Monday, January 31, 2011

Four injured in Kurram mine blasts

Monday, January 31, 2011

Four injured in Kurram mine blasts

PARACHINAR: Four persons were injured in mine blasts in Pewar and Balishkhel areas in Kurram Agency on Sunday, tribal sources said. The sources said militants had planted explosive device in a field in Pewar area that went off, leaving Javed Hussain injured. In another incident, an explosive device planted on the roadside in Balishkhel area in lower part of Kurram Agency went off, injuring three persons. Two of them were identified as Zahir Hussain and Zulfiqar Ali. 

Viable peace in Kurram demanded

PARACHINAR: Tribal elders Sunday called for steps to restore viable peace to Kurram Agency, a tribal region that has seen bloody sectarian violence over the last three years.

In a statement, Member of the National Assembly from Kurram Agency Sajid Tori said some quarters were trying to derail the peace process. He urged the government and members of a peace jirga to announce the outcome of a recently held jirga to put an end to years of sectarian strife in the tribal region.

"Whenever an attempt is made to restore peace in Kurram Agency, some quarters become active to impede the process," he complained. He said the people in Kurram Agency wanted peace for which they had sided with the government.

Introduce reforms in Fata, govt urged: Tribal NGOs Consortium and Frontier Regions Civil Society Network (FCSN) have welcomed the merger of Kala Dhaka (Torghar) into the settled areas of Khyber Pakh-tunkhwa. In a statement, Chairman Tribal NGOs Consortium and Coordinator FCSN Zar Ali Khan Afridi said President Asif Ali Zardari announced reforms for Federally Administered Tribal Areas one and half years back on the Independence Day on August 14, 2009 but these were yet to be implemented. He said the people of Fata had been suffering for the last almost 63 years but since 2003 they were living in a hell. "Their political and social life has been destroyed while the business activities are at a standstill due to militancy," he added.

The TNC and FCSN asked the government to announce reforms for Fata including extension of Political Parties Act, representation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, abolition of collective responsibility clause in the FCR and giving Fata the status of Pata.

Fighting erupts in Kurram after truce

Fighting erupts in Kurram after truce


It was reported on Friday that the main Thall-Parachinar Road, which has remained closed for about four years, would be reopened in 24 hours under an accord between the warring groups. - Photo by AP

ISLAMABAD: Militants attacked a village in Kurram on Sunday two days after a grand jirga headed by lawmakers had announced a truce between Turi Bangash tribes and Taliban.

It was reported on Friday that the main Thall-Parachinar Road, which has remained closed for about four years, would be reopened in 24 hours under an accord between the warring groups.

On Saturday morning, the FC commandant announced that a passenger convoy escorted by FC personnel would leave from Parachinar for Thall. But Taliban and their local supporters blocked the road when the convoy reached the Bagan village in Lower Kurram. They said that they did not accept any deal for reopening the road.

On Sunday afternoon, a Taliban Lashker from Khar Kaly Sadda attacked the neighbouring Turi Bangash village of Blashkhel, but faced tough resistance.

According to sources, clashes were continuing and spreading to other villages.

They said that Taliban militants fleeing from Waziristan and Orakzai and their local supporters had launched the attack from their stronghold in Sadda and adjoining Khar Kaly in a bid to browbeat Turi Bangash tribes in Blashkhel.

According reports from the area, six Turi Bangash tribesmen and two Taliban attackers were injured in the clashes.

Some reports said that more than 20 Taliban had been killed and several others injured. While retreating, the militants had taken away the bodies and their injured associates.


Kurram Agency: After years of fighting, jirga brokers truce

The Express Tribune

Kurram Agency: After years of fighting, jirga brokers truce

Published: January 30, 2011

Formal announcement of peace agreement to be made in the next 24 hours.

ISLAMABAD: grand tribal jirga in Parachinar has negotiated a truce between warring tribes after three years of fighting left over 2,000 dead and at least 3,500 injured in the Kurram tribal region.

Apart from this, over 3,000 families have left the region to seek shelter in other parts of Fata and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa since 2007.

Sajid Toori and Munir Orakzai, two lawmakers from Kurram Agency, told The Express Tribune that a formal announcement of the truce will be made on Monday at a news conference.

The agreement was reached after two years of negotiations by the Jirga comprising 225 elders from the entire tribal belt.

Malik Waris Khan, a former federal minister and leader of the PPP from Khyber Agency, headed the jirga and Haji Munir Orakzai, Sajid Toori, Haji Faiz Muhammad Malik, Jamal Hussain Orakzai, Malik Shah Hussain, Noor Jafar Orakzai and Malik Bismillah Orakzai are said to have played a pivotal role in negotiating the truce.

The jirga decided that the main Thal-Peshawar Road which leads to Parachinar will be opened immediately. The road has remained closed for the last three years due to fighting between Shia and Sunni tribesmen.

Hundreds of Taliban fighters from Fata and Afghanistan had come to the aid of the Sunni population in Parachinar against Shia tribesmen.

The Taliban have made the accusation that a neighbouring country has been providing arms and money to the Shia Toori tribes. It was also alleged that Baitullah Mehsud and Mullah Omar had sent their fighters to side with the Sunni tribes.

Sajid Toori claimed that 1,400 Shia tribesmen have been killed in fighting during the past four years.

Lower and Central Kurram, Chahar Dewar, Bin Yameen, Jalanai and Tri Mengal and Sadda have been the scenes of some of the bloodiest clashes between the two sides.

Munir Orakzai said that the political agent of the agency has assured the jirga that the government would compensate the affected people.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th,  2011.






or join

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tribesmen demand opening of Thal-Parachinar Road

Tribesmen demand opening of Thal-Parachinar Road

PARACHINAR: The problems of tribal people have increased manifold due to lack of edibles items, medicines and petroleum products due to the long-term closure of the Thal-Parachinar Road in Kurram Agency. The tribal people have demanded immediate opening of this road to avert any humanitarian crisis in the area. The tribal elders Azmat Hussain Bangesh, Ali Khan Orakzia and Gul Khan Tori, during a peace Jirga held in Parachinar, have urged the government to take measures for the opening and safety of the Thal-Parachinar Road to check the suffering of tribal people. They stressed for restarting the convoy service to address scarcity of food, medicines and other things to Parachinar.



or join

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Parachinar-bound passengers’ convoy returns to Peshawar

Parachinar-bound passengers' convoy returns to Peshawar

PARACHINAR: A Parachinar-bound convoy of over 700 passengers has been sent back to Peshawar after waiting for many days in Thall. 
According to tribal MNA Sajid Hussain, a convoy of 30 vehicle having 700 passengers including women, children, aged persons and patients had left Peshawar for Parachinar. 
He said that the security forces stopped the convoy at Thall. He said that the convoy waited for about 35 hours in Thall. However, the security forces did not provide security to the convoy and all the vehicles were sent back to Peshawar.
The security forces say that the convoy was sent back to Peshawar due to fear of militant's attack on the convoy. 
MNA Sajid Turi has demanded of the government to eliminate the camps of the terrorists in Kurram Agency and opened the Thall-Parachinar for transport.
Meanwhile, three tribesmen from Bangash tribe were shot dead by armed men at Thowda Cheena area of the Kurram Agency. The local political administration has ordered inquiry into the incident. 





or join

Saturday, January 22, 2011

NA body chief for levying toll tax on Nato at Torkham


Saturday, January 22, 2011

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly's Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions (Safron) has strongly advocated levying of toll tax at the Torkham checkpost on Nato trucks, asking the relevant ministries to come up with a proposal in this context within 15 days.

Talking to The News here on Friday, the NA panel chairman Sajid Hussain Turi said the committee in its Thursday's meeting, had directed the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Law and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to furnish a report on the matter.

He maintained that not a penny was being paid to the Fata from the massive amounts being collected near Peshawar by the authorities, whereas Nato trucks and oil tankers were destroying roads in the tribal region.

"We need money for repair of roads, but no one is prepared to provide it. Therefore, we have decided to ponder over this possibility and sought the relevant ministries' output on this count," Turi said.

To a question, he said the representatives of the Fata Secretariat had declined to share details of the toll tax being collected at Hayatabad with the National Assembly's standing committee. Therefore, they had summoned the secretaries Finance, Commerce and the Foreign Office to explain the matter to them.

He contended that Fata should either be paid from the toll tax being collected at Hayatabad or toll tax be levied on Nato trucks and tankers crossing the Jamrud checkpost. He charged that at Kharlaachi checkpost, the Frontier Corps was charging from Rs 22,000 to Rs35,000 from each truck or tanker heading for Kurram Agency on their way to Afghanistan. He claimed even the local trucks, carrying food supplies and medicines for the under siege population of Kurram Agency, were being heavily charged.

He said the panel expressed concern over the lack of security on the only road leading to the Kurram Agency from Tall side and decided to summon the law-enforcement officers in the next meeting to seek an explanation why convoys of tucks, carrying vital items for the people of Kurram, were intercepted and set on fire every now and then.

"We are unfortunately faced with a Gaza-like situation for the last three years but this has not shaken those who matter and can rectify the crisis-like scenario, as hundreds of thousands of inhabitants, including children, elderly and women face an acute shortage of food and medicines," said the panel chairman.

He pointed out on January 4 this year, as many as 96 trucks headed for Kurram Agency, 23 of these meant for Taliban-infested Parachinar and adjoining areas of the agency were set ablaze along with medicines and food items while the rest were allowed to cross the Pak-Afghan border.

The legislator from Kurram Agency alleged that certain senior officers of the law-enforcement agencies with the connivance of Taliban were obstructing movement of truckloads of desperately-needed food items and medicines for Kurram Agency. "We are summoning the responsible officers in our next meeting to be held within a fortnight to ascertain why they are failing to discharge their duty," he asserted.

The legislator from Kurram Agency pointed out that a convoy of coaches, carrying a number of passengers and food supplies and medicines, was stopped by the Taliban at Tall-Parachinar Road and it had to return to Peshawar on Friday after 35 hours' ordeal.





or join

Friday, January 21, 2011

Truce ends blood feud in Pakistan that has killed 3,000

My National

Truce ends blood feud in Pakistan that has killed 3,000

Tom Hussain

Jan 21, 2011

ISLAMABAD // Tribesmen in a Pakistani region wracked by sectarian violence fuelled by al Qa'eda have agreed to end a four-year blood feud, politicians said.

More than 3,000 people have died in the Kurram area since 2007, after an influx of militants from nearby tribal regions sparked fighting between Shiite and Sunni tribes.

Kurram is one of seven tribal regions of Pakistan bordering eastern Afghanistan, known collectively as the Fata.

Pakistani politicians involved in talks by a 100-member "grand jirga", or council of elders, drawn equally from the rival tribes and their allies, said the agreement was reached in Parachinar on Monday.

"The people of Kurram have been waiting for the restoration of peace for years, and would soon live like brothers again," Malik Waris Khan Afridi, a former minister, told reporters in the region's capital, Parachinar.

The conflict started in 2006 when militants arriving from other tribal areas carried out attacks on Shiites. The situation deteriorated in 2007, when Sunnis blocked a key road in Kurram and Shiites expelled Sunnis from Parachinar.

The peace agreement came amid reports by the Pakistani media that the Haqqani Network, a potent Afghan militant faction based in North Waziristan, had brokered the deal in return for a new safe haven and right of passage into Afghanistan.

The politicians dismissed the reports as "propaganda".

"There is nothing like that. More than 1,200 of our [Shiite] people have been martyred. It is out of the question that we would allow a single Talib any access," Sajid Hussain Turi, who represents Kurram in Pakistan's parliament, told The National.

The politicians said the terms of the agreement would be made public "within days".

Reports in the US and Pakistani media had claimed that the Haqqani Network had become involved in the negotiations in September.

They said Ibrahim and Khalil Haqqani, sons of the network's ailing leader, Jalal-ud-Din Haqqani, had participated in two rounds of talks in September, held in Peshawar.

They also participated at a 10-day session of the 100-member tribal council in Islamabad in December, the reports had said.

The Fata Research Centre, an independent think tank based in Islamabad, said reports of the Haqqanis' involvement had been privately confirmed by members of the tribal council.

It said a scheduled December 25 meeting of the grand jirga, which had been expected to prove decisive, had not materialised because Khalil Haqqani was supposedly not available.

Jirga members were informed that Mr Haqqani was spending Christmas in London, it said.

The militant brothers hosted a delegation of Pakistani politicians, led by Malik Waris Khan Afridi, a former minister, in Miranshah, the capital of North Waziristan, on January 3, it said.

The Haqqani Network's bases in North Waziristan, from where it launches attacks against Afghan and US-led Nato forces, are a bone of contention between Pakistan and the United States.

Barack Obama, the US president, in an October report to the Congress, described North Waziristan as the global "epicentre of terrorism".

Washington frequently pressures Islamabad to launch a military operation against the militants there.

The Pakistani government has promised action, but has refused to commit on the timing, saying its military can't launch a new campaign while it is conducting counterterrorist actions in other parts of the Fata and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

It has also been reluctant to act against the Haqqani Network because of a strategic relationship that dates back to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, analysts said.

In return for being permitted to operate freely in the Fata, the network has occasionally acted as an arbitrator between Pakistani militants and the government, they said.

According to Pakistani media reports, the Haqqani Network's commander in North Waziristan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, has played peacemaker after recent clashes between militant groups and security forces.

Pakistan intelligence sources have said limited, targeted, military operations in North Waziristan are likely by the summer.

That has prompted the Haqqani Network to look for an alternative safe haven in the Fata, the analysts said.

They said Kurram was the network's preferred destination, because it offered the opportunity to spread its operations in Afghanistan northwards to the province of Nangarhar. 

"The Bodki-Kharlachi [border] crossing is what the Haqqanis want. If they get it, that would be a great success, because it would put them within 60km of Kabul," said Ashraf Ali, president of the Fata Research Centre.

However, he agreed any such arrangement would not be possible unless the predominantly Shiite Bangash and Turi tribes residing in border areas agreed.

Mr Turi, the parliamentary representative for Kurram, said the success of the agreement, which restates the terms of a 2008 deal, depended on the support of the government and military.

A key expectation of the Shiite tribes is the reopening of the Parachinar-Thall road, the region's only paved link to the Pakistani hinterland, he said. The road has been blockaded since 2007 by Sunni tribesman, allied with militants.

The alliance has been broken by the progress in negotiations, sparking clashes that have killed more than 100 militants, including two prominent commanders.

Mr Turi said the opening of the road would allow the fulfilment of the Shiite tribes' other major condition - the safe return of tens of thousands of people displaced by the violence in Kurram. 




or join