Loyalty undertaking rankles IDPs returning to Waziristan

Published March 30, 2015
Pakistan Army officials and Political Administration officers receiving IDPs family on returning to their home. — APP
Pakistan Army officials and Political Administration officers receiving IDPs family on returning to their home. — APP

PESHAWAR: The people of North Waziristan have been required to reaffirm their allegiance to the Constitution, Frontier Crimes Regulation and local customs, by signing an undertaking under the “Social Agreement North Waziristan 2015”.

The agreement seems to be questioning the loyalty of around five million people of North Waziristan to Pakistan. In addition, the tribal people are also bound by virtue of the agreement to show loyalty to FCR, which means that they will never oppose the colonial-era law.

“Being responsible citizens of Pakistan, we will remain loyal to the country at any cost and will abide by the Constitution, FCR and customs. Moreover, we will play a positive role for the development, prosperity and security of Pakistan,” says the undertaking attached with the agreement.

“You will not become part of any action intended against peace and security of Pakistan and will prevent enemies of the state, Constitution and institutions or local and foreign terrorists from using your soil against the country,” it says.

Around one million internally displaced persons will have to sign the undertaking before returning to their homes. The people in Razmak and Datakhel subdivisions who were not evacuated in the wake of operation Zarb-i-Azb have also been handed over copies of the agreement and asked to sign it within three days.

The people of the tribal borderlands are used to reiterate their allegiance to the state whenever top dignitaries from president to political agent address a jirga.

But this time, signing the undertaking for showing loyalty to the state and Constitution is prerequisite for every displaced family of North Waziristan before returning home.

The eight-page social agreement, containing 18 main and 16 sub clauses along with the undertaking, has been handed over to the elders of Utmanzai Wazir, Dawar, Saidgi and Kherseen tribes of North Waziristan.

The displaced people are required to reaffirm their allegiance to Constitution before going home

The political agent on behalf of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor and federal government has been declared the first party and four major tribes of North Waziristan are second party to the agreement.

If a tribe fails in fulfilling its responsibilities mentioned in FCR, then the government will withdraw all incentives of the tribe or clan including cancellation of national identity card, passport and other documents. Their properties including houses would be confiscated or demolished or they will be barred from the area. The people would be responsible for maintenance of peace, security of the government bodies and action against anti-statement elements.

The government institutions have been given secondary role in this regard although according to the Constitution protection of lives and properties of citizens is the prime responsibility of the state. The people in Razmak and Datakhel areas have already received copies of the agreement. Mir Kalam Khan, a local elder, said that in the absence of political administration field commanders had asked people to sign the undertaking within three days otherwise there would be no supply of food rations for the local people.

“People are forced to sign the document which is very unfair,” he said, adding that senior officers of the army were holding jirga with the elders in Razmak, Dosali and Garyum.

The elders of four tribes, who had assembled in Bannu last week, opposed the agreement. They were adamant not to sign it. They wanted the government to take them into confidence before implementation of the agreement.

An elder said that another jirga was likely to be held to make a final decision in that regard. “The contents of the agreement are ridiculous which give impression that our children will not go to schools. People will always protect state properties only,” he said.

Senior government functionaries insisted that the agreement was based on FCR under which people were bound to fulfil their collective and territorial responsibilities. An official said that the agreement handed over to the tribesmen was not negotiable and compulsory for every family to sign it before going back to their area.

“The agreement has been framed within the framework of FCR which is law of the tribal area and no additional condition has been included in it,” said the official. He added that the IDPs, who would return to their homes in North Waziristan, had already signed the agreement. Return of the 18,000 displaced families would start within next few days.

The agreement says that there will be ban on heavy weapons and people will keep small weapons that will be registered with the administration. Another clause of the agreement says that protection of the government institutions will be responsibility of the tribes which has worried the local people. The tribes would set up peace committees in their respective areas to keep their soil free of anti-state elements.

According to the undertaking, if people fail in fulfilling their responsibilities then the government institutions will be at their liberty to take action against miscreants. The tribes would not claim compensation in case of damage occurred during the action.

Mir Kalam said that the government on the one hand was giving responsibility to the local people to maintain peace and set up peace committee to eliminate criminals while on the other hand they were being disarmed. An official clarified that tribesmen would have to bring activities of anti-state elements into the notice of administration and then the government would take action against them. “People don’t need to keep heavy weapons or fight against criminals. They will just inform the administration,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2015

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