LARKANA: The threat of several dormant and active tribal clashes hangs like the sword of Damocles over the heads of residents of Larkana division. The gravity of the problem can be gauged from the fact that around 40 primary schools in Larkana district are closed because of the volatile law and order situation created by flaring up of these tribal clashes from time to time, according to the Society for Protection of Rights of Child (SPARC).
According to official records, currently there are 11 tribal disputes involving at least 22 tribes which are at daggers drawn. Out of these 11 clashes, five are currently ‘inactive’ but may erupt at any given moment of time leading to a whole phase of violence in the area.
The most troublesome area for Larkana division police is Kashmore district with five on-going clashes of Jakhrani v/s Bhayo, Sawand v/s Sabzoi, Jakhrani v/s Kandrani, Chachar v/s Bhayo and Sangi v/s Badani tribes.
According to the figures available at the office of the Larkana DIG, so far this year 147 people have been killed and 71 have been injured in these tribal feuds. A total of 1,478 tribesmen have been nominated in 151 cases lodged at different police stations across the division.
The police have arrested only 112 suspects while the remaining 1,141 are still absconding.
Though none of these clashes have been so far dissolved, but five of the ongoing 11 clashes were capped by the division police, said Larkana DIG Jawed Alam Odho while talking to Dawn.
Talking about the highly-flammable dispute between the Kalhoro and Lashari tribes in Bedi Lashari area, DIG Odho said that elders of both clans succumbed before the police pressure and agreed to bury the hatchet. “Once this area had been a ‘no-go-area’ for both the warring groups but now it has become peaceful because of police presence and will of the elders to resolve the issue,” the DIG claimed. “The guns have been silenced and soon complete peace would prevail.”
Talking about how tribesmen acquired weapons, DIG Odho said that arms were smuggled from the Sindh-Balochistan border. “For this we have established a border force in Jacobabad to plug the supply of illegal weapons,” he said. “But there is also a need to strengthen that border force and establish another to guard the Sindh-Balochistan border from Kambar-Shahdadkot district.”
Why this belt is especially prone to tribal disputes may have little to do with the fact that Larkana division borders Balochistan from the eastern borders of Kambar-Shahdadkot, Kandhkot-Kashmor and Jacobabad districts, with people from both Baloch and Sindhi descent living in these areas.
The root of the problem is that these warring tribes are often fighting somebody else’s war. A police official who has served in the kutchha areas of the province, megapolis Karachi and also the UN missions, explained that the landlords wielding influence over these areas did their part to keep the clashes alive for their own political gains. He said that since these waderas did not want to lose their grip over these tribes and clans living in their areas they fuelled clashes between them to continue to wield their influence over them.
Another aspect explained by the former law-enforcement official was that the fighting tribes were thus covertly or overtly supported by certain elements having say in the ‘quarters’ which mattered. Under such circumstances, he said, violating the law became a routine matter and the writ of local police eventually waned.
To solve these disputes, the official recommended using the traditional jirga, which he said was a democratic move since it brought both parties into a reconciliatory agreement with each other and also entrusted them with it.
He believed that sincere political will was the key to settling these clashes which had become nurseries for preparing a new breed of paid fighters, locally referred to as kandhi. He predicted that with the passage of time these paid fighters would also turn to petty crime and then make lives of residents even more miserable.
Recently senior provincial minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro while meeting divisional heads of revenue and in Larkana had expressed concern over the law and order situation, saying that the police was given a free hand to uproot crime.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali in his last visit to Garhi Khuda Bakhsh after his third induction as the province’s top official had made a vague declaration that maintaining law and order would be the top priority of his government.
But prime minister Nawaz Sharif had been most accurate in his promise of eradicating daku-raj from Sindh when he had been fervently campaigning in the province before this year’s election.
But it remains to be seen whether these promises would actually translate into pragmatic and across-the-board action for addressing these volatile mini wars which have been slowly eroding the social fibre of areas they are flaring in and hampering their social, economic and educational development.