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EDITORIAL: South Waziristan is the birthplace of Pakistani Taliban. Over the years while the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) extended its sway over most of the tribal belt the Wana-based Taliban leadership succumbed to military action jointly carried out by Pakistan and the United States and ceased to be operational, and normality tiptoed to South Waziristan.

Wana, the capital town of Waziristan, regained its business activity and residents of South Waziristan voluntarily merged into the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to be part of national mainstream.

But in return they didn’t receive what they had expected, a feeling that is now on display in Wana. For the third day on Sunday, a large number of people, including workers of various political parties and members of civil society, are staging protest against the surge of militancy and lawlessness in KP in general and South Waziristan in particular.

Except Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which is in power in the province, all other parties are represented in the protest, which is on ground in the form of a sit-in during a very chilly winter. Theirs is a 10-point agenda. Carrying out white flags, they insist that their demands have nothing to do with provincial and national politics. They also want the government to facilitate trade activities through the Angoor Adda crossing-point with Afghanistan.

The chief minister and his cabinet colleagues in Peshawar have yet to respond, or even comment, on the demands of the South Waziristan protesters.

The only move so far on record is the talk by the Assistant Commissioner Wana, Yasir Salman Kundi, who said ‘all the demands of the protesters were genuine’. He also promised to spare no effort to fulfil their demands – even when he is nobody to accept these demands, which require intervention at the level of his higher-ups in Peshawar. Perhaps, the KP government is indifferent to the protests as it sees the protest through its political lens. But that is not the case on the ground.

Ever since the merger of the then Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with KP the tribal people haven’t received their due share in national and provincial economies. And that kind of deprivation tends to generate anti-state mindset. Therefore, the protest in Wana needs to be looked at in a broader national context. So rightly say the protesters that the poor law and order and rising militancy have created a sense of insecurity among the local people.

This is a rebuke to those who wrongly blame the unrest in South Waziristan on political manoeuvring by political parties who opposed the merger and wanted the tribal areas to retain their individuality. By ignoring the criticality of the protest against law and order in South Waziristan the provincial government is committing a Himalayan blunder, so to speak.

Somebody from Peshawar should reach out to protesters in Wana without any further loss of time in order to forestall the rebirth of TTP or birth of a TTP-like militant organisation or organisations. It is needless to say that previously, the State had to pay in blood to banish TTP from Wana.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Muhammad Kashif Jan 10, 2023 05:41pm
Very strange! The people of ex-FATA are highly WEAPONIZED. 1: Why these tribesmen are POWERLESS before the terrorists (once these terrorists were their GUESTS). 2: Why don't they take militarized action against the terrorists? 3: Are the tribesmen forget to run weapons? 4: Have their weapons become DYSFUNCTIONAL to combat the terrorists? My dear tribesmen! You CAN'T defeat the terrorists through the negotiations or protests. You must fight against terrorists in order to get peace. You must stop sheltering the terrorists. You must also shut down all doors of financial supports to the religious militants in the name of religion.
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