KHYBER: The participants of a peace jirga rejected formation of peace bodies or raising any armed Lashkar to tackle the existing law and order situation in Khyber.

Organised under the banner of Bara Siyasi Ittehad on Wednesday, the jirga also opposed any military operation in Tirah where some militant groups had recently resurfaced. The participants of the jirga said that majority of the locals were not willing to vacate their houses.

Local elders, representatives of political parties and activists of civil society organisations attended the jirga. Taking serious notice of the insecurity in the region, they said that they would not allow anybody to disturb the peace of Bara and Tirah in particular and the entire Khyber in general.

They blamed the law enforcement agencies for their failure to check the movement of suspected militants. They also questioned what they called the criminal silence of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government about the presence of armed groups in different parts of the province.

Questions govt’s ‘criminal silence’ on presence of armed groups in province

They resolved that a series of dialogue would be initiated with the authorities to apprise them of their concern over the growing insecurity for finding a peaceful solution to the current situation.

IDPs: The fate of the recently displaced families from some pockets of Tirah valley still hangs in the balance as the situation is far from stable in the troubled areas due to presence of undesirable elements, according to local sources.

However, the law enforcement agencies were yet to initiate any operation in the area as was told to the displaced families, they said.

The exact number of the families recently evicted from Baghrai, Jarrhobi, Dray Nagharee and Dwa Khulay is not known as no official record of the same was kept during their displacement, which started about three weeks ago.

However, local sources told Dawn that about 100 families mostly from Sipah and Kamarkhel while some others from Akkakhel and Zakhakhel tribes had taken temporary abode in Dars Jumaat locality. They said that a small number of displaced families had gone to bordering localities of Orakzai.

Hunar Bagh, a Sipah resident of Dray Nagharee, told Dawn that he along with his family walked for almost five hours to reach Bara and take shelter in a deserted warehouse.

He said that he himself bore all the expenses of his arduous journey up to Bara with no official assistance. “Why were we forced to vacate our houses again when we were allowed to go back only two months ago after an official assurance that the region was safe for living” he questioned.

Sipah tribe was the last of the seven Bara tribes, who were allowed to return to their homes, mostly damaged, after decade-long displacement.

Hunar Bagh said that the returned families had only started rebuilding their destroyed houses in anticipation of a harsh winter when they were again ordered to leave as some armed militants had sneaked into their areas even before the start of their return.

Some Kamarkhel displaced families currently lodged at Dar Jumaat area of Akkakhel refused to go back after they were given a green signal about their return only after three weeks of their second phase of displacement.

The Kamarkhel families told the security officials that they would go back to their homes only if they were given full assurance about their security and also they were accepted as registered internally displaced persons while providing them with a suitable relief package, which the government had announced for the displaced families of other militancy-hit areas of the province.

The authorities concerned had earlier contended that some ‘undesirable’ elements had entered the area in the garb of IDPs and a fresh exercise of their registration would be conducted after their return to their homes.

Many of the Kamarkhel and Sipah families believe that the situation is not yet conducive for their return as they still fear presence of armed people in their areas, though small in number.

They said that they were asked to vacate homes so that a limited scale military operation could be initiated against those elements but no such exercise was conducted so far.

Deputy Commissioner Shah Fahad, when contacted, said that the situation was unnecessarily blown out of context.

“We are keeping a close watch on the situation in the region and as per policy necessary steps are taken to handle the situation,” he said. He added that soon the situation would be brought under control.

He said that hype was created about the situation in the area as it was not as troubling as it was portrayed by some elements.

About the displacement of families, Mr Fahad said that it was not ‘so massive’ but was a ‘localised’ issue, which would be taken care of in due course of time.

He said that administration was in contact with the relevant people and extended all the possible assistance to the families whom he hoped would soon be sent back to their homes.

Published in Dawn, September 22nd, 2022

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