Freedom convoy for pakistani gaza: S.O.S from shias

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SOS from D.I.Khan. Why has Police and Army failed to protect Shias in D.I. Khan?

January 28th, 2009Sarah KhanLeave a commentGo to comments
D I Khan bomb blast
Wednesday, January 28, 2009

So attuned have we become to living in an age of violence that we now barely seem to notice acts of terror unless they kill a significant number of people. Indeed these incidents often barely make it into the news. Human life it seems has become increasingly dispensable. Murder no longer moves us. The cycle bomb blast in the town of Dera Ismail Khan ranks as a minor incident by our standards. Only six people died. This no longer counts as a high number. But the unexplained incident is an example of the regular, almost constant violence that we now live amidst. There seems to be no escape from it.

There have as yet been few studies of the impact this violence has on people. The fact is though that fear is now a part of life. Everywhere, people tend to avoid public places that they believe could be targeted by terrorists. The kinds of lives we lead have changed. The question is whether anything can be done to ensure that these changes do not become permanent ones. Incidents such as that at D I Khan are reminders of the challenges we face. So far, when such blasts or acts of other random killings have taken place in the past, we have seldom received information as to who carried them out, or why. This failure to bring people to any kind of justice only adds to the insecurity and air of uncertainty that exists everywhere. It has created a sense of trauma that exists in many places, despite the resilience of people accustomed to fending for themselves. But the fact is that as the situation continues to worsen, fewer and fewer are able to do so. The poor, such as those who died in the latest act of random terror, are the most vulnerable, the most likely to be killed in bazaars, in the streets or in other places. The state must move in now to protect these people and re-establish its role as an institution able to bring order to the lives of its citizens. (The News)
 

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Parachinar: Pakistan's Gaza Strip remains under siege by Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba

March 27th, 2010Abdul NishapuriLeave a commentGo to comments


The following news item in Dawn today (27 March 2010) forced me to post this rather lengthy compilation of events. First the news item:

Six kidnapped truckers found dead in Thal
Dawn, 27 Mar, 2010

PESHAWAR: Police on Saturday found the bodies of six truck drivers who were kidnapped a few days ago in a restive northwestern town, officials said.

The drivers were shot dead and their bodies were found in Thal district, local police official Abdul Rehman told AFP.

"A letter found in the pocket of one dead truck driver said that if anyone supplied goods to the Parachinar Shia community, he will be treated like this," Rehman said.

Parachinar, the main town of Kurram tribal district, is a sectarian flashpoint where activists from the rival Shia and Sunni Muslim sects have clashed in the past.

A police spokesman confirmed the incident, but did not identify the suspects, saying an investigation was in progress.

Shias account for about 20 per cent of Pakistan's Sunni-dominated population. The two communities usually coexist peacefully, but more than 4,000 people have died in outbreaks of sectarian violence since the late 1980s.

Attacks by extremists, meanwhile, have killed more than 3,100 people since July 2007. Most attacks are blamed on the Pakistani Taliban.

Separately, militants early Saturday blew up a boys' middle school in Alingarh village of Mohmand tribal district, where troops are hunting Taliban militants, local administration chief Amjad Ali Khan said. Taliban militants have destroyed 36 government school buildings in Mohmand since 2009.

Only three weeks ago, on 5 March 2010, terrorists of Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba hadattacked a Shia convoy travelling to Parachinar, killing at least 14 women, men and children. Here is a picture of a child victim of that attack:

http://criticalppp.org/lubp/archives/6785

Here is a brief background of Parachinar and the blockade faced by its more than half a million population.

Parachinar and its siege

Parachinar, the capital of Kurram Agency, FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) of Pakistan, remains under siege by the Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba for the last three years. Parachinar is situated on a neck of Pakistani territory south of Peshawar, that juts into Paktia Province in Afghanistan and is the closest point in Pakistan to Kabul and borders on the Tora Bora region in Afghanistan.

The main road that connects this remote area to Peshawar and the rest of Pakistan has been effectively blocked for almost three years by certain jihadi and sectarian outfits, i.e., Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba. Any one from Parachinar who tries to travel through this road is attacked and literally slaughtered.

To get their daily supplies of food and medicine, the people of Parachinar are forced to take the longer route to Peshawar which requires crossing the Afghan border.

The cost of daily supplies and travel to other parts of Pakistan has therefore multiplied five to six times.

The Afghan route is not very safe either. On several occasions, the passengers from Parachinar have been abducted and killed by the Afghan Taliban. T

The Pakistani state has to a large extent turned a deaf ear to various appeals requesting security and emergency supplies to Parachinar. Rogue elements within the state institutions (e.g. ISI) are actively backing the criminals (Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba) in their protracted, low-scale ethnic cleansing of the Parachinar people.

Parachinar: The Valley of Death
By Ali Jawad

Tucked away between soaring snowy-peaks and deep gorges in the fragile north-western region of Pakistan is the tiny town of Parachinar.

Humbled by towering snow-tipped mountains and covered by endless fruit orchards, Parachinar's natural charm is breathtaking. Its narrative for the last two years however, has been anything but reflective of the serene beauty of its surroundings.

Strangled by recurring sieges laid on the town by the Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba, and a plight concealed from the consciences of the outside world by a silent media, the lives of Parachinaris have been a tale of untold suffering.

Since early 2007, Taliban insurgency has gripped the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which holds Parachinar, and the surrounding North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) leading to the deaths of hundreds. Even more have been left homeless and without means of sustenance with homes and local businesses regularly torched down just because their owners happen to fall under the wrong "sect", i.e., Shia, who are considered infidel by extremist Deobandis and Wahhabis. Despite the periodical nature of sectarian violence in these regions, the unrelenting wave of the recent outbreak has been by far the bloodiest in recent memory.

Shias represent a majority of the population in Parachinar constituting over fifty-percent (50%) of the population. They also have a considerable presence in neighbouring towns in the north-west, e.g., in Kohat, Hangu and D.I.Khan.

During the rule of General Zia-ul-Haq, the Kurram Agency (which hosts the town of Parachinar) came under increased focus for its strategic location as it provided the shortest route from within Pakistan to the Afghan capital, Kabul. Jutting out into Afghanistan almost like an island peninsula, it was famously nicknamed the "Parrot's Beak" by US forces during the Soviet-Afghan War and was regularly used as a launching-pad by American-backed "jihadists" to strike out at the Soviets. As a result of this strategic importance, towns in the FATA region were flooded by inflows of Wahhabist and Salafist anti-Soviet "jihadists" well-known for their hatred towards Shias.

Following on from the early and comparably minimal killings unleashed in 2007, armed Wahhabi groups have since caved in on the local Shias of Parachinar from all sides. The Shia residents of Parachinar have repeatedly claimed that Wahhabi elements from Afghanistan have joined in the attacks against the town's Shias, but these cries have been met by deaf ears in Islamabad's Pakistani central government.

An all-out attack against the Shias of Parachinar has been underway for a long time now; even Sunni locals seen to be "friendly" towards Shias have not been spared in this maelstrom of killing. Gruesome images of beheaded and mutilated bodies, with arms and legs chopped off from corpses, have surfaced on the Internet since the outbreak of violence. Such showings of utter barbarity are not altogether unique. The collective massacres of Hazara Shias in next door Afghanistan – more notably in Mazari Sharif in 1998 where during a 48-hour period over 8,000 Hazaras were mercilessly slaughtered – evoke similar images of ruthlessness. By the end of the killing spree then, corpses littered the streets of the city after express orders were given out by the Taliban government for the dead to be left unburied.

Eerily reminiscent of massacres conducted against Afghan Shias in the recent past, Riaz Ali Toori, a villager from Parachinar, protested in a letter to a Pakistani daily:

"Today Parachinar is burning: daily bodies of more than five beheaded persons reach Parachinar. The situation of Parachinar is getting worse day by day and so is the life of all people living there. It's a matter of great sorrow and shock that Pakistan, in spite of bringing Fata into the mainstream of the country, has been pushed into fighting a continuous war and facing terror." (Letters to the Editor, The Dawn, April 08 2008)

Surprisingly, at a time when the "civilized" world is on a so-called offensive against "terror", coverage of the sorrow-filled plight of Parachinaris within western media has been periodical at best. The reasons for this are unclear. May be it is because Parachinar, fatefully, does not sit over barrels of oil.

In July of 2008, the New York Times ran a piece highlighting the rise of "sectarian conflict" in Parachinar. By then, the town had already been subject to a siege that had spanned for months; food and medical supplies had been in severe shortage after the main Thal-Peshawar highway leading to the town was blocked off by armed groups.

The New York Times article carried the story of Asif Hussain, a Sunni driver, in a relief convoy headed for Parachinar; the convoy was ambushed, and its drivers taken captive. Asif Hussain was let off after convincing his captors that he was Sunni, the other eight drivers were not as lucky. (Power Rising Taliban Besiege Pakistani Shiites, New York Times, July 26 2008)

Today, the Taliban / Sipah-e-Sahaba led violence against Shias has spread out over a larger radius extending all the way through to the southern tips of the NWFP and the rest of the country. Attacks on Shias in Kohat, Hangu, Dera Ismail Khan, Peshawar, Chakwal, D.G. Khan, Quetta and Karachi have become a norm.

The systematic targeting of followers of the Shia sect in various regions of Pakistan, more specifically in the north-west of the country, amounts to nothing other than a project of ethnic cleansing.

According to a reputed scholar of the phenomenon of ethnic cleansing, Drazen Petrovic, he defines it as such:

"ethnic cleansing is a well-defined policy of a particular group of persons to systematically eliminate another group from a given territory on the basis of religious, ethnic or national origin. Such a policy involves violence and is very often connected with military operations. It is to be achieved by all means, from discrimination to extermination "¦"

The above definition provides an almost perfect fit to the present situation of Shia in Pakistan, particularly in Parachinar. If international silence continues as it has over the last three years, the same story will have repeated across many towns in the FATA, NWFP and all over Pakistan.

That the Pakistani government, Pakistan Army in particular given its persistent patronage of and links with Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba, holds principal blame for its failure to restrain the killings is indisputable and goes without mention. Wider global apathy to an ongoing project of ethnic cleansing however, is certainly not comprehensible and deserves a great deal of mention.

Parachinar deserves better. And the people of Parachinar certainly deserve better. The least we can do is speak out and urge our leaders to press the Pakistani government to bring an immediate end to these massacres. Then, and only then perhaps, can it be said that we have extended a hand to the forgotten victims of Parachinar.

Ali Jawad is a political activist and a member of the AhlulBayt Islamic Mission (AIM); http://www.aimislam.com/.

Source: Counter Currents, 2009

Locals cry for freedom from militants in Kurram
'Pakistan's Gaza Strip' under siege for three years

By Mumtaz Alvi

The News, March 24, 2010

Most recently, on 23 March 2010, the inhabitants of Kurram Agency have appealed to the government (read Pakistan Army) to come to their rescue in the face of long-continuing siege, militants' (Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba) barbarism and economic blockade of their region.

Though an open letter, representing the over 0.5 million population of the agency, several locals of Turi and Bangash tribes through e-mails, have sought the government's intervention to rid them of the militants, who were after them to implement their diabolical agenda.

"Through this open letter/petition, we, half-a-million population of Kurram Agency, Fata capital Parachinar and surroundings, want to draw the attention of the government, media and civil society towards inhuman behaviour being meted out to us on our own land in the form of siege and economic blockade since April 2007, has converted the paradise-like valley into a Gaza Strip," they said.

They wondered why the state apparatus was helpless in dealing with a very small number of militants and why it lacked the ability to also open the road permanently. They noted through Voice of Parachinar (Parachinar-based website) if Swat and other areas, infested with militants could be cleared, why not the Kurram Agency?

The valley is located on the Pak-Afghan border. The inhabitants have to risk their lives while coming to other parts of Pakistan, as they have to do this via restive Afghanistan. Many of them have lost their lives in the bid during the last three years. The main road leading to the agency is blocked.

"The real challenge to the government is how to permanently make the Tall-Parachinar road secure at least for vehicular movement. But unfortunately, this has not been done so far," said Hasan Gul Ishrat, who last visited Parachinar in November 2007. He said only a few days back, a suicide bomber hit a convoy, escorted by the FC personnel, again ringing alarming bells, for those who either wanted to visit their families in Kurram Agency or planned to come out of the under siege valley.

Sajid Hussain Turi and Munir Khan Orakzai, the two MNAs are from Kurram Agency, from NA-37 and NA-38, respectively. They too have not been able to freely visit their constituencies, let alone carrying out development works there. They have raised the issue on the floor of parliament several times and also brought it to the notice of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, but the situation by and large remains unchanged.

Hasan Gul noted the Kurram Agency was divided mainly into Turi and Bangash tribes — Turis were Shias, whereas Bangash Sunnis, but unfortunately, both were hostages and suffering at the hands of the Taliban.

The residents feel that if it was difficult to take on the militants on ground, they could be effectively dealt a decisive blow by helicopters or jets. They have even offered to lead security forces in hunting down the militants.

A journalist from Parachinar, who is Islamabad-based, Ali Hussain Turi, talking to The News requested to the government to launch a decisive action to cleanse the Kurram Agency of militants on the auspicious anniversary of 1940 Resolution. He said that making the main road safe for public could provide the desperately-needed relief to the people of the Kurram Agency and this ultimately could lead to ending its occupation. Ali's parents, brothers and sisters have also been under siege in Parachinar for the last three years.

Source: The News



Call for Help

The humanitarian crisis in Parachinar demands urgent action. We can't afford to sit idle and wait for our army generals and government ministers to attend to their responsibilities. Thousands of people are literally on the verge of death. The objective of the protracted, low-scale ethnic cleansing is to drive them out of their ancestral lands and to provide a safe haven for terrorists of Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba. The brave people of Parachinar have been able to defend themselves for many years now. But their capacities are nothing compared to the organized terror machinery of their opponents. Their plight is indeed desperate. In the name of God and in the name of humanity, please come forward and help your brothers and sisters in need.

What YOU CAN do!

Educate yourselves and people around you about the situation.

Organize prayers, vigils, and workshops in your localities (school campus, public libraries, Friday prayers, mosques and community centers, embassies and press clubs). Prepare large posters with images and concise information.

Write op-ed columns and letters to your local and national newspapers with an informed perspective. Also write to your governments and local and international human rights groups. Hold poster and letter writing sessions in your communities.

Demand that the Pakistani army and government ensure the protection of all of its citizens. It should immediately end the blockade of the Peshawar-Parachinar route. The government should set up an independent commission to investigate the complicity of state officials and intelligence agencies. They should also estimate the level of damage and compensate the victims duly.

Generate emergency funds in your localities through donation and public service. Establish these funds as part of a regular project (with a target amount to be generated each year) to help victims of oppression in various parts of Pakistan and elsewhere.

As you help these victims with basic humanitarian aid (food, medicine, shelter), also empower them for the longer term by establishing and supporting sustainable development projects, relating to education, health, media/communications, micro-financing, and community building.

Keep up with the latest developments in Parachinar and other affected areas in Pakistan.

Lastly, in any assessment or condemnation of crimes against the Parachinar people, especially in the international media, it is important to hold accountable not only the front-end Taliban forces, but also the hidden hands (ISI, CIA, Saudi Arabia) that created and promoted them over the years and that continue to use them to advance their political and economic interests. Focusing purely on the Taliban conceals the crucial role of the bigger powers in this game. These very powers can also effectively control these criminals. Therefore, these powers should be the main target of international pressures. Merely denouncing the Taliban without denouncing the powers that originated them and for whose interests they are still working also leads to a kind of misperception in the eyes of the world that the problem is with Islam and its teachings.
 

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Iran to probe into Parachinar 'genocide'

Sat, 07 Feb 2009 11:31:18 GMT
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Pakistani Shias lie on the road in protest at the killing of their brethren in sectarian violence in the Kurram tribal region.
A report to the Iranian parliament has cited grave human rights abuses against Shias in the northwestern Pakistani city of Parachinar.

Lack of government control over the highly sensitive border areas of Kurram Agency, the capital of which is Parachinar, has lead to an increased Taliban presence in the area.

Local Pakistani media reported last week that Taliban-linked militants in Parachinar, Hangu district and much of the Kurram tribal agency have during the last six months been engaged in sectarian violence and have killed 25 to 30 people on a daily basis.

Military forces based in the areas usually avoid the violence which has caused uproar in the territory bordering the Tora Bora region in Afghanistan, the media report said.

The National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of the Iranian Majlis (parliament) has received a report on the situation in Parachinar.

"The report provides evidence of a humanitarian disaster in that region, which unfortunately due to the crisis in Iraq and Gaza has not garnered media coverage," Iranian lawmaker Heshmatollah Falahat-Pisheh told Tabnak on Saturday.

Falahat-Pisheh affirmed that the parliament would investigate the "genocide" through relevant international agencies.

"We are pressuring international human rights organizations to dispatch fact-finding missions to the area," he added.

Taliban militants have launched deadly attacks against the enclave of Shiites settled in Parachinar and have blocked road routes to the city since April 2007 when sectarian violence between Shias and Sunnis broke out after provocative remarks by a Wahhabi against historical Shiite figures.

The Taliban sided with the Sunni majority in the country, imposing an ongoing 20-month blockade which has caused serious food shortages.

The Pakistani government has on various occasions dispatched relief convoys loaded with food and medicines to the area, but most supplies are confiscated by the militants and the drivers are killed or kidnapped.

In a recent incident, the militants beheaded a police officer on Thursday and kidnapped four Shia Muslims on their way to Parachinar.

"Taliban militants beheaded a policeman and kidnapped four Shias in Tal, a town 45 km northeast of Miranshah," a security official told the European strategic intelligence and security center last week.

The grave situation has also prompted the leading Shiite figure of Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, to issue a ruling -- known as a fatwa -- encouraging all Shiites in Pakistan to do what they can to help their "brethren" in Parachinar.

"Pakistan says it cannot control the situation in the area, but this is a lie, they have got troops inside Parachinar but the population are better off without them," Hussein Ali Shahriyari, another Iranian lawmaker, said.
 

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Iranian cleric slams Pakistan silence over Parachinar events


An Iranian grand religious leader Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi criticized Pakistan's government silence on crimes against Shiites in Parachinar, Pakistani northwestern city.

Pakistan should support its people, Parachinar is a part of Pakistan, but the government has remained silent while the genocide in that area is even worse than the one which occurred in Gaza Strip, he said.

Wahhabis, Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist groups are killing Shiites in that area; they have beheaded 600 people and cut the hands of women and children, he continued.

He then called for Iran's Foreign Ministry to make international organizations aware of crimes in Parachinar and ask them to dispatch a group to look into the crimes.

Parachinar has been sealed over 10 months and foodstuffs and medicine has not arrived there, he added.

He then said the media should make their best to make the world aware of these crimes.

According to reports, lack of Pakistani government control in Kurram Agency, the capital of which is Parachinar has resulted in Taliban's raised presence in that area.

Also Taliban devised a deadly attack against Shiite enclave in Parachinar and have blockaded the city since April 2007 after sectarian violence in that city due to Wahhabis comments on historical Shiites figures. An Iranian grand religious leader Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi criticized Pakistan's government silence on crimes against Shiites in Parachinar, Pakistani northwestern city.

Pakistan should support its people, Parachinar is a part of Pakistan, but the government has remained silent while the genocide in that area is even worse than the one which occurred in Gaza Strip, he said.

Wahhabis, Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist groups are killing Shiites in that area; they have beheaded 600 people and cut the hands of women and children, he continued.

He then called for Iran's Foreign Ministry to make international organizations aware of crimes in Parachinar and ask them to dispatch a group to look into the crimes.

Parachinar has been sealed over 10 months and foodstuffs and medicine has not arrived there, he added.

He then said the media should make their best to make the world aware of these crimes.

According to reports, lack of Pakistani government control in Kurram Agency, the capital of which is Parachinar has resulted in Taliban's raised presence in that area.

Also Taliban devised a deadly attack against Shiite enclave in Parachinar and have blockaded the city since April 2007 after sectarian violence in that city due to Wahhabis comments on historical Shiites figures.
 

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Ayatullah Makarim Shirazi: Tragedy worse than Gaza waiting to happen in Pakistan

Posted by Sohel Ajani on March 31, 2009 at 4:57pm
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Ayatullah Nasir Makarim Shirazi, one of the top ranking Maraji' Taqleed in Hawzah Ilmiyyah Qum, said:

Taliban, Al-Qaida and extremist Wahabis have committed a massacre in Parachinar Pakistan that is worse than Gaza. They have beheaded 600 hundred people, cut off hands of women and children.

Honorable Marja' made these remarks in the beginning of his Dars-e-Kharij of Fiqh in Masjid-e-Azam, Qum where he strongly criticized the silence of Pakistan government in the face of crimes against Shias of Parachinar and said:

Why is the Pakistan government sitting idle and watching this happen? Is Parachinar not part of Pakistan? Pakistan government, which has a duty to defend its people, is not helping its own people and a genocide is taking place before its eyes.

Explaining the fact that the crimes of Al-Qaida, Taliban and the extremist Wahabis is the same as the crimes of Israel, he added:

It is clear that they are aligned with Israel because whatever happened in Gaza has repeated in the worse form in Parachinar.

The eminent Marja'-e-Taqleed voiced his complaint to the foreign ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the National Television for their lack of reporting and lack of confronting these genocidal acts saying:

Negligence of Pakistan government, careless attitude of Foreign Ministry and the Media has resulted in the spread of these massacres.

Hazrat Ayatullah Makarim Shirazi said:

Just as we raised our voices loudly about the crimes the people of Gaza, we should also scream and yell in support of people of Parachinar because Foreign Ministry and Official Media have remained silent and do not speak about these inhuman acts.

His Eminence added:

Foreign Ministry must awaken the international organizations to these tragedies and demand from them to send teams to investigate the crimes committed in Parachinar.

His Eminence continued:

It has been 10 months that the area of Parachinar has been besieged and permission has not been granted to deliver food and medicines.

The Ayatullah emphasized:

These news reports must reach the public through the mass media, and we hope that Allah (swt) will soon take revenge of the oppressed from their oppressors
 

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Thrown to the wolves —Tayyab Ali Shah


The Taliban accepted the Turi surrender with the condition that tribal elders would be loyal to the Taliban, would dismantle the current lashkar, would never raise another anti-Taliban lashkar in the area again and would support the Taliban's efforts in implementing Shariah

The more than half a million forsaken people in Kurram Agency continue to bear the brunt of sectarian violence, increasing Talibanisation and apathy of the Pakistani government. Though the people of Kurram are no strangers to sectarian violence, they have never seen so much long-lasting bloodshed since the creation of Pakistan. Previous sectarian clashes that would occur every five to seven years never lasted for more than two to three weeks, as the tribal leaders and Pakistani government would always intervene. But the situation has taken a nasty twist since the arrival of the Taliban in the area three years ago, and 3,100 people have been killed since July 2007.

Pakistani authorities have, so far, failed in controlling the persistent violence and have failed in opening the major Parachinar-Peshawar road on a permanent basis. This road has remained closed for the last two years except when heavily escorted food convoys travel on it. Even these convoys are not safe. In the first week of March, a fleet of food trucks and some buses, escorted by security forces, was attacked by suicide bombers, killing 14 and injuring another 25 people. In the last week of March, six truck drivers who were returning from carrying goods to the Shia communities of Upper Kurram, were kidnapped and killed by the Taliban. A letter found in the pocket of one dead driver warned that anyone supplying goods to the Parachinar Shiite community would meet a similar fate. Similarly, a military vehicle on its way from Tal to Parachinar was hit by an IED in the third week of April, killing four paramilitary personnel and injuring another five.

In this situation, the Shiite community, as a whole, and some Sunni tribes like the Mangal in Upper Kurram find it extremely difficult and risky to move out of Kurram Agency. Shias cannot travel outside the agency through the Tal-Parachinar road connecting Kurram Agency with Peshawar as it is controlled by the Taliban. There are no PIA flights to the only airport of the area, located in Parachinar. There is only one four-seater private jet that charges Rs 10,000 for a quick flight from Parachinar to Peshawar and potential passengers have to wait for at least one month to get a seat on it. Both the Shia and Sunni people of Kurram Agency have to travel through war-torn Afghanistan to reach Peshawar and other parts of Pakistan. There is a severe shortage of life-saving drugs and the basic commodities needed for everyday life. Even if some items are available, they are extremely expensive. Many government servants have gone unpaid for the last two years and some have even committed suicide because of the difficult life and lack of financial resources.

Many natives of the Kurram Agency blame state policies regarding Afghanistan for the death and destruction in their area. According to them when the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) strengthened its posts on the border with Waziristan in 2006-07 — after the Pakistani government signed peace accords with the local Taliban — al Qaeda and Taliban fighters tried to pass through the Kurram Agency to cross over into Afghanistan; Kurram providing the shortest route to Kabul. The Turi tribe and other Shias declined to give passage to the Taliban through their area and complained to the local authorities who, unfortunately, did not take any action. The Taliban attacked the Turi to punish them for their refusal to provide them a safe passage, an act that has led to the current dire situation of the Turis. Both Shia and Sunni elders also hold government officials responsible for contributing to the ongoing tensions in Kurram, particularly in Parachinar, the capital of the agency. Shia elders assert that two political agents of the area asked them to facilitate the Taliban's movements or be ready for the consequences.

To defend themselves against the Taliban, all of the Kurram tribes have established their own lashkars (tribal militias), but these lashkars are no match for the better-financed, well-armed and well-trained Taliban. On March 20, 2010, Taliban forces attacked the Masozai tribal lashkar to avenge the death of 12 of their colleagues who were killed a day earlier when the lashkar attacked the convoy of Taliban commander Mullah Toofan. After several hours of fighting in which 15 persons were killed and around 20 were injured from both sides, the local tribal lashkar was left with no option but to surrender to the Taliban. The Taliban accepted their surrender with the condition that the tribal elders would be loyal to the Taliban, would dismantle the current lashkar, would never raise another anti-Taliban lashkar in the area again and would support the Taliban's efforts in implementing Shariah. After these guarantees and promises, Mullah Toofan freed 22 hostages taken from the Masozai lashkar.

There is an urgent need for the government of Pakistan to take effective action and help the people of Kurram live a peaceful and non-violent life. The people of Kurram are trying to help themselves through the creation of peace jirgas and lashkars but their resources are too meagre to create any durable peace, or fight the Taliban. They feel betrayed by the state. It is high time that the state of Pakistan intervenes in favour of the people who have suffered too much for too long.
 

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In Pakistan it is not enough to be Muslim to escape persecution on the basis of religious affiliation as belonging to a minority Muslim sect like the Shia can still get you persecuted.

In Parachinar an economic blockade has been imposed by those belonging to the majority Sunni Muslim sect against the minority Shia Muslim sect with violators of the economic blockade such as the below truck drivers being exterminated:

Six kidnapped truckers found dead in Thal

Saturday, 27 Mar, 2010

PESHAWAR: Police on Saturday found the bodies of six truck drivers who were kidnapped a few days ago in a restive northwestern town, officials said.

The drivers were shot dead and their bodies were found in Thal district, local police official Abdul Rehman told AFP.

"A letter found in the pocket of one dead truck driver said that if anyone supplied goods to the Parachinar Shia community, he will be treated like this," Rehman said. "¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦

Dawn
 

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In Pakistan, a Shia-Sunni war to oust Taliban




Nirupama Subramanian



According to Shia leaders and independent analysts, the Taliban control the Sunni tribes in Kurram and want to battle the Shias until they have control of the region.

— Photo: AFP

Pakistani Shia Muslims shout anti-Taliban slogans during a protest in Karachi on Monday.

Kurram is not the average tribal area on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The Pashto-speaking population has higher literacy rates than in the other six agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Area. Even a Pakistan government internet site on Kurram expresses surprise that "a significant" number of people from the region are employed abroad. But perhaps the most important difference is that Kurram is the only tribal region in FATA with a significant Shia population.

The almost equal numbers of Shia and Sunni — each sect claims it is the majority — in a region with an estimated population of over 500,000 never made for an entirely peaceful place. But since April 2007, Kurram has been the scene of one carnage after another. Hundreds have been killed in sectarian fighting in the last 17 months, and all attempts to broker ceasefires have failed. The reason, according to Shia community leaders and independent analysts, is that Taliban militants now control the Sunni tribes and want to battle the Shia until they have control of the entire agency for additional access routes into Afghanistan.

Last weekend, Kurram exploded once again. The Shia Turi tribe called a unilateral ceasefire five days earlier, but the Sunni Bangash kept attacking Turi targets. On Sunday, the Turi retaliated with a powerful attack in the predominantly Sunni Lower Kurram, on the Bangash stronghold of Bagzai. The ensuing battle left over 100 dead in two days. Over 400 have been killed in the region since the beginning of August, and according to unofficial estimates, the number of dead since April 2007 is over 1,500.

After the fighting, six Sunni tribes called a unilateral ceasefire, but the Shias say they do not trust the announcement. "There have been so many ceasefire announcements. Making peace is not in the hands of the Sunni tribes anymore. They have come under the thumb of the Taliban, and they have to do what the Taliban ask them to do," Ali Akbar, secretary-general of the Anjuman Hussainia, a Shia community group in the predominantly Shia Parachinar, the main town in Kurram, told The Hindu. According to him, the Taliban wanted to convert Kurram into "another Waziristan or Bajaur," but the Turi would not let them. "We were forced to take action in Bagzai, and we have cleaned up the place," he said. But, he said, the Taliban had several other strongholds in Lower Kurram.

Allama Jawwad Hadi, another Shia leader in Parachinar, said the Shia tribes would not accept any truce call by the Sunni tribes unless it was accompanied by guarantees that they will not give room to the Taliban. "[The Sunni tribesmen] have to pledge that they will not allow the Taliban into their villages, that they will not give any more opportunities for the Taliban to make their own strongholds here, or to launch attacks on the Turi. Only then there can be peace in Kurram," he said. According to him, the Turis were the only force that was preventing the Taliban from taking over Kurram, which they wanted "to use for their activities."

"Kurram shares borders with Afghanistan on three sides. This is why the Taliban want control of this agency. From here, there are so many routes they can use. The Sunnis must accept the leadership of the Turi because only they can stop the Taliban," he said.

The present troubles in Kurram date back to April 2007, when according to a Parachinar journalist who did not want to be named, the Sunnis took out a rally in the main town at which, for the first time, they raised slogans against Hussein, the Shia martyr. Three days later, when the Shias took out a rally in protest, gunmen fired at them; 80 people died.

A suicide attack in August punctured an uneasy truce but the fragile peace held until November, when fighting broke out once again in Parachinar, a Shia-majority town. A week of clashes left some 100 people dead, with the Shias simultaneously "cleansing" the town of Sunnis. The government's token efforts could not stop the fighting. Since then, Parachinar has been cut off from the rest of Pakistan. Sunni tribes have blockaded the road link from the town to the NWFP capital, Peshawar.

"Now to go to Peshawar, we must first cross into Afghanistan, and then cross back into Pakistan. The journey by car costs Rs.7,000 and takes two days. When the road was open, an express bus could take us in two hours," the Parachinar journalist said. Military aircraft have ferried some stranded civilians to and from the town but the service is erratic.

Since the first week of August, the town has gone without electricity. Diesel, smuggled in from Afghanistan, costs Rs.100 a litre and medicines are in short supply. Traders bringing in medicines and food supplies from Afghanistan are charging sky-high prices. A 100-kg bag of atta costs Rs.5,500 — more than double the price in the rest of the country.

In June, militants attacked a convoy of trucks that was transporting food and medicines to Parachinar near Pir Qayyum in Lower Kurram. They burnt several of the trucks and killed 12 truck drivers. Independent analysts say the Taliban started moving into Kurram when the Pakistan security forces began military operations in other tribal agencies and in parts of the NWFP such as Darra Adam Khel and Hangu.

"The Kurram issue is basically sectarian, and the Taliban have weighed in on the side of the Sunnis. They are trying to gain control of a small triangle of land [in Kurram] because it gives them an alternate route into Afghanistan," said Brigadier (retd.) Mahmood Shah, who used to be Secretary FATA, the senior-most government official administering the tribal areas. Brig. Shah said the Taliban were thwarting all attempts at brokering peace between the two communities. Those familiar with the area also spoke of the presence in Kurram of a large number of "external elements" — cadres from banned Punjabi-dominated outfits such as the Sipah-e-Sahaba, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, who had joined hands with the Tehreek-e-Taliban.

There have also been allegations that Iran and Afghanistan are assisting the Shias with money, manpower and weapons. A group called the Reforms Committee of Parachinar told journalists in Peshawar recently that the two countries had supplied two Shia militant groups with large quantities of medicines, mortar launchers and other weapons. Brig. Shah said the area involved was so small, and the government's priorities in the region were so many that thus far, it was being treated as a "local issue," even though the political agent, the official in-charge of the agency, had been knocking at the doors of the federal government for help. The government deployed the Frontier Corps in the region two weeks ago, but that had no effect on the fighting.

"If the government can apportion some force — a brigade would do — it can bring the area under control," he said adding that presently, security forces had only a "token presence" in Kurram. But he also stressed the need for an overall policy to tackle militancy in the entire region, and following up on that, an area-specific policy. "There is a need to put pressure on all sides, and then take up operations on priority," he said. Otherwise, the former official said, when the security forces hit in one place, the militants would simply set up camp in another, as in Kurram.
 

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PAKISTAN : Fresh Shia-Sunni Violence in Kurram Agency



by B. Raman

"Al Qaeda is trying to replicate Iraq in Pakistan by exacerbating the already existing divide between the Shias and the Sunnis in the civil society as well as in the Army." --- Extract from my earlier paper of November 15, 2007, titled "The State of Jihadi Terrorism in Pakistan" at http://www.saag.org/papers25/paper2459.html

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Till 1977, the Shias were in a preponderant majority in the Kurram Agency in Pakistan's Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on its border with Afghanistan and in the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) of Jammu and Kashmir, which is presently under Pakistani occupation.

2. After the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in February, 1979, there was a radicalisation of the Shias of these areas. They started demanding the creation of a separate Shia majority province to be called the Karakoram Province, consisting of the Kurram Agency, the Northern Areas and other contiguous Shia majority areas. The leadership of this movement came mainly from the Turi tribe of the Kurram Agency. The movement was allegedly funded by the Iranian intelligence.

3. Gen. Zia-ul-Haq put down this movement ruthlessly. He also started a policy of re-settling the Sunnis in these areas in order to control the Shias and dilute their preponderant majority. While Sunni ex-servicemen from other parts of Pakistan were re-settled in the Northern Areas, Afghan Sunni refugees from the refugee camps were re-settled in the Kurram Agency. This led to widespread resentment among the Shias against the Government as well as the Sunni settlers. The Iraqi intelligence too allegedly funded these Sunni settlers in the Kurram Agency to enable them to fight the radical Shias.

4. There were serious riots in Gilgit in 1988 which were ruthlessly put down by Zia with the help of a combined force of Sunni tribals and Arabs led by Osama bin Laden. Hundreds of Shias were killed. It is generally believed that the anger caused by this massacre contributed to the death of Zia-ul-Haq in a plane crash in August 1988. Enquiries into the crash reportedly brought out that the crash took place when a Shia airman belonging to Gilgit released tear-smoke or some other gas in the cockpit, thereby disorienting the crew.

5. The Kurram Agency has also been the scene of frequent Shia-Sunni clashes, with most of the attacks by the Shias directed against the Afghan and Pakistani Sunni settlers brought in by Zia. There were three major Shia-Sunni clashes in the Agency in 1983, 1988 and 1996, which resulted in the deaths of a total of 1,200 persons belonging to both the sects.

6. There was a recrudescence of the violence in April, 2007, after a gap of 11 years. For nearly three weeks from April 6, 2007, the Kurram Agency became the scene of a no-holds barred jihad waged by the local Shias and Sunnis against each other following an incident of firing allegedly by the Shias on a procession taken out by the Sunnis to mark the Holy Prophet's birthday. The local adherents of the two sects of Islam used not only small arms and ammunition, but also mortars and rocket-launchers against each other, resulting in heavy casualties. The clashes initially started in Parachinar, the capital of the Agency. It then spread to the interior areas. The imposition of a curfew by the Pakistani authorities and severe action against the local leaders and volunteers of the two sects ultimately restored an uneasy normalcy. The Pakistan Army extensively used helicopter gunships to put down the violence.

7. There were conflicting figures of the fatalities inflicted by the two sects against each other and by the security forces on the warring sects. While the Pakistani authorities estimated the total number of fatalities as around 50, non-Governmental sources estimated that at least 80 persons died in the violence.

8. During the clashes of April, 2007, the local leaders of the two sects accused the Pakistani Army of siding with the other sect. Some Sunni leaders also accused Iran of fomenting the Shia attacks against the Sunnis in order to teach Pakistan a lesson for allegedly allowing the USA's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to use the Pakistani territory for destabilisation operations against Iran.

9. Addressing the media at the Peshawar Press Club on April 9, 2007, Mast Gul, a Sunni jihadi leader, alleged that since April 6, 2007, Shias had killed hundreds of innocent Sunnis. According to him, just on one day about 28 Sunni women and children were slaughtered in the Kurram Agency. He accused Iran of providing financial resources and weapons to the Shias in the Agency. He also alleged that Iran had given shelter to Baloch nationalist leaders and was helping them. He warned the Pakistan Army that if it did not take effective action against the Shias, he would appeal to the Sunnis in the other parts of Pakistan and in Jammu and Kashmir to come to Kurram and help the local Sunnis.

10. Mast Gul used to belong to the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), which is a founding member of Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front (IIF) formed in 1998. He used to operate in J&K till 1995. He and his followers were responsible for the burning down of the Islamic holy shrine at Charar-e-Sharief in J&K in 1995.

11. Since violence instigated by Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda Sunni tribal elements escalated in South and North Waziristan in October, 2007, there were reports of fresh tension in the Kurram Agency in the wake of reports that the jihadi terrorists loyal to Osama bin Laden were targeting the Shia members of the Frontier Constabulary and the Frontier Corps deployed in these two Agencies. It was alleged that while the terrorists brutally killed the captured Shia soldiers, they let free the Sunnis. Some of the Shias beheaded by the terrorists belonged to the predominantly Shia tribe of Turis in the Kurram Agency. Some Shia leaders of the civil society in these two agencies were also targeted by pro-Al Qaeda elements and killed.

13. These incidents have led to a fresh outbreak of violence between the Shias and the Sunnis in the Kurram Agency since the night of November 15, 2007. Despite the imposition of a curfew by the Pakistani authorities and the use of helicopter gunships to quell the riots, violence continued for the fourt consecutive day on November 19, 2007. It has been reported that the fighting has been more fierce than in April, 2007, and that about 100 persons, including 11 members of the para-military forces, have already died in the violence.

14. Police sources suspect that the fresh violence has been engineered by Al Qaeda in order to divert the attention of the Pakistan army from its on-going operations against the jihadis in the Swat Valley.
 

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"Patterns of Persecution" - The Friday Times(subscription)
The attacks on two places of worship in Lahore are not isolated incidents of violence against the Ahmadi community. For some time now, members of the Ahmadi community have been considered fair game by extremist elements that thrive on hate speech. Ahmadis have been victims of abuse under blasphemy laws, targeted killings, and other forms of violence and discrimination since the introduction of anti-Ahmadi laws by the Zia-ul Haq regime in 1984.

Friday's attacks are shocking not only because of the high number of casualties, but also because they expose the state's inability to perform its primary duty; protecting the right to life of its people. While that duty extends to protecting the lives of everyone in the country, Ahmadis deserve specific protection measures on account of being the most vulnerable community in Pakistan.

Since the April 1984 anti-Ahmadi legislation, 106 Ahmadis have been murdered, on account of their religious beliefs prior to the bloodshed of May 28, 2010. This figure also includes 18 Ahmadi doctors. The number of people convicted for those killings is in single digits. 47 Ahmadis were killed on account of their beliefs during the 1999-2007 regime of General Pervez Musharraf.

On 19th of May 2010, an Ahmadi was shot dead in Karachi. In April 2010, three others were murdered in Faisalabad. Another Ahmadi was murdered in Narowal on May 31, 2010.

In January 2009, five Ahmadis, including four children, were charged with blasphemy under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) in a village of Layyah district in Punjab. Only timely police intervention foiled an attempt by members of a banned organisation to torch the houses of the Ahmadis in the village. A fact-finding mission of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) found that the five Ahmadis were detained without any proof or witnesses. A prayer leader in the village had allowed Ahmadi students from a nearby tuition centre to offer prayers in his mosque. The students were later threatened by a government school teacher and never went to the mosque again. Around 10 days later, some villagers claimed finding blasphemous writings in the mosque's toilet. In the First Information Report, the complainant stated: "Since these Ahmadis are the only non-Muslims coming to the mosque, therefore they must have committed the offence." The local police officer also argued: "A Muslim cannot even think of doing something so derogatory. The Ahmadis were the only non-Muslims visiting the mosque. Therefore, it has to be their work." The accused were released on bail after six months and were subsequently acquitted in April 2010.

In July last year, activists of Sunni Tehreek, blocked the main Sheikhupura highway in Faisalabad district to pressurise police to register a case against 32 Ahmadis, of village 194-RB, on the charge of writing Quranic verses on the outer walls of their houses. They ended the protest after assurances that a case would be registered. Police subsequently registered a case under sections 295-A and 295-C of the PPC.

In June 2009, rioters attacked and desecrated an Ahmadi graveyard in Pir Mahal, Toba Tek Singh district. The authorities subsequently cancelled the allotment order for the land given to Ahmadis 20 years earlier.

As many as six Ahmadis were murdered because of their faith and over 100 booked under blasphemy and anti-Ahmadi laws in 2008. Those booked included Ahmadi children as young as 8, for being on the mailing list of an Ahmadi children's magazine.

In the most alarming example of hate speech, an anchorperson of a popular Urdu TV channel talked about the 1974 amendment to the Constitution, which declared Ahmadis non-Muslim, in a prime time discussion on September 7, 2008. The show ended with the anchor declaring the Ahmadis Wajibul Qatl (liable to be killed) because they do not believe in the finality of prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). On the following day, September 8, an Ahmadi doctor, Abdul Mannan Siddiqui, was shot dead in Mirpur Khas, Sindh. On September 9, another Ahmadi, Seth Muhammad Yousuf, was assassinated in Nawabshah district of Sindh. No action was taken against the TV channel or the anchorperson.

In early June, a mob of 300 college students beat up Ahmadi students at the Punjab Medical College in Faisalabad, and ransacked their hostel quarters. The medical college rusticated 23 Ahmadi students on the report of a disciplinary committee. It was alleged that they were preaching and distributing Ahmadi literature. The students suffered harassment and interruption in their studies for several months before being allowed to resume their education.

Social boycott, ostracism and hate campaigns against the Ahmadi community through wall-chalking, posters, stickers and pamphlets have frequently been reported in villages and major cities.

Unfortunately, all evidence points to more attacks targeting Ahmadis in the future. The Ahmadi worship place in Model Town had received repeated threats from extremists throughout 2009. HRCP had asked the Punjab government to ensure security for the Ahmadi community centre in Model Town.
Code:
Year  Murdered on account of religious beliefs  Booked under blasphemy law    Booked under Ahmadi-specific law's 

2007                     5                                              22                             24



2008                    6                                               30                             76

2009                   11                                               37                             57

2010(to date)          91, including 85 killed in two terrorist attacks on May 28
Attacks on May 28 demonstrate that even advance warnings may not be effective in ensuring the safety of the targets because terrorists can afford to bide their time. Security measures alone cannot address the threats faced on account of religious beliefs by Ahmadi and other communities. Progress in addressing that threat is unlikely unless the State confronts the growing intolerance and extremism in the country.
 

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Parachinar: the valley of massacre


Parachinar was once paradise on earth but it has been burning in the fires of terrorism for years. The prices of commodities have sky-rocketed, poverty has made life hellish, and hospitals lack medicines and facilities. All roads leading out of the area are blocked and there is little communication with the outside world. Life has been paralyzed.

The entire area is rife with aggressive sentiments in response to extremism – revenge, rebellion and sectarianism. Situations like this can cause revolutions that have the potential to shake even stable countries.

Nine years in to the war on terror and tensions in Fata have not abated nor have any big wig terrorists been caught. As a result the geographically important frontier region, which has always been key to the security of Pakistan, is at great risk. People here are unable to cope with this situation any longer.

People sometimes ask me, "Is there no issue other Fata? Why do you persistently write on the same subject?"

I bow my head, as my eyes fill with tears and whisper:

"What is new for me? All my pains, wounds, troubles and grievances are elderly and infinite. My area has been facing these circumstances for decades and nothing can guarantee it strength. How can I conceal my sighs while my hometown is in a permanent war of sectarianism and terrorism? My alma mater, the hospitals where my illnesses were cured, the college where I studied, the roads on which I have travelled, the springs from where I quenched my thirst with clean water, the rivers in which I swam and caught fish, the valley where I heard the melodies of birds, the hills and meadows where my cattle grazed, and everything that nurtured my childhood and youth – everything that was exquisite – my area is now bruised and stained with the blood of innocent people. How can I breathe peacefully?"

I ask for nothing more than the rescue of human life, peace and tranquility in Fata and fundamental rights which human beings enjoy in civilised democratic societies. This is what is for my hometown and in each town of the area.

The people of the tribal areas will never pardon Ziaul Haq, a heartless and spiteful dictator who turned their serene area into a breeding ground for terrorism producing armed combatants for prepared fot merciless slaughtering. Prior to him, the people in FATA lived with their precious culture and friendly traditions, strange as they may be. They had great enthusiasm for advancement and modernization. But the military dictator planted hatred in their hearts by setting up terrorist camps there in the name of so-called jihad or holy war.

The authority terrorists have gained in the area of Charpi Morr, Totkasa, Tor Ghar, Sadaa tehsil (of the lower part of Kurram Agency) and in Hangu, can be gauged by the fact that the Thall-Parachinar road has been hazardous for residents of Parachinar for the last three years. They have often come under attack in Afghanistan and on the Thall-Parachinar road.

Time and again men, women and children from Parachinar have been attacked, kidnapped and tortured. Whenever these terrorists kidnap people, they torture them ruthlessly by cutting off their noses, ears, limbs and feet prior to beheading them after which they either throw the bodies in to open fields or send them back to their hometowns. When the people of Parachinar receive the mutilated dead bodies of their near and dear ones they become aggressive and violent. Consequently, the area comes under continual war of sectarianism. Clashes between residents of Parachinar and the Taliban have resulted in thousands of casualties with irreparable damage to the basic infrastructure of this earthly heaven.

Roads out of Parachinar have been blocked for the last three years and whenever they do open some calamity takes place. The Toori tribe has diplomatically and repeatedly raised the issue before the government but so far nothing has been done.

It would seem that the present government is uninterested in Parachinar even though both Shaheed Z.A Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto loved the area and its people. They both personally visited Parachinar as Prime Minister's of Pakistan and initiated progress and stability programs in the area. Before her martyrdom Benazir Bhutto had affectionately promised locals that she would make Parachinar a heavenly place to live once again.

The PPP government is making amends with Balochistan through the Aghaz-e-Haqooq Balochistan package. It is addressing the vulnerabilities of women and the poor through the Benazir Income Support Program and has brought the country on the path to democracy with the 18th amendment. It had empowered the people of Gilgit-Baltistan with the tremendous Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009.

Now, it is time the Government of Pakistan take essential steps for the rehabilitation of the tribal areas – ignored for 63 years, the people face miserable conditions and lack basic human rights. These people believe that only the Pakistan People's Party can comprehend their tribulations and take up their cause.

Every day, terrorism worsens with no possibility of light at the end of the tunnel. The government must take immediate action for the rescue of Parachinar as the area is at the edge of geographical risk.

The Pakistan Army continues fierce measures, in Swat and throughout the tribal area – similar needs to be taken against miscreants around the Thall-Peshawar road. The army is highly valued and esteemed by the people of Parachinar and is always greeted warmly in the valley for the peace process and protection they offer the surrounding border.

The people of Fata have fought, shoulder by shoulder with the Pakistan Army in every war of Pakistan. These are not tribesmen who are launching attacks, killing innocent people and fighting against the army but miscreants and terrorists.
 

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Parachinar residents


With victims of militancy dotting the length and breadth of the country, it is difficult to measure who has suffered the most. But if such a measure were possible, the residents of Parachinar in Kurram Agency would certainly come near the top of the list.

On Saturday, 11 Parachinar residents were killed in Afghanistan — cut down by bullets fired by militants with a sectarian hue. The only reason the hapless victims were in Afghanistan is because the route on the Pakistani side, the Thall-Parachinar way, is closed to them for regular, everyday travel. The reasons are complex — as far back as 1982 dozens of Shia families from Sadda in lower Kurram were forced to relocate to Parachinar — but suffice it to say that the violence in recent years is intimately linked to the rise of the TTP. (In April and November 2007, TTP-led local Sunni militants razed several villages, attacked nearly 100 places of worship, forcibly dislocated a couple of thousand families and killed scores.)

The result? The Thall-Parachinar road was closed to Shias and the Shias blocked the Sunnis from upper Kurram from using the Parachinar road. The area was cut off from the rest of the country, causing immense hardship to the people of the area. An operation to clear the area of militants was launched by the security forces in September 2009 and last week it was announced that 80 per cent of Kurram Agency had been 'cleared' of militants. While the Thall-Parachinar road has been reopened, it is still a dangerous route: convoys guarded by security forces are attacked frequently. In any case, the quantum of traffic allowed on the road presently is still low, forcing residents of Parachinar to continue to use the Afghan route.

So what can be done now? For one, the security on the Thall-Parachinar road needs to be stepped up — the more secure it is, the more residents will feel it is safe to use. The attacks in Afghanistan suggest a disturbing trend of cross-border collaboration between militant groups; Parachinar locals should not be left at their mercy. Two, the other forms of connectivity with the rest of Pakistan, such as mobile phones, needs to be re-established at the earliest. With the information link severed, it is difficult to know where help is needed the most. Third, and perhaps most important, the Murree agreement signed between the warring tribes in Kurram Agency in October 2008 needs to be implemented quickly. Compensation claims and resettlement issues head the list of measures that need to be acted on. The people of Parachinar have already lost three years; they should not be forced to lose any more.
 

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Unite from Parachinar to Karachi



Years ago, when in my hometown Parachinar and in other tribal areas, malicious actions were initiated by inhuman terrorists against innocent and peace-loving people, I had written an article titled "Let think for Pakistan". At the time, I hadn't imagined that this article would be momentous and significant even years later. But unfortunately, today Pakistan is confronted with more miserable conditions than before.
We are in a quagmire of socio-economic and security problems set against a backdrop of ethnic and religious intolerance. From Parachinar to Karachi, the lives of human beings are at great risk. The terrorists have pushed Pakistan into a blind street where only political reconciliation, wisdom and unity with persistence in fighting terrorism can prove beneficial. Fortification through diplomatic wisdom has never been as pressing a need for Pakistan as it is today. There were no uncertainties that the allies of the "War on Terror" would fail and this would hurl Pakistan into a political mire.
I had told the government of that time that a spark of terrorism from the tribal areas could overtake the whole country soon if fierce action combined with wise strategy was not adopted against the miscreants in disparity to the strategy of combating USSR as we had a most terrible experience of the so-called Jihad against USSR.
Had the think tanks inside Pakistan chalked out a wise strategy with future planning, today there would have been no adverse impact on our society. At present, "War on Terror" has turned Pakistani streets into a breeding ground of terrorism. Terrorists got their strength in the worst days of dictatorship when public will, country constitution and state institutions had been rendered worthless and those who mattered in the country were busy in salvaging the one-man illicit regime. Today the entire nation is paying a heavy price for the dirt spread by two oppressors Zia-ul Haq and Musharraf.
Today tribal areas are breeding grounds of terrorism; life of mankind is hellish there due to the presence of terrorists in their soil. But, Tribesmen are braver and more spirited than the government of Punjab in challenging and condemning terrorists and terrorism. No tribesman nowadays has a soft corner for terrorists and no tribesman is convinced by their propaganda that they are doing everything for the well-being of Islam. Shoulder to shoulder with Pakistan Army, they are fighting against the terrorists.
Millions of Pakistanis in Parachinar - the upper part of Kurram Agency – live in a human rights free zone where they have no legal protection are subject to abuses by the Taliban on Thal-Parachinar Road. Millions of people are effectively living under the Taliban in lower part of Kurram Agency, Hangu and adjacent areas of the Thal-Parachinar Road.
On July 17, 2010 19 innocent passengers from Parachinar including 9 women have been brutally killed by terrorists on this road near Hangu. Hitherto more than 250 men, women and children are gun downed very maliciously on this road by Taliban.
Earlier to this incident, 106 tribesmen killed in a suicide bomb blast in Mohmand Agency outside Agency Political Agency office and many killed in a suicide blast in Mingora Swat. A non-stop genocide war against the poor, oppressed and ill-fated tribesmen has continued over a decade.
Let us take some obligatory and immediate steps for saving Pakistan and making it a peaceful part of the globe by uprooting extremism, targeting sources of terrorism, fierce actions against banned organizations, condemning those political powers abetting banned organizations and giving up any double games over the issue of terrorism and extremism.
Tribesmen want severe measures against the miscreants and criminals who have unlawfully captured their earthly paradise and made their lives miserable. Tribal people will remain steadfast in ridding their home towns of the enemies of humanity.
R.A. Toori
21 hours ago
 

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Let's think about Pakistan – by Riaz Ali Toori



Years ago, when in my hometown Parachinar and in other tribal areas, malicious actions were initiated by in human terrorists against innocent and peace-loving people, I had written an article titled "Let think for Pakistan". That time I hadn't even imagined that this article would be momentous and significant even years later. But unfortunately, today Pakistan is confronted with more miserable conditions than before.

Pakistan is in a quagmire of socio-economic and security problems in a backdrop of an environment of ethnic and religious intolerance. From Parachinar to Karachi, life of human being is at great risk. The terrorists have pushed Pakistan into a blind street where only political reconciliation, wisdom and unity with persistency in fighting terrorism indefatigably can prove beneficial. Fortification through diplomatic wisdom has never been such a pressing need of the hour for Pakistan as it is today. None had ever thought that bloodbath of innocent people would continue for decades. There were no uncertainties that Allies of "war on terror" would fail and this war would hurl Pakistan into political mire.

One had craved that soon the land would become a piece of paradise and everyone in the world would breathe peacefully. There would be no killing and beheading of innocent people, no devastation of towns and terrorism laid to rest forever. No one had expected that for punishing one Saddam, one Osama, one Mullah Omar and a group of religious fanatics involved in killing of many innocents, millions of people would lose their lives and settlements would be razed to the ground.

I had told the government of that time that a spark of terrorism from the tribal areas could overtake the whole country soon if then fierce actions with wise strategy was not adopted against the miscreants in disparity to the strategy of combating USSR as we had most terrible experience of so-called Jihad against USSR that had brought the ongoing sectarian clashes, spread of weapons and drug mafia in Pakistan.

Had the think-tanks inside Pakistan chalked out a wise strategy with future planning, today there would have been no adverse impact on our society. At present, "war on terror" which so far could neither defeat terrorism nor establish peace in the world has turned Pakistani streets into a breeding ground of terrorism. Terrorists got their strength in the worst days of dictatorship when public will, country constitution and state institutions had been rendered worthless and those who mattered in the country were busy in salvaging the one-man illicit regime.

Musharaf was putting forth all his energies for prolonging his anarchic reign. He had no nervousness for growing terrorism, extremism, culture of intolerance, unemployment, poverty, energy and food crises. A group of turncoat politicians abetting him copiously was associated with him. Closely united together, they had no concern either with the future of Pakistan or its poor and oppressed public. Today the entire nation is paying a heavy price for the dirt spread by two oppressors Zia-ul Haq and Musharaf.

If one wants to differentiate between democratic and anarchic society, the socio-economic, political and security situation of Pakistan, studying the epochs of The Zia-ul Haq and The Musharaf would be quite enough for it. No one had even envisaged that mosques would be blown up, population of minorities would be set on fire as in Gogra, charismatic leader like Benazir Bhutto would be assassinated and atrocious actions against minorities like attack on Ahmedi's worship place could ever take place, followed by a more frightening assault on the emergency ward of Jinnah hospital.

No one inside Pakistan is secure either inside home or in places of worship, in public places or even in hospitals. So far hospitals, schools, colleges, universities, mosques, worship places, public parks, markets, political and religious processions have all been attacked in Pakistan. A horrible picture of the Pakistani society emerges before the world.

Today tribal areas are more peaceful than any district of Pakistan even if there is no law and order situation. Tribesmen are braver and more spirited than the government of Punjab in challenging and condemning terrorists and terrorism. No tribesman nowadays has a soft corner for terrorists and no tribesman is convinced by their propaganda that they are doing everything for the well-being of Islam. Shoulder to shoulder with Pakistan Army, they are fighting against the terrorists. Tribesmen want severe measures against these miscreants and criminals who have unlawfully captured their earthly paradise and made their lives miserable.

Tribal people are persistent in ridding their hometowns of the enemies of humanity. On the other hand Shahbaz's Government clearly seems reluctant to take action against the banned sectarian and Jihadi organizations operating in Punjab. If Punjab government continues this policy of cowardice or affiliations with terrorist organizations, the day is not far away that Punjab would become the main focus of terrorism and then it would be too late to deal effectively with situation.

Immediately after the Lahore incident in which dozens of Ahmedi worshippers were massacred, the Governor Punjab Salman Taseer told media that due to strong ties between PML-N and some banned organizations such incident are occurring in Punjab. He issued a similar statement when in the by-election PML-N allied with SSP in district Jhang.

A news report has affirmed a secret report based on data collected from southern Punjab that a number of banned groups are functioning constantly to recruit fresh cadre from the poverty stricken, illiterate and unemployed youth of the region. These things are cause for concern for the brighter future of the country's socio-economic and political scenario.

The image of Pakistan has been tarnished around the world and if any terrorist incident occurs in any part of the world, its roots are searched for here. Pakistan is receiving serious threats from US and international community because of escalating terrorism. Investors around the world are not willing to set up their business inside Pakistan. So far Pakistan and allies of "war on Terror" could not even find the elements that are financially supporting terrorists inside Pakistan, as President of Pakistan stated a few days back.

The common man is thinking that allies of "war on terror" seem to be non-serious in the elimination of terrorisms leading to destabilizing Pakistan. The threats of attack on Pakistan is pressuring the country and weakening the morality of Pakistani government in beating terrorism. The US has adopted a fleeting attitude over war on terror. On one hand Pakistan is confronted with gigantic socio-economic problems and infinite security threats and on the other, the International Community, especially the USA are causing problems for its stability instead of appreciating and facilitating Pakistan's efforts. The new US maneuver of attacking Pakistan could badly affect the process of combating militancy in tribal areas and in other parts of the country while deeply hurting the sentiments of Pakistanis as a whole.
 

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Terrorists attack Wana seminary, Kurram jirga


WANA / PARACHINAR: Thirty-two people, a former parliamentarian among them, were killed and at least 42 others injured in two terrorist attacks in tribal areas on Monday.

In the South Waziristan town of Wana, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the seminary of Maulana Noor Mohammad, former MNA of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) from Fata, killing the cleric and 24 others, local people said.

Thirty-six people were injured and five of them who had suffered critical injuries were airlifted to Rawalpindi.

An eyewitness said Maulana Noor Mohmmad was about to leave the Jamia mosque near Wana bazaar after Zohr prayers when a boy in his teens approached him to shake hands.

At that moment a huge blast took place. The mosque was badly damaged. People rushed to the seminary to rescue the injured and retrieve bodies from the rubble.

Official sources said the head and legs of the suicide bomber had been found.

Maulana Noor Mohammad was elected to the National Assembly in 1997 from South Waziristan.

He was an influential figure and brokered several deals between Taliban militants and the local administration. He was reported to have opposed the presence of Uzbek militants in the tribal region.

Our correspondent in Parachinar adds: Seven people were killed and six others wounded when an improvised explosive device planted near a government school exploded at a time when a jirga of elders of Khomasa area of Kurram tribal region was in progress.

The jirga was held to sort out a dispute between two groups over the ownership of the school. The powerful blast made a three to four feet crater.

The Assistant Political Agent of Kurram said the blast might have been caused by a time-bomb.

An eyewitness reported seeing thick smoke billowing from the place after the explosion and people running towards the area. Seven bodies lay on the ground while the injured cried for help.

Administration personnel cordoned off the area and launched search operation. No group claimed responsibility for any of the explosions till Monday evening.
 

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Fighting between tribes in Pakistan kills 102


Friday, 17 Sep, 2010

PARACHINAR: A Pakistani police official says fighting between two tribes near the border with Afghanistan has killed 102 people over the last two weeks.

Jalil Khan says 48 people died on Friday in the dispute over access to water in the Kurram region.

There have been frequent bouts of deadly tribal and sectarian fighting in the region over the last few years.

Khan says one tribe consists of minority Shia Muslims while the other is Sunni.
Kurram and other parts of the border region are also home to Sunni Islamist militants and al-Qaida.


Some reports from the remote region have said the militants may have a role in the conflict.
 

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