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TANK, May 19: A Mehsud tribal jirga which will meet NWFP Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani on Tuesday is expected to demand reopening of closed roads to help the internally-displaced people to return to their homes as an important step for taking forward the peace process in South Waziristan.

Tribal and official sources said the jirga would also demand release of tribesmen held under the collective responsibility clause of the Frontier Crimes Regulation.

The jirga, representing three tribes, is meeting the governor to push for the acceptance of their two main demands, although officials in Peshawar maintain that it has nothing to do with the peace agreement expected to be signed soon.

The Mehsud jirga includes its three main tribes, Bhalolzai, Mianzai and Shamankhels.

“The meeting has been arranged at their request and the government is likely to respond positively to their demands,” a senior official told Dawn.

A representative of the federal government is also arriving in Peshawar to attend the meeting. He said the Mehsud tribes wanted the government to reopen the closed Kotkai road.

“They said that after relocation of troops, there is no need to keep the road closed,” the official said. “The tribesmen say that now that the government has resumed the peace process and released several people, it is about time that those who have been held without charge under collective responsibility may also be released to improve the atmosphere,” the official said.

The government’s willingness to meet the important Mehsud tribesmen appears to be part of a move to win them over and persuade them to sign the proposed peace agreement and stand in as guarantors to ensure its implementation.

One tribal elder pointed out that all-powerful ‘Dre Mehsud’ stood a better chance of ensuring the implementation of the peace agreement than the so-called 21-member committee which had failed in its efforts to restore peace.

“The 21-member jirga was nowhere to be seen just when they were required to play their role. These people have no authority and no influence,” the tribal elder said.


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