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Deweaponisation drive stirs worries among Kurram people

Updated Jan 02, 2017 10:34am

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PESHAWAR: The government has launched a deweaopnisation campaign in Kurram Agency, asking the local tribal people to hand over weapons to the administration.

However, elders in Parachinar say that recent history of violence against the tribes and fragile security situation in Afghanistan make this move inopportune at this moment.

“The so-called Islamic State has headquarters in our backyard (Nangarhar). Disarming Turi and Bangash tribes in upper and lower parts of Kurram is very inappropriate. Any action against tribes at this moment will create problems,” MNA Sajid Hussain Turi told Dawn.

He said that their people didn’t feel safe from the Afghanistan side as border posts were being attacked from Afghan territory.

Local Brigade Commander Brigadier Malak Amir Mohammad Khan asked tribal elders at a jirga in Parachinar on Tuesday last to voluntarily surrender their “heavy weapons” to the political administration within 45 days otherwise strict action against violators of order would be taken.

“All the tribal areas had been cleansed of terrorists and compliance of law is the collective responsibility of every citizen,” the official Associated Press of Pakistan had quoted the army officer as saying.


Elders say history of violence against tribes and situation in Afghanistan make the move inappropriate


According to the deadline, people could retain AK-47 assault rifles and other traditional weapons for personal safety. Officials said that each tribe in the agency piled and stored weapons to be used in collective action by the tribe against any aggressor.

“These weapons have become liabilities for the tribes now,” they added. The deadline stirred worries among the people, who have yet to come out of trauma of violence that led to three-year long blockade of the main route to Kurram.

Clashes in Kurram from November 2007 to 2010 had left over 3,000 people dead while thousands of families were forced to flee their homes. Majority of the displaced families have yet to return to their native lands.

Unlike other tribal agencies of Fata, Kurram has different dynamics because of sectarian divides and its geo-strategic location. Kurram is surrounded by Afghanistan from three sides and remained in turmoil since 1980 when Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

Although security situation in the area has witnessed remarkable improvement particularly after military operations in North Waziristan, Orakzai and Kurram’s adjacent areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but IS and outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s elements on Afghan territory are considered threat for Kurram Agency.

Former corps commander of Peshawar Lt-Gen Hidayatur Rehman during a press briefing last year had cautioned that “threat warnings in Kurram have been received from across the border.”

Sensing threat from the Afghanistan, local authorities had asked villagers residing along the border to set up posts on the hilltops and keep vigil during night to prevent any attack from Paktia and Khost provinces.

An elder from Upper Kurram said that inconsistency in the statements of decision makers confused people and they did not rely on their assurances. “One day they (officials) ask people to occupy peaks and start night patrolling to stop incursion of militants from the Afghan side and the other day they turn somersault giving deadline to the tribes to surrender weapons. We fail to understand their wisdom,” he said.

Haji Faqir Hussain, head of Anjuman Hussaineia, main decision making body of various tribes in Kurram, said that indifferent policies of successive governments during the past few decades had forced local population to ensure their own safety against the hostile elements in and outside the valley.

“The administration can’t guarantee our safety, keeping in view the harsh realities of recent past. Disarming people at this moment is tantamount to tying their hands and feet,” he said.

Mr Hussain said that state apparatus knew that Turi and Bangash tribes had never fought against the state and supported every action of the government against anti-state elements and criminals.

Political Agent Ikramullah Khan said that local tribes were asked about one year ago to hand over their heavy weapons and ammunitions to the administration.

He said that deweaponisation was part of the plan to purge society from illegal weapons. He added that local administration would hold talks at the clan and village level to ask people to surrender their weapons.

“In the specific context of Kurram the administration has offered tribes to handover heavy weapons, to be documented and will be a trust with the local authorities,” he said, “there is no such example in other tribal agencies, where the people are not allowed even to keep sling shot.”

“The administration is giving the tribe a very respected and legitimate way to pull them out of this dilemma,” said Mr Khan, adding that those people were sleeping over piles of explosives.

A security official said that deweaponisation campaign in Kurram was not against any specific tribe or sect. He said that all tribes and sects would be disarmed in the light of National Action Plan.

“Yes, there was threat from the Afghanistan side few months ago, but now there is a security post after every one kilometre along the border. There is no justification to dump anti-tank mines, anti-aircraft guns and other lethal weapons on the pretext of threat from the Afghan side,” he said.

MNA Sajid Turi denied that people had anti-tank mines or anti-aircraft guns. “If administration has any such proof, the tribes are ready for cooperation, but collecting common rifles from the people would be inappropriate,” he said.

Dr Khadim Hussain, political analyst in Peshawar, told Dawn that government should hold dialogue with the elders through civilian administration and public representatives instead of involving military commanders in the issue.

“Instead of involving brute face of the state, the government should contact local people through civil administration or parliamentarian to hold dialogue with the tribes to solve the issue,” he suggested. He said that the administration should refrain from setting deadlines and should restore people’s trust and convince them to voluntarily hand over weapons to it.

Published in Dawn January 2nd, 2017

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Comments (12) Closed



Sabir Jan 02, 2017 03:10pm

Its a good move by government to deweaponize the general public. In most cases these weapon are use to display aggression among them self. On these vary weapon they kill each others. Instead on guns they may carry pens and pads or cellular phone. Some how the British put gene in our blood to have weapon.we need to break this stone ages culture.

Adil Jan 02, 2017 04:46pm

When I started reading this article, I thought finally no-one will have guns but after reading a couple of lines I realized it wasn't deweaponization(because everyone has AK-47). I think we should completely deweaponize our beloved country. If we can't do that then we should at least teach gun safety and self-defense techniques before issuing a license.

Arif Jan 02, 2017 05:55pm

It is totally senseless to do that.. As where tgese so called authorities were when these locals were attacked from both Afghanistan and taliban within the country.. No one rise to help them when the same were being blockaded for more then a month and now these authorities want them to surrender the same weapons due to which they are still living..

Muhammad Jan 02, 2017 06:19pm

Deweaponisation drive will only succeed when the society will feel security and will have confidence in the law enforcement agencies if they feel that their lives and properties are at risk they will never relinquish their weapons

Afridi Jan 02, 2017 07:59pm

@Sabir Can you give some statistics how many have been killed by terrorists and how many being killed by blood feuds in FATA?

Afridi Jan 02, 2017 08:06pm

@Arif Well said. The people of Kuram used to come to peshawar through Afghanistan where were authorities to protect these people at that time.

Afridi Jan 02, 2017 08:12pm

FATA first should be cleared of all terrorists and full proof security provided to all residents without discrimination.

Muhammad Esmaiel Jan 02, 2017 08:55pm

At the same time Govt asked these Pure Pakistaniz to build post and to secure mother land from Alien attacks on the other hand they are asking them to lay arms. In a country where the people living in cities are not feeling safe. In a country where law enforcers were found involved in looting public property. Its not safe to lay arms especially in an area which is surrounded from three sides in to Afghanistan, where existence of Taliban Isis and LJ is constantly a threat for them.

MUJAHID a KHan Jan 02, 2017 08:59pm

The people of Kurram are peace lovers and pro Pakistani. They are surrounded by Afghanistan and many times fought and give their men for the sake of Pakistan. Why should we ask them to lay arms. They are the front wall against enemy. Its not safe for them and for us to deweaponize them especially when the border is so hostile these days.

Muhammad Ali memon Jan 02, 2017 09:12pm

@Muhammad Sure they dont have to as they were fighting Afghan Taliban many times and by than Pakistani Authorities not only kept silent but didnot helped them. Apart from this they never stood against Pakistani constitution and many times fought for Pakistan paid heavy prices for being Pakistani, So why they lay their arms. They are not Taliban Not Haqqanis, not TTP or LJ they are Pakistanis so we need to differenciate who is our friend and who is enemy.

Mehdi Jan 03, 2017 03:40pm

And the Govt/Army dont need to deweaponize the Tribes, they will deweaponize themselves if they feel they are secure. Its very easy just bring FATA in mainstream most of the issues will be solved automatically. and the 2nd easiest method if govt apply, all tribes will deweaponize themselves. just bring Turi Militia Back to kurram just like before 1984 it was. and i am sure All the tribes will feel themselves safe and will handover all the weapons to govt.

Mehdi Jan 03, 2017 04:07pm

I am eyewitness of 1996 and 2007 wars. their was huge shelling from Afghanistan side. they were using rockets, antiaircraft guns, mortar shells and even Tanks were using on border areas. and their was no Army or Govt Personnel to protect The Turi and Bangash. the defend themselves, so that why they need weapons. Can anybody proves a single bullets fired on Army, Police or other law and order enforcement agencies in Turi and Bangash Tribes Area. or anyone challenged the Govt Writ??