KURRAM: The belligerent tribes engaged in a land dispute in the sectarian-sensitive Kurram tribal district found some common ground on Wednesday, agreeing to a year-long cessation of hostilities and allowing the government-appointed land commission to resolve the long-simmering issue, a provincial government official told Dawn on Wednesday.

The official of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Home and Tribal Affairs Department also confirmed that the two sides had vacated their positions on high grounds on “98 per cent” of the flash-point areas and work was underway to vacate the remaining parts in the peripheral areas by tomorrow morning.

“The military has now moved in and occupied vacated positions,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

“We hope that the remaining two per cent of land in the peripheral areas will be cleared by Thursday morning. It was getting dark, and so it was decided to complete the process in the morning,” the official said.

The clashes erupted last week between inhabitants of Dandar Sehra and Boshehra and then spread to other areas, including Khar Kallay, Baleshkhel, Pewar, Gidu, Teri Mengal, Karman Para Chamkani, Maqbal and Kunj Alizai.

With two more deaths and 15 injuries in an overnight heavy exchange of gunfire between the two sides, the clashes have left 13 people killed and 92 wounded, according to Dr Qaisar Abbas Bangash, the deputy medical superintendent of the district headquarters hospital in Parachinar.

The home department official said the land commission officials had been in the areas on Tuesday and would start work after being given the go-ahead.

The agreement to cease hostilities was reached between a tribal jirga led by the commissioner of the Kohat division.

No skirmishes were reported on Wednesday, the official said, denying reports of people leaving the area. “Entry to the affected areas had been closed, but no one from the area has left,” the official insisted.

Residents said roads remained closed to traffic, whereas educational institutions and bazaars were also closed. People in affected areas were faced with an acute shortage of fuel and food items.

Internet services had also been suspended in the affected areas to maintain peace, a district administration official said.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2023

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