Tuesday, March 1, 2011

PM announces Rs. 1.7 bn for rehabilitation of people in Kurram Agency

Tuesday, 01 March 2011
PM announces Rs. 1.7 bn for rehabilitation of people in Kurram Agency

ISLAMABAD, Mar 1 (APP): Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday announced Rs one billion in the current budget and Rs. 700 million in the next year's budget for the rehabilitation of 32,000 affected people of Kurram Agency, who had to leave their homes because of secretarian riots and militancy.He lauded the efforts of Senators, members of the National Assembly, elders, members of the Jirga, ministers and officials in bringing about peace in the Kurram Agency which helped the people to return to their homes.The Prime Minister made this announcement while addressing the members of the Grand Jirga from the Kurram Agency at the Prime Minister House here.

The Prime Minister stressed that the amount allocated for the purpose of rehabilitation and welfare of the affected people must be spent in the most transparent manner, so that everybody, who had suffered during the last four years, may benefit from the compensation. 
He also announced to give special certificates of appreciation to all the members of the Grand Jirga of Kurram Agency for their contribution towards restoring peace and harmony in the area.
The Prime Minister said that the elders and people of Kurram Agency had set an example for the other agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) that through dialogue and discussion, issues can be solved and peace restored. 
He stressed upon the elders to identify the miscreants and foreign elements in their respective areas so that such people could be brought to book. Such elements, he added, were distorting the image of Islam and the country.
The Prime Minister said that the basic objective of the government's 3Ds policy was to establish peace and work for the betterment of the people. 
He, however, mentioned that the challenge to the writ of the government would not be accepted. He assured that the government was responsible for the development of FATA region and all possible measures would be undertaken to bring these areas at par with other areas of the country.
The Prime Minister said that the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA had made great sacrifices for the country in the war against terrorism which was duly recognized by the people of the country.
The people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA, he added, had great role in the creation of Pakistan, defending the western frontiers as well as in the struggle for restoration of democracy.
Earlier the Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while speaking on the occasion said that he had observed that the leadership at the federal level was fully committed for the betterment of the people of the province, particularly the FATA region. 
The process of interaction and dialogue, he mentioned, should continue as it helped create better understanding. The success of dialogue process in Kurram Agency, he added, should encourage the elders and people of other agencies to follow suit and help bring prosperity and development in their areas.
Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Dr. Babar Awan while addressing the Jirga said that the people of Kurram deserved special appreciation for setting an example for the entire FATA region. The Jirga system, he added, was a traditional system of dialogue to resolve matters and should be encouraged.
Minister for Interior Rehman A. Malik said on the occasion that by bringing harmony and peace among various sects of religion the people of Kurram Agency had set an example for all the people of the country.
Haji Munir Khan Orakzai, MNA and members of the Grand Jirga of Kurram Agency thanked the Prime Minister for his support and guidance in bringing about peace in the Kurram Agency.
The secretarian tension and militancy which started in April 2007, they said, had finally ended after the successful implementation of Murree Agreement reached in February 2010. The roads and markets, they mentioned, had now been opened and life had 
returned to normal. The people had almost returned to their homes,they said, but required support for rehabilitation.
The members of the Jirga said that the Prime Minister had always shown concern and strived for the people of FATA. 
The pleasant personality of the Prime Minister and his sincerity for reconciliation, they said, had helped build trust of the people of Kurram Agency. 
They also appreciated the role of the armed forces in helping restoration of the peace and harmony.
The Jirga members invited the Prime Minister to visit Kurram Agency to see for himself peace and tranquility in the area.  
The Prime Minister accepted the invitation.The Jirga was attended by Eng. Shaukat Ullah, Minister for State and Frontier Region, Malik Bilal Rehman, MNA, Sajid Hussain  Turi, MNA, Muhammad Kamran Khan, MNA, Abdul Malik Wazir, MNA, Hameed 
Ullah Jan Afridi, MNA, Senators Eng. Rashid Ahmed Khan, Hafiz Rasheed Ahmed, Maulana M. Saleh Shah Qureshi, Abdul Raziq, Abdur Rashid, Jirga members Malik Waris Khan Afridi, former Minister,Malik Bismiullah Khan, Malik Zangi Khan, Malik Faizullah Khan Orakzai, Malik Jamal Hussain Orakzai, Malik Badshah Hussain Mian,Malik Noor Najaf Ali, Malik Izat Gul Orakzai, Malik Jahangir Khan,Malik Najaf Ali Turi, and Syed Musadiq Shah, Political Agent Kurram Agency.





Peace In One Pakistani Tribal Valley Offers Hope

Publisher Logo

Tuesday, March 01, 2011


Peace In One Pakistani Tribal Valley Offers Hope

A helicopter ride was one of the fews ways out of Parachinar during the four-year seige.

A helicopter ride was one of the fews ways out of Parachinar during the four-year seige.

February 28, 2011
By Abubakar Siddique
A fragile peace is taking root in Pakistan's western Kurram tribal region after nearly four years of sectarian warfare between Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims.

Some have criticized a recent peace pact by saying that it is less about forging a lasting peace than about facilitating insurgents' infiltration into neighboring Afghanistan. But the local population appears committed to making it work. 

Success could have far-reaching implications. If peace is possible in a hotbed like Kurram, then it could serve as a model for millions suffering from war in other tribal areas.

'Many People Were Injured'

Resident Noor Janan's situation is typical. He lost his budding business in 2007 when clashes broke out between Shi'a and Sunnis in Parachinar. Rioting in the small border city, which serves as the headquarters of Kurram, soon devolved into sectarian war.

As the Sunni population of Parachinar was forced out, the city's mostly Shi'a population was hemmed in -- trapped by retreating Sunnis who blocked the main road to the outside and set siege on the city.

Janan's priorities changed remarkably. For the past four years his main obligation has not been to look after his wife and four children, but to man frontline trenches and care for the sick and the injured. 

Children displaced by fighting stand in line and wait for handouts in 2010.
"Many people were injured and many houses were destroyed," he said. "I did all in my power to help my people."

Janan is Turi -- a tribe of 500,000 whose adherence to Shi'ite Islam makes it unique among Pashtuns. The Turis occupy a sliver of tribal territory known as the Parrot's Beak that extends westward across Afghanistan's eastern border. On the Pakistani side, Parachinar is positioned within striking distance of Kabul, just 100 kilometers to its east. 

For the most part, the Turis lived in harmony with neighboring Sunni tribes for centuries, with a handful of exceptions. In the 1980s, predominantly Sunni Afghan Islamist guerillas attempted to overrun the strategically important region. 

In 2007, a fierce sectarian war broke out when the Sunni Taliban attempted to conquer the Parachinar. More than 3,000 people have died and thousands more injured in the ensuing fighting. Some Sunnis blame Iran for the development, claiming the clerical regime supported and radicalized their Shi'a neighbors.

Both Sides Committed

Animosity remains high, but a cease-fire worked out in early February and backed by Islamabad offers proof that Shi'a and Sunni alike are committed to peace. 

Middle-aged businessman Munir Khan Orakzai, who represents the Sunni population of the lower half of Kurram in Pakistan's parliament, said that both sects realize that they have fought a useless cause that killed many innocent people. "There can be no logical end to this [sectarian violence]," he said. "That's why people concluded this agreement."

Tribal elders and government representatives attend a peace conference in Parachinar in 2008.
A peace agreement was signed before, in 2008, but it lacked government support and rival factions had one eye on possible military gains.

Under the new agreement, Islamabad is promising rehabilitation for the thousands of displaced families, and the deployment of additional troops to guard key routes. 

Work Of The Haqqanis?

Skeptics abound. Pakistani pundits suggested that the deal was worked out by the Haqqanis -- a large Pashtun family from Afghanistan whose elderly patriarch Jalaluddin Haqqani emerged as one of the most effective guerilla commanders in the 1980s.

His son, Sirajuddin Haqqani, now controls thousands of fighters and facilitates relations between Al-Qaeda Arabs, extremist Afghans, Pakistanis, and Central Asians out of his sanctuary in North Waziristan, which adjoins Kurram to the south. Considering the Haqqanis anti-Shi'ite bent and outsider status, any role in an agreement would be rejected by Kurram's Shi'a.

Sajid Hussain Turi, a young lawmaker representing the region's Shi'ite population in the Pakistani parliament, adamantly rejected any Haqqani role. "We, the Turis, have lost 1,200 people and more than 5,000 of our people were injured in this," he said. "There is no question of involving people in this process that would ultimately harm us."

Turi said that the weakened position of the Taliban, in disarray after years of military operations, opened the door to peace. He said that even local Sunni allies of the Taliban now see the futility of their military campaign. 

Key intermediaries have high hopes for sustainable peace in Kurram. Waris Khan Afridi, a respected tribal leader from the neighboring Khyber tribal district, was among the mediators who put in countless hours bringing the two sides together. 

Unforgettable Scene 

On February 5, Afridi led the first civilian convoy of hundreds of vehicles to mark the break of Parachinar's siege. He described an unforgettable scene of thousands of Sunni and Shi'ite villagers welcoming his entourage. "It was like they all were freed from prison that day," he said.

Now, Afridi said, Pashtun tribes in neighboring tribal valleys are poised to follow the Kurram example. "We have always said that force is not a solution for anything and that the military operations will not solve our problems," he said. 

"Peace in Kurram," Afridi said, "will positively affect all the tribal areas, the [neighboring] province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the whole country."