chairman Imran Khan’s Press Statement (12th June, 2014)
PTI Chairman, Imran Khan, today condemned US efforts to purchase the services of the Pakistan government to carry out a military operation in NWA. By linking military aid and CSF payments directly to an operation in NWA the US is using bribery for the PMLN government while seeking to discredit the Pakistan army.
Khan pointed out that conducting such a military operation when most of the groups in NWA want talks is suicidal as it would result in the following:
- 7 lakh people will be displaced.
- Those groups who have delinked from the TTP and want dialogue will be turned against Pakistan and would lead to a uniting of militant forces again.
- When the main groups in NWA are supportive of peace through dialogue, then the US-desired operation is clearly intended to turn these people against Pakistan.
The Chairman, on behalf of PTI, put forward the following demands:
The government must reject this US move and inform the national political leadership of the status of the dialogue mandated by the APC.
The government must ensure that those seeking dialogue are separated from those continuing to carry out acts of terror and to isolate the latter so action can be taken against them.
The Chairman reminded the nation and the government that suicide attacks in KPK had fallen to 12 from 25 the previous year, since PTI government took over and dialogue started.
Khan also reminded that the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2013-2014 stated that the country sustained $6.7 billion losses in the outgoing fiscal year, which were $3.3 billion or 33% less than the losses sustained during the preceding year. This was a direct result of the drastic reduction in drone attacks and the commencement of dialogue.
Khan emphasised that Pakistan’s state and government cannot continue to play the role of mercenaries for an US agenda. If a military operation is to be conducted, the government must first explain what happened to the dialogue. It must also ensure that all civilians are evacuated from the area of the operation.
Finally and most critically it must separate the groups wanting dialogue from the hardened terrorists and act against the latter while protecting the former.
According to media reports, Imran Khan, Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) has finally woke up and found sometime from good for nothing Geo bashing to put some light on North Waziristan bombing issue.
According to DAWN:
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on Tuesday said it appears as if a conspiracy is being hatched to detach North Waziristan from the country and vowed to bring the matter to Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif’s notice, DawnNews reported.
Briefing the media after attending a meeting of the party’s core committee here, he said that he will meet with the army chief and appeal to him to stop the military offensive in North Waziristan.
The PTI chief said he witnessed similar situation in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) during the military operation before it was detached from rest of the country in 1971.
In past few days, army used heavy jet and gunship helicopter bombings over civilian population which resulted in the deaths of dozens of innocent people including kids.
Good to see him at least waking up on the issue even if a bit too late.
As far as smelling conspiracy to detach N Waziristan is concerned, I think its a bit too late. The option of detachment now looks perfectly moral and logical especially when populations in settled areas of Karachi, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore sided with the mercenary army in their merciless bombings over civilians in tribal areas.
It will still be interesting to see if IK is really going to do something about these bombings or is he just giving a false hope to the people affected by these bombings?
Another good article by Hamid Mir on how establishment under Musharraf created this mess of terrorism and sectarian violence in Pakistan. My view on the issues are:
General Musharraf, Army and other pro-war lobbies used sectarian and social class differences in the society to forward their war agenda. Before 2005-06, there wasn’t much support for this fake war on terror but after that time they worked
on sectarian and social-class lines to create acceptability for this war. 2007 Lal-Masjid operation was in those same lines. The other thing they did was to exploit ethnic differences to strengthen his rule and MQM/PPP/ANP assisted 12 May 2007 was part of that policy. These things may have helped Musharraf in his war agenda or temporarily strengthening his rule but this has put Pakistan into a self-destructing mode.
Below is the article by Hamid Mir on Lal Masjid Operation. published in Jang:
May Allah give justice to the victims of this barbaric action by state institutions and give strength to the judges of Supreme Court to deliver justice without any fear. We also need to make state institutions clean from these evil minds who plot these evil things against the country and its people.
Swat is a good example to see how extremism develops. In 2006 I went to the area with my friends. We offered prayers in mosque (belonging to Jud or Fazlullah). We had people from different sects like Shia, Sunni or non-taqleedis but no one in the mosque bothered to question our different ways of praying and everyone was normal about it.
Similarly there were tourists with different social-class backgrounds and dressed up like the way they do in Karachi, Islamabad etc and no one bothered to question their dresses. There were girls school in the area and no one bothered to blow them up. Things started to go bad in the area when Army demolished the local structure which created vacuum for these groups to take over and especially when Lal-Masjid operation was conducted (The operation itself was sectarian and social-class fascism backed) , it gave a message to the people that there ways are in danger now and so they went on to the path of extremism. Its very easy for us to consider others as evil aliens and point fingers at them but to resolve a problem, an honest analysis is required to see where it all started and where the root cause lies.
Swat, Tribal areas etc were promised that their autonomy will remain in tact if they join Pakistan but Army on various occasions from 60s violated these agreements and started to meddle in there affairs especially in Musharraf’s time they deliberately targeted their religious schools and institutions. It seems that army used this war not only to bag dollars from Americans but also to pursue their old goal of invading these tribal areas because they seem to love only that Pakistan which is under their boots otherwise they will do another Bangladesh with that part of the country like they are also doing with Baluchistan.
People are again chanting slogans for more War in North Waziristan especially after Malala Yousafzai attack. They should ask their self about the goals they have achieved after decades of military operations in FATA, Baluchistan and Swat. These operations have resulted in more extremism and more terrorism, and they are not going to give different results in the future except things will go worse.
Recent events of march against drone strikes and attack on Malala Yousafzai have raised some important questions in my mind. These questions are mainly related to the timing of the event and how past events were dealt by the government and security institutions.
If Benazir Murder case is resolved then a lot can be understood about this fake war. For a start, one should ask that how was it possible that some rogue terrorists were able to delete or tempered the mobile communication record from the area? As far as I know that only ISI or some other high level intelligence organization like CIA (Like NADRA data they can surely access this data too) can do it.
These incidents like Benazir, Malala, Islamic University blast or Peshawar market blasts (denied by Talibans) happen at crucial times when anti-war protests take momentum or some crucial decisions are being made about further operations.
Another interesting event is the letter written by Afghan (Pentagon puppet) President Hamid Karzai to PTI’s Chairman, Imran Khan. For those who think that Malala issue is not related to drones and military operations or this fake war, there are few things to ponder upon (If they have the brain to do so). Why the president of a country would like to write a letter to Imran Khan and show the concerns which are shown by social-class and sectarian fascists in Pakistan and pro-imperialism media in USA? It seems Imran Khan and PTI’s march against drone strikes not only disturbed the plans of Pakistani sectarian and social-class fascists but also disturbed the pro-war scum internationally.
Another thing to understand about drone, NWA operation and Malala issue is that Imran Khan is scheduled to lead a protest in front of UN on 26th October 2012.
We need to find answers for these questions. For a start on Malala’s issue, government’s own interior minister Rehman Malik denied the involvement of TTP. Even if it is TTP then there are more than 15 (some say 30) groups working as TTP.
Some are fighting for revenge, some are being funded by international enemies of the country who want Pakistan to remain stuck in this war and some are local criminal gangs. Unless they are not identified clearly, word Taliban has no meaning. Free and Fair investigation can only be done in current scenario through Supreme Court or some investigation body working under SC. But again judiciary is being badly cornered by the government and army due to corruption and missing persons cases. That is why I say for a start we need to find the names behind Benazir murder case.
People say that these tribes and terrorists are ideologically connected. Ideologically connected is also a vague term. People with same customs, cultures or grievances or may be some other common points can be termed as ideologically connected. With this logic most Indians can be termed as RSS, most USA can be connected to Bund or KKK, all Irish people can be termed as IRA, all British people can blamed for the crimes of East India Company, most Israelis can be linked with Stern gang, most Germans can be linked with Nazis etc. Without addressing the root causes, one cannot solve this issue and waging a war against populations after some isolated incidents doesn’t look very intelligent especially after a decade of destruction.
When are we going to learn the lessons from past mistakes? Or Pakistan army and government are committed to repeat another 1971?
This one is for Mushis apologists and narrow-minded people who are mentally retarded enough to still praying and hoping for Musharraf’s return. 2007 was the worst year for Pakistan which damaged the federation and economy . Still its impacts are going on with growing severity day by day. People see the growing tree but don’t see where the roots are.Musharraf played sectarian, ethnic and social class cards to his favor which still serve for him to get some support. This approach has destroyed our social fabric.
1- 31st March 2007 attempt to remove the CJP in a ridiculous manner:
A real insulting attack on Judiciary, weakened the already weakened institution.
2- 12th May 2007 Karachi violence:
An attempt to kill CJP and an attempt to create a civil war type situation between ethnic groups. Purpose was divide people and extend his rule.
3- 3rd July 2007 Lal Masjid Operation:
It was done to dilute the impact of First Lawyers Movement and to give sectarian and social class color to this war against terror so that it can be owned by a wide section of our society. The consequences are still being felt as now after this operation this war has become more brutal and intensity has increased to highest level. It was part of Mushi’s expand the war and extend the rule policy. The logics, like Masjid e Zarrar or Takfeeri or Sufi/Wahabi division, which were floated in the masses to justify the operation later proved to be really damaging for our society as many who opposed the operation used the same logics to justify their brutal actions. This started a new row of suicide bombings and terrorism and a new sectarian war started with it.
4- 3rd November 2007 Martial Law:
It was another brutal attack on constitution, judiciary, media, lawyers, civil society and everyone who was against the illegal regime of Musharraf, his unconstitutional actions and violations of human rights.This action brought Pakistan’s economy to its knees. The economic structure of Mushi and Shortcut Aziz was fake and based on fictitious economy so economy started to collapse further (collapse already started in early 2007).
5- 27 December 2007 Benazir Murder:
Mushi and his partners decided to remove Benazir from the scene. It brought Zardari as new Chairman of PPP through an allegedly fake will. Benazir and Mushi had a deal arranged by USA,UK and Pakistan Army which broke when Mushi imposed 3rd November Martial Law and also Mushi never wanted Benazir to share his rule with Benazir and also he was afraid that Benazir might not be able to do things for him which he wanted like a clean and safe exit. Zardari was given PPP and NRO in return for Mushi’s security and later this helped the smiling wicked person to become Pakistan’s President. But Zardari gave Mushi a safe exit and now due to his incompetency or probably planning Mushi is trying to come back in Pakistani politics.