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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Progressives in Pakistan demand an immediate end to military operation in FATA

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.

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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:

http://progpak.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/stop-the-military-operation-in-fata/

I am especially glad to see the names of teachers in the list who are showing support for some good cause.

Disappointments with my friends

I really hate myself while writing this but need to write it to give an honest view point.

I am really disappointed with almost all of my Shia friends who support this war. I thought there must be some good significant number of Shias in Pakistan who don’t blindly toe the line of that Jerk Khemenei or Seestani but here it seems its not the case and almost all are determined to push not only their selves in this more war mess and resulting terrorism but also others too. Almost all my Shia friends cannot see the fact they are being used as a fuel for this war by Pakistani and other pro-war establishments including their beloved Khomenist regime in Iran.

I also criticize sunni or deobandi or ahl-e-hadith or other sects and social classes for the hate based crap some of their leaders or other people do (LeJ or ST or Mumtaz Qadri or Malik Ishaq types) but a clear thing which disappoints me is that others have broad range of views and diversity at extremes (almost all against innocent killings except few mad people) but for my almost all Shia friends it looks that they are toeing some kind of deep rooted hate based agenda against others with no room for reconciliation.

They need to know no anti-war on terror person supports suicide attacks on Hazara or on other Shia communities but what I have seen is that almost all (not all) of my Shia friends feel really happy when they know about deaths of people including children from other sects in tribal areas, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or any where else. Even in Pakistan, they don’t really sympathize with anyone else but merely use one majority sect like Barelvi against the others like Deobandi or Ahl-e-Hadith. The trend is not just in religious maniacs but also evident in so called liberal or moderates.

I have always criticized army for this war mess but those who think they are being victimized should also see where they are going or what they are becoming in blind hatred.

They are trying to eliminate any space for those who want peaceful resolution of this war issue as probably it doesn’t fit into their hate based agenda to settle some centuries old good for nothing historical issues. Anti-war on terror people always condemn LeJ or other groups but unfortunately my Shia friends almost never condemn aerial bombings or military’s use of heavy conventional or even chemical weapons against other sects which is a crime even in worldly laws.

I don’t have any sympathies now for those who want innocent killings on both sides to satisfy their hatred for other sects and social classes. my only concern is those unrelated (who do not support this war or resulting terrorism) people who die as collateral damage but unfortunately there is no way to discriminate one from the other in aerial or suicide bombings which Shia groups want when they support this war.

May the wrath of Allah be on those from both sides of the conflict (Army, TTP, MWM,LeJ,SUC,SIC, PPP, ST,PMLN,MQM or others) who support these mass murders either through aerial/drone/military bombings or through suicide attacks.

Even India never does aerial bombings (drone or jet) on civilian populated areas despite almost 2 dozens of insurgencies.

I pray for the hardest wrath of Allah on those who consider innocent dead kids as an unavoidable or tolerable or necessary collateral damage.

I still pray for the blind followers of this corrupt system to get on the path of justice and peace but it seems we are going for complete self-destruction.

If the hatred is about religion or sects then at least while supporting aerial bombings, we should remember what the holy book says:

“O ye who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity, and let not hatred of any people seduce you that ye deal not justly. Deal justly, that is nearer to your duty. Observe your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is Informed of what ye do.” [Al-maeda ,8]

Imran Khan on Dr. Aafia an interview with Yvonne Ridley

 

Source : http://freeaafia.org/

If we need a revolution or something , we need genuine thinkers and visionaries not so called hakims or so called spiritualists .

If we need a revolution or something , we need genuine thinkers and visionaries not so called hakims or so called spiritualists who copy the ideas re-mold them into their dirty deceptive agenda and use the names and work of great genuine people like Iqbal, Jinnah etc for their bogus agenda. I am seeing lots of good people following these deceivers just in the name of nationalism, patriotism etc .
My suggestion is to use your free mind and sense of justice so that you don’t get misguided by these so called nationalists.

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Some of my friends on these views of mine against the war think that I support the terrorists for them I need to say:

Opposing the war doesn’t mean supporting the terrorists.

I consider both army and the suicide bombers or terrorists who are killing the innocent civilians as destroyers of peace and don’t find their actions as just.

The problem is when I oppose the war the “nationalists” think as if I am supporting the
terrorists in fact I am opposing the mess and pointing out to destroy the root cause.

I consider prime responsible for this mess are army and government and reason is they
brought an unwanted war on our land and people.

I oppose the killings of innocent civilians in suicide bombs and by army/air force bombings
but again I consider prime responsibility goes to the country institutions because they (means their key heads rest are just blind followers) created the mess for dollars and this mess has created terrorism.

It was army and government who breached the agreement made by Jinnah for dollars.

It was again army and government with allied forces in Afghanistan with their missile attacks and drone attacks destroyed three peace deals after 2004 .
Before this operation ISPR and Information ministry deliberately tried to mold the facts as if the agreements were broken by tribes but even former army generals like Asad Durrani rejected these claims.
Try to find out how “Neik Muhammad” got killed after the peace deal by USA missile attack and then look at the government reaction of owning it.

The terrorist activities can mainly be categorized as:

1) Revenge of the innocent killings by our forces here and Allied forces in Afghanistan.
Also our support in the form of giving supply route to NATO supplies and Drone attacks are playing it’s part as well.
2) Revenge and anger exploited by enemies of Pakistan but its our fault we are providing them the ground to play with.
3) Attacks like on Shariah academy,Peshawar and Benazir were done by players of weapon-blood-dollar game which includes enemies of Pakistan who want us to remain engaged in the war (so called allies in the so called war against terror) and their pets in our own ranks (politicians, military and civil establishment etc).

After the blast which killed Benazir Bhutto the place and all the evidence was washed within hours and a drama was created to link it with tribal situation which never got proved.
My question is who was being protected here?

4) Not to forget the ethnic and sectarian cards which Musharraf government played with their allied parties and groups to control power, they have also contributed a lot to this mess.

My questions are:

Can we support innocent killings in the name of nationalism?
Can we support injustice in the name of patriotism?
And after doing that can we expect peace?

If this is war then there is a need of making an independent war tribunal–>A note on Pakistan Army’s violations of human rights in US lead WAR AGAINST HUMANITY AND PEACE.

“No Justice! No Peace!” This is something what every sane person on the planet can understand.

But it seems understanding of this has been put aside during the US-lead war against humanity
and peace(so called war against terrorism). We saw videos and images coming out of Iraq and
Afghanistan of violations of human rights by US and allied forces in places like Bagram (the
same prison where Dr. Aafia was tortured),Abu ghuraib,Guantanamo and else where.

The similar practices were followed by Pakistan Army and security agencies during this US-lead
war and if it is really a war then there is a serious need of making a war tribunal to probe
what has happened during post 9/11 weapon-blood-dollar game in Pakistan.

The list of crimes is long which includes:
1) Mass killings and genocide of which WANA,Waziristan,Sawat,Baluchistan and LAL-Masjid are classic examples.
2) Humiliation and torturing of accused without proper trial.
3) Extra judicial killings (There are reports of this in Sawat,Fata and Baluchistan).
4) Torturing of the relatives of people (Who are not responsible of anything) who are allegedly fighting against the army(Recent video of Sawat is a real good example of this).
5) Illegal abduction of people and selling them to foreign countries for dollars without giving a proper trial (Missing persons case and Dr. Aafia Siddiqi come in the same category).

The worst thing is that Pakistan army is doing this with it’s own people which is one step
ahead of US and NATO forces as they are doing all the crimes against foreign people on foreign soil.

Our army and government never learned the lessons from history, we face the consequences of all this in 1971 in the form of Bangladesh now it seems the establishment wants to repeat it.

Therefore we appeal to all the justice and peace loving people of the world especially Pakistan to support the demand of making an independent war tribunal.

You can watch the Sawat torture video on: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8287976.stm