PESHAWAR, Jan 30: A jirga of the Mehsud tribe met JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Wednesday as part of efforts to contact politicians of the NWFP for ending the military operation in South Waziristan.

“We are trying to contact all those who can help stop this genocide of the Mahsud people,” former Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (F) legislator Maulana Mairajuddin told Dawn after meeting Maulana Fazl in Dera Ismail Khan.

Maulana Mairaj, who was one of the leading figures who had brokered a peace agreement between the government and militant commander Baitullah Mehsud, said they planned to mobilise public opinion in favour of ending the military operation.

He claimed that the military operation was part of a conspiracy to alter the map (of Pakistan) through use of military force.

“Those who do not want to fight and are loyal to the integrity and solidarity of Pakistan and respect the rule of law should be spared and those who are against it should be taken to task. Why punish innocent people?” he asked.

He claimed that security forces were indiscriminately attacking civilians and peaceful people, demolishing their houses and forcing them to leave their areas.

He said thousands of people had been displaced and there was no arrangement to look after them or rehabilitate them. He said the people leaving the troubled region were being forced by security forces to use difficult routs, mostly through hilly areas.

He said the situation had created hardships for people, particularly women and children, adding that several children had died due to biting cold and of pneumonia.

The former lawmaker observed that “wiping out the Mehsuds” would not solve the problem because people from other areas of the country, including Punjab, were also involved in militancy. He called for a positive deliberation on the issue.

He said the government had snapped all contacts with the Mehsud tribal jirga and there was no word on what its plans were. “We hold jirgas but we don’t know what the government wants from us.”

He said Maulana Fazl had assured them that his party believed in peaceful resolution of the conflict and was opposed to use of force against own people.