Saturday, September 29, 2012

Imran Khan's Waziristan Peace March - in a historic perspective

By @PTI_FATA (29 Sep 2012)
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FATA: Myth and Reality
MYTH: FATA is the HUB of militancy, terrorism and unrest in Afghanistan. 
REALITY: FATA is the worst "VICTIM of Militancy”. Thousands of Civilians dead & injured; Hundreds of Schools destroyed; Thousands of homes raised to ground; 40% population displaced from homes. 
FATA: Quick Facts
FATA is "Federally Administered Tribal Area" of Pakistan; consisting of 7 Agencies and 6 F.Rs; with a 27000 Sq Km area and 4.5 m population.
FATA extends from Bajaur Agency in the north (near Chitral) to South Waziristan Agency in the south (touching Balochistan). In between Bajaur and South Waziristan lie Mohmand Agency, Khyber Agency, F.R Peshawar, F.R Kohat, Orakzai Agency, Kurram Agency, F.F Bannu, North Waziristan Agency, F.R Lakki Marwat, F.R Tank and F.R Dera Ismail Khan.
FATA has an around 1000 kilometers long border with Afghanistan on the western side and its nearly 4.5 million population is divided into dozens of tribes and hundreds of sub-tribes/Khels. Afridi, Mohmand, Tarkalani (Mamund & Salarzai), Utman Khel, Orakzai, Turi, Bangash, Wazir (Utmanzai & Ahmadzai), Mehsud, Dawar, Bhittani and Sherani are the major tribes of FATA.
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The Warrior Tribesmen
FATA tribesmen have a long history of resistance against oppression and invaders. Few examples from the previous century are worth mentioning
  • Umara Khan's battles against the British in Malakand, Dir and Chitral (1890s)
  • Anti-British Uprisings of Malakand, Bajaur, Khyber, Tirah, Waziristan in 1897
  • Armed struggle of Mullah Powindah against British throught 1890s & 1900s.
  • Armed struggle of Babara Mullah (Bajaur), Chaknawar Mullah (Bajaur), Chamrkand Mujahideen (Bajaur/Mohmand), Haji Saheb Turangzai (Mohmand) throughout 1910s, 1920s and 1930s
  • Waziristan anti-British Uprisings in 1919-20
  • Faqir Ipi's anti-British Uprisings in Waziristan from 1936-37 to 1947.
This tells us how the people of the tribal areas have always reacted to aggression and how they have always indulged in resistance against use of force.
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The Loyal Pakistanis
The same fiery tribesmen who kept the British on their toes throughout their rule were tamed by a peace+humbleness gesture of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. At the Bannu Jirga with Jinnah in 1948, tribal elders from all FATA tribes voluntarily announced accession to Pakistan. Tribesmen did so inspite of opposition of Jamiat-e-Ulema and the propaganda of "Azad Pakhtunistan" and "Loy Afghanistan" by the erstwhile Congress-allies.
Jinnah trusted the tribesmen's loyalty; announced withdrawal of armed forces from FATA and designated the tribesmen as the defenders of the 1000 km long border with Afghanistan.
The first test of the tribesmen's loyalty to Pakistan was around the corner soon as word of a war in Kashmir reached the tribal areas (1948). Calls for Jehad were made by tribal elders (and while Pakistan Army was in confusion due to disagreements between Jinnah and Army Chief General Gracy), the tribesmen led the charge on Dogra-led Kashmir. It was the poorly armed but zealous tribal lashkars that won Pakistan what is today called Azad Kashmir (AJK).  
The tribesmen and their homeland FATA (from Waziristan to Bajaur) remained peaceful for the remainder of the 20th century under Pakistan's rule. Although the law used to rule FATA i.e. FCR was a draconian one and although the bureaucracy in charge of FATA was the most corrupt in the whole Pakistan, the tribesmen never caused any trouble.
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The American-Sponsored Jehad 
Then came the year 1979. Afghanistan was invaded by Soviet forces and millions of Afghans migrated to Pakistan, most settling in the tribal areas. An international campaign led by United States was launched to root out Soviet forces from Afghanistan. Funded by CIA (yes the good-old CIA) and Arab Sheikhs; the Afghan, Arab and other fighters were trained and dispatched to Afghanistan to fight the RED BEAR. Tribesmen from Waziristan to Bajaur were told that this 'Jehad' against the bad infidel invaders (Russians) is Farz and that the Arab/Afghan fighters are Mujahideen and the tribesmen's Guests.
Tribesmen believed what they were told by the good infidels (Americans) and their Pakistani frontmen. The tribesmen took part in the war against Soviets and finally dispatched the bad infidels across Amu.
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FATA: History comes Full-Circle
From 1989 to 2001, the world forgot Afghanistan, Pakistan, FATA and the mess the world had jointly created. Then one fine morning (or may be evening) the tribesmen were told that their guests were actually international terrorists responsible for 9/11 and that they needed to be handed over to the good infidels (who ironically were now invaders of Afghanistan). 
The tribesmen were confused (rather shocked) as to how the invasion of Afghanistan by bad infidels was bad and that the same act by good infidels is good. 
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Back to Stone Age
In the meanwhile drones, fighter jets, helicopter gunships, heavy artillery, tanks (and bulldozers too) started their work in FATA.
Entire villages were raised to ground, their inhabitants were made homeless; shops, schools, orchards, mosques were destroyed and FATA was literally sent to the Stone-Age by the enlightened moderate Commando. 
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Collateral Damage and Revenge
The indiscriminate use of force, both by Pakistani military and the Americans had exactly the effect that could be imagined by any sane mind, given the tribesmen's centuries old history of resistance to any oppression. Every collateral death gave rise to a dozen militants and the chain reaction started. Foreign agencies (especially those of our eastern neighbour friend) started capitalizing on the popular tribal sentiment. Fuel was added to the fire by the notion that it is Americans who fund every bullet and artillery shell fired in FATA by the military (via Coalition Support Fund reimbursements).
Indoctrinated suicide bombers blinded by their revenge instinct started hitting every icon and symbol of Pakistan's authority, from pro-Pakistan tribal elders to police, FC, Army, Airforce and Navy. While everyone in Pakistan sees the deaths in these suicide bombings through the media's eye, the original sufferers i.e. the tribesmen remain away from the limelight. Their sufferings are taken for granted and their pains considered a fruit of their own sins. But is that all? Can an entire region of 4.5 million people be stereotyped like that? (Pakistani pseudo liberals are very good at that BTW).
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Imran Khan's Peace March - When, Where & How
On 14 July 2012, during a rally in Peshawar, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan announced a "Peace March" to the drones-hit Waziristan. Some people say the destination announced was North Waziristan and that Khan later changed it due to fear (LOL. Khan & Fear). However, in reality Imran Khan never mentioned which Waziristan will the intended march go to. (Proof: Tribune Article - 14 July 2012; Video: Imran Khan Peshawar Speech announcing the march - 14 Jul 2012)
Later in August, the party announced further details of the proposed march, saying the peace march will be held on 6-7 Oct 2012, towards South Waziristan.
A few days back, party sources confirmed that the peace march will reach Tank (on the border of South Waziristan) on 6th October. The march participants will then move into South Waziristan on 7th October. The march will end in a Jalsa (public gathering) in the town of Kotkai in South Waziristan.
During the march, families of drone victims will meet the media and journalists and the world will be able to get the fist-hand knowledge of Waziristan's sufferrings. 
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WHY South Waziristan?
Waziristan is by far the most important and the most well-known of all the tribal areas. Administratively Waziristan is divided into two agencies i.e. North Waziristan and South Waziristan. North Waziristan is inhabited by the Dawar and Utmanzai Wazir tribes while South Waziristan is home to Mehsud, Ahmadzai Wazir, Burki and Bhittani tribes. 
South Waziristan, although only a small piece of the bigger jigsaw puzzle called FATA, yet it has its own specialty when it comes to the American-imposed-now-Owned-by-Pak "War Of Terror" and resultant sufferings of tribesmen. It was South Waziristan where the first military operations (post-9/11) were carried out by our military. It was again South Waziristan where the killer birds known as drones commenced their killing spree. The first known drone strike in FATA was the one that killed militant commander Nek Muhammad Wazir in Wana (South Waziristan) in 2004. South Waziristan is also the birthplace of most high-profile militant commanders like TTP-founder Baitullah Mehsud, current TTP-chief Hakeemullah Mehsud, Suicide Bombers mentor Qari Hussain Mehsud, TTP 2nd-in-Command Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud among others. It was South Waziristan where all the scattered militant groups sat together leading to foundation of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the 2nd half of 2007, after the Lal Masjid operation.
South Waziristan is the area whose inhabitants were displaced from their homes as a result of Operation Raah-e-Nijat in Octobver 2009. Today, after 3 long years, almost 80% of the displaced South Waziristanis have yet to return to their homes. These people are living in pathetic conditions in Tank, Dera Ismail Khan and other areas while nobody is willing to own them. Remember the people of Swat were displaced only for 2 months and the whole world flocked to their aid but these South Waziristani tribesmen have been ignored by the Govt as well as by UN and foreign NGOs.
p.s: A personal reason for Imran Khan may be that his mother, late Shaukat Khanum, belonged to the Burki tribe of Kaniguram, South Waziristan. Imran Khan has visited South Waziristan before, to meet the people of his maternal ancestral relations.
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WHY a "Peace March" for the Wild Tribesmen
Though there are no confirmed statistics about the tribesmen killed, disabled, injured or displaced due to drone strikes and military operations; even mild local estimates put the toll in the thousands. Similarly thousands of houses, shops, orchards, schools etc have been destroyed over the past decade or so. There are areas where kids have not gone to school for years now. There are no hospitals, no electricity, no telephones etc etc.
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Civilian Victims of CIA's drone attacks in FATA, Pakistan
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Such a great number of extra-judicial killings / casualties and such a vast destruction in any other part of the world would have rocked the international media scene, however, poor tribesmen seldom get a sympathetic view in the Pakistani or international media. The dominant narrative in the media is the one that portrays us, tribesmen, as blood-thirsty wild man-eaters who don't want a peaceful living, who do not need schools for their kids, who do not need hospitals for their diseased, who do not need jobs for a living and who kill for the sake of killing (which BTW is not true at all).
There are three major reasons for this wrong narrative on Waziristan.

  • A section of media (albeit a powerful one) is strongly biased in favour of the American narrative about the War Of Terror
  • All news of killings of militants and the supposed effectiveness of drone campaign come from anonymous sources in the American or Pakistani establishment / intelligence. Such news are at best as much neutral as was German propaganda in WW-II. 
  • Nobody has access to the affected areas and the independent media has never been allowed to see or reflect the real facts about the drone campaign and sufferings of the tribesmen in the true sense.
Neither the UN, nor the Pakistan Govt nor the western-funded NGOs nor the so-called human rights activists (Asma Jehangir fame) nor the pseudo-liberal Twitter Gurus ever tried to sympathize with the tribesmen, to hear their woes, to offer them a helping hand, a healing touch of sorts. Nothing, never. (BTW whenever we, tribesmen, hear the pseudo-liberals cry over the excesses committed on Baloch people by the "Deep State", we wonder if we are not humans too? Why nobody ever sees our sufferings? Is human rights a selective phenomenon? A Pashtun tribesmen being killed illegally by drones is okay but a Baloch being killed is human rights abuse?).
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Message for Imran Khan: "We love you"
We are proud that its our leader Imran Khan who is doing what the civil society or the custodians of law and justice or the pseudo-liberals should have been doing. And guess what? Let alone doing something themselves, the liberals (a.k.a Drone Apologists) even have the guts to challenge and bash Imran Khan over the peace march. Latest is a piece by a part-time PPP Jiyala, honourable Brig (R) Asad Munir)
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References: 
"A brief profile of FATA" 
"Tribes of FATA"
"Mamund Uprising against the British Raj (1897)"
"FCR - Frontier Crimes Regulations"
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Disclaimer: This blog is not an official PTI webpage and is run by a group of volunteers having no official position in PTI. All posts are personal opinions of the bloggers and should, in no way, be taken as official PTI word.
With Regards,
"Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf FATA Volunteers" Team.


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