PESHAWAR: The tribal elders of Kurram Agency and their Afghan cousins holding lands on both sides of the border have started negotiations to continue to force militants of Daesh and its affiliates out of their territory in Afghanistan’s Paktia province.

A source privy to these developments told Dawn that the elders of Turi in Kurram Agency and Zazi (Jaji), their cousin tribe in Afghanistan, were holding talks to build confidence to take measures for averting threat of Daesh and other groups in their areas.

The last meeting between the two sides was held at no-man’s-land near Borki village in Kurram Agency on April 4. The elders of both the tribes discussed situation arising after regrouping of militant groups suspected to be affiliated with Daesh (IS) on the Afghan side.

Turi and Zazi elders hold talks to take measures against militant groups in their areas

“Elders from both tribes have held four meetings and discussed threat from Daesh and other militant groups to people of Kurram Agency,” said the source.

The source said that a recent incident involving kidnapping of four residents of Kurram Agency was also discussed in those meetings. Armed groups, suspected to be affiliated with IS, were demanding Rs20 million for the release of the four kidnapped men.

In a related development, military commanders of Pakistan and Afghanistan have also held a border coordination meeting near Borki village, a notified Customs checkpost between the two countries, on Monday.

A security official confirmed the meeting. He said that regrouping of militants in Afghan areas close to Kurram Agency was also discussed in the meeting.

Kurram valley is one of the most sensitive tribal regions due to its strategic location since it shares border with three provinces of Afghanistan -- Khost, Paktia and Nangarhar. The area also has a violent history due to sectarian clashes in the recent past. It witnessed the worst clashes erupted in 2007 leaving thousands of people dead and wounded.

An official in the law and order department at Fata Secretariat said that intelligence reports suggested that threat from across the border existed to villages along the border in Kurram Agency. The administration in the area had already been intimated to take precautionary measures, he added.

“Intelligence reports suggest that militants from across the border may attack villages near in Kurram. On the basis of these reports, the local administration was intimated to ask villagers to be vigilant particularly at night. There are many groups on the Afghan territory, but I can’t confirm whether it is Daesh or any other outfit,” he said.

According to reports, Zazi tribe after receiving complaints from their cousins expelled militants from Estia area of Paktia province. An elder of Turi tribe said that militants had shifted their sanctuaries to Shpola area in Dany Pattan.

“Shpola also belongs to Zazi and our apprehensions have not been addressed,” said the elder.

Turi claimed that they had several agreements with Zazi tribe under which both the tribes were bound to abide those agreements to safeguard each other’s interest.

“Under these agreements, Turi and Zazi are bound that they will not harm each other’s interests and will not allow outsiders to use their territories for subversive activities,” said the elder.

After receiving threat alert from the local administration, people in Bughday, Borki, AKherlachi, Kunj Alizai, Malikhel in upper tehsil and Anzeri and Bilyameen in lower tehsil of Kurram Agency have started keeping vigil during night. Villagers have formed committees in these areas and armed volunteers take positions on the hilltops and other key locations along the border.

Meanwhile, the elders have suggested to the administration to stop supply of goods to the border areas in Afghanistan via Kurram Agency to build pressure on the local tribes to take action against militant groups hiding in their area.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2016


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