Tribesmen’s call to arms

Published April 4, 2007

WANA, April 3: Enthusiastic tribesmen on Tuesday beat ‘war-drums’ to formally ask people to rally to the cause of fighting the Uzbeks out of the restive South Waziristan Agency.

Hundreds of armed tribesmen rallied to the drum-beating called Chagha in local language to flush out the Uzbeks from the tribal region bordering Afghanistan, witnesses and government officials said.

“The drums were beaten after nearly five years. It was really invigorating. And it is significant because of the fact that the tribesmen have done so in the presence of the local Taliban who had prohibited it in the first place,” a source at the Waziristan’s regional headquarters in Wana told Dawn on satellite phone.

The drums were beaten following a jirga of Zallikhel sub-clan of the predominant Ahmadzai Wazir in the Wana region. Yargulkhel sub-clan, which was earlier reluctant to join the anti-Uzbek campaign because of their own commanders siding with the Uzbeks, also sent their representatives in the rally.

Another sub-clan, Taojikhel, also provided 40 volunteers to the tribal lashkar and promised more if needed, the source said.

The jirga followed after weeks of fighting between the Uzbeks and local tribesmen that left over 100 dead and scores injured.

“The winds have changed their course,” the source said. “The game is up for the Uzbeks.”

He said that anti-Uzbek militant commander Maulavi Nazir and tribesmen seized vehicles in Wana to send armed men to fight the Uzbeks off, who were believed to be hiding in certain areas.

The source said that six Uzbeks were killed and two others were captured near the Karikot area of Wana at around 11am on Tuesday.

The number of Uzbek militants in the tribal region varies but security officials said that their number could be little over 1,000 in South Waziristan alone.

Religious leaders declared a jihad against the Uzbek militants on Monday.

Meanwhile, the jirga authorised the tribal lashkar to capture dead or alive the Uzbek militants operating under the command of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader, Tahir Yuldeshiv.

Sources said that volunteers of the lashkar would be dispatched to Zera Lota, Azam Warsak, Shin Warsak, Ghwakhwa, Jaghundai and other areas and would coordinate with the supporters of Maulvi Nazir.

Maulvi Nazir’s group, which launched a campaign against the Uzbek militants in the agency, has distributed pamphlets in Wana, Azam Warsak and Shin Warsak areas, declaring Tahir Yuldeshiv an agent of America, Russia and Israel.

“Tahir is the agent of the CIA, KGB and MOSAD. His men have killed around 200 innocent in South Waziristan,” said a pamphlet.

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