Footprints: Dispatches from North Waziristan- Article in DAWN by Sailab Mehsud

by Sailab Mehsud

Source: http://www.dawn.com/news/1117751/

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pakistan Army formally announced operation in NWA. Pakistan going for a complete failure.

Pakistan army or in reality occupied mercenary armed forces have succeeded in derailing the peace process through aerial bombings resulting in mindless revenge attacks from TTP and IMU groups sitting Afghanistan.

Army has named these operations as “Zarb e Azb” to give their mercenary actions some religious cover. Troop worshipers, sectarian and social class fascists have welcomed this decision. It seems anti-war lobbies failed in their efforts for peace and now destruction imminent.

For me the real worry is non-combatants especially kids who will die on both sides (tribal and so called settled areas side) as collateral damage.

May Allah protect the innocent ones and punish the enemies of peace who are bombing kids from both sides.

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:

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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.

Finally Imran Khan took some sort of a stand on NWA bombings: Seems a bit too late

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?

Malala Issue, drones, NWA operation and fog of this fake war on terror

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?